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UC cultural heritage students and staff to contribute to COP26 edit-a-thon

Elly Mackay

10 November 2020: Over 250 students, researchers, and scholars – including eight representatives from the University of Canberra – will participate in a 24-hour Wikipedia edit-a-thon this week as part of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference.

The event, coordinated by the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, aims to contribute to the global agenda on climate change through a cultural heritage and conservation lens.

Participants will be assigned ‘sprint slots’ during which time they will update relevant Wikipedia pages, as well as network with other participants from around the globe.

The University of Canberra participants include two PhD students and four Bachelor of Arts (Cultural and Heritage) students, supervised by staff; Assistant Professor Alison Wain, Professor Tracy Ireland, Research Assistant Hakim Abdul Rahim, and Sessional Academic Ian Batterham.

“The outcome of being involved in this event for UC is that our students will be engaged in a worldwide event with one of the top international bodies in the heritage conservation world,” Dr Wain said.

“As one of the first organisations to contribute in this ‘relay of knowledge’ we have the opportunity to set the scene for the content that will be uploaded to Wikipedia by the rest of the world. It’s very exciting.”

Dr Wain said the event would also encourage participants to think outside the typical discipline of materials conservation and apply their skills more broadly.

“The materials conservation discipline has traditionally focused on the care of objects in museums and historic buildings, but this event is driving us to think about how our skills can be applied more broadly to preserving our planet,” Dr Wain said.

“It’s our students who will be the emerging professionals in this industry, and who will lead us in this new direction – so this is getting them started on that journey.”

Students participating in the edit-a-thon have attended training sessions to prepare them for the event, equipping them with online wiki editing skills.

As part of the 24-hour event, the University of Canberra team involved hope they can spread the word about the role cultural heritage and conservation can play in climate change and action.