What We Do

The AHRC Heritage Priority Area team – led by Heritage Leadership Fellow Professor Rodney Harrison, and based at the UCL Institute of Archaeology – worked with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC),  the heritage research community, and heritage partner organisations, from 2017 to 2020 to draw together and stimulate the development of a wide range of research across the arts and humanities which contributed towards understanding heritage. During the project, the team aimed to support the interconnections between research, policy and practice, both in the UK and internationally.

We also took on an expansive view of heritage, documented in this website, and worked towards encouraging and stimulating work that highlighted intersections between natural and cultural heritage, and key global challenges.

​This website archives a programme of events and activities, complimented by videos and other sources, as well as research and leadership activities engaging with our own specific set of research themes.

Further information about the AHRC’s investments in heritage research, and its Heritage Priority Area Future Research Strategy, is available on the AHRC’s website.

AHRC Heritage Priority Area

In the Human World, the AHRC Strategy (2013-2018), the AHRC committed to further ‘increase its work with organisations such as the UK-wide arts funding bodies, broadcasters and the museums, galleries and libraries sector to promote public understanding and appreciation of the arts, culture and heritage’ (p 24). The AHRC’s Heritage Strategic Area: Future Strategy builds on earlier investments in heritage through establishing Heritage as a Priority Area (alongside Design and Modern Languages) and through its appointment of a Leadership Fellow for Heritage Research.

Our vision of heritage is not so much about the past, but rather one which considers heritage to be about assembling and building futures out of those pasts in the present. We aim to bring different disciplines together to consider how heritage might contribute to key global challenges and use our three years of funding to explore how to better connect academics, practitioners and publics in new, exciting and innovative ways.

The Team


Rodney Harrison

Professor of Heritage Studies at the UCL Institute of Archaeology


Rodney Harrison is Professor of Heritage Studies at the UCL Institute of Archaeology and AHRC Heritage Priority Area Leadership Fellow. He is Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded Heritage Futures Research Programme; Director of the Heritage Futures Laboratory at UCL; and leads the Work Package on “Theorizing heritage futures in Europe: heritage scenarios” as part of the EC funded Marie Sklodowska-Curie action [MSCA] Doctoral Training Network CHEurope: Critical Heritage Studies and the Future of Europe. He is the founding editor and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, and was a founding executive committee member of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies. He is the (co)author or (co)editor of more than a dozen books and guest edited journal volumes and over 70 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters. In addition to the AHRC his research has been funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund, British Academy, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Australian Research Council, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the European Commission.


Hana Morel

Post-Doctoral Research Associate


Hana Morel is a Post-doctoral Research Associate for the AHRC Heritage Priority Area, and is currently leading on the Follow on Funding, Opening New Pathways to Impact across Heritage Research, Policy and Practice. She was awarded her PhD from University College London in 2015, in which she explored the development of planning policy and archaeology in global cities and the impact this has on those involved with archaeology and heritage. Her previous roles include: working with policy in higher education as Global BU Researcher (Executive Office) for Bournemouth University’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Global Engagement); archaeologist, researcher and lead for community engagement at Izmit’s Nicomedia Project, Turkey; project manager of the NYC Heritage project at Landmark Preservation Commission, New York; researcher at the American Institute of Archaeology;  co-director at independent publisher Morel Books; and editor-in-chief of the journal Papers from the Institute of Archaeology.

Her research involves exploring the role of heritage critically in international development and its contribution towards addressing global challenges. She is also sits on various heritage and archaeology groups such as APPAG, TAF, RESCUE and RHAG.


Colin Sterling

Affiliated Researcher


Colin Sterling is an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellow at UCL Institute of Archaeology. His current research – funded as part of an RCUK/UKRI Innovation Fellowship – explores the potential for new approaches to immersive and experiential design to contribute to critical heritage thinking and practice. From 2017 to 2019 he was a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the AHRC Heritage Priority Area project, leading on the ‘Nature, Culture and the Posthumanities’ theme. Prior to joining the team he was a Project Curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects and a Research Associate with the heritage consultancy Barker Langham. He is the author of Heritage, Photography, and the Affective Past (published by Routledge) and co-editor with Rodney Harrison of Deterritorializing the Future: Heritage in, of and after the Anthropocene (to be published by Open Humanities Press in 2020). He oversees the research network Archaeology/Heritage/Art and co-coordinates the MA module Cultural Memory. His research has been published in Future Anterior, Public Archaeology, the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology and the International Journal of Heritage Studies.


Hannah Williams

Executive Assistant


Hannah Williams is part-time Executive Assistant to the AHRC Heritage Priority Area Leadership Fellow. She completed her PhD in medieval history at the University of Manchester, and has worked as Editorial Assistant to the Ecclesiastical History Society and as co-editor on research and publication projects in history based at the University of Oxford. Her recent roles include administration and events organization for the AHRC Heritage Futures Research Programme and for the UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies.

Susan Sandford Smith

Susan Sandford Smith

Executive Assistant


Susan Sandford Smith is part-time Executive Assistant to the AHRC Heritage Priority Area Leadership Fellow, with main responsibility for organising the logistics of the ACHS Futures Conference taking place in London in August 2020. Her recent roles include being Personal Assistant to the Deputy Director of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, and co-chair of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology Athena SWAN self-assessment team. She is interested in food anthropology and hosts regular supper clubs in London, and was previously an Artist Manager and Promoter in the music industry.