IE webinars

Our webinar programme offers regular sessions, which are led by IE trainers or other experts, and discuss different aspects of heritage interpretation. For a free taster session by Thorsten Ludwig, presenting the EU awarded paper ‘Engaging citizens with Europe’s cultural heritage’, see here.

For IE members, participation in IE webinars is free. Some webinars are for professional members only.

For non-IE members, the participation fees are the same as for IE individual membership. Prices depend on the average income in single countries (see here). Payment is only possible via PayPal.

IE members can receive recordings of previous webinars on request. Just select one you are interested in by scrolling down this page.

If you have questions or suggestions regarding IE webinars, please contact office@interpret-europe.net.

28 May 2020,18:00 CET
Participatory tourism and opportunities for interpretation: a case study

Participatory tourism is an emerging alternative tourism product that provides unique encounters for tourists to discover, learn and collectively contribute to the local communities they visit. Embodying the concept of heritage communities explored in the recent IE web conference, it is also closely aligned to interpretive principles of first-hand experiences, exchange and accessing deeper meanings. This webinar was focused on a recent experimental EU-funded project to develop a range of participatory tourism products in 8 off-the-beaten-track European destinations. The resulting holiday packages provide an example of the continuing shift from mass-tourism to sustainable leisure on a human scale that satisfies the growing thirst for meaningful experiences.

Sandy Colvine is an IE certified trainer and IE Supervisory Committee member. He specialises in the use of interpretation as a tool for rural economic development and tourism and lives near Montelimar, France.

30 April 2020,18:00 CEST
Co-creating an interpretive trail

In this session, Thorsten Ludwig introduced an interpretive planning project from the Lower Rhine valley. A small part of an old meander loop of the river was due to be restored with a nature trail to help visitors learn about the changes. Visitor research showed that the trail was mostly used by local people. Accordingly, the trail was designed together with a group of residents – and the original ideas altered significantly. The webinar explained the steps that were taken to make this collaboration come true, the challenges and opportunities that came with the involvement, and some of the new ideas and installations that resulted from this cooperation.

Thorsten Ludwig is an interpretive trainer, planner and consultant based in Germany. He founded Bildungswerk interpretation as his own business in 1993 and was involved in a larger number of local projects until 2015, when he became Managing Director of Interpret Europe.

21 March 2020, 09:00 CET
Live interpretation for creating cultural experiences

In this session, Manuela Hrvatin talked about the approach to storytelling that was used in creating the Istria Inspirit experiences: Legend of Thorndancers and Casanova tour. The design and implementation of the Istria Inspirit project, as well as the methods and means of engaging local communities were presented.The author also discussed concepts like ‘participatory storytelling’, ‘interpretive storytelling’ and ‘5D storytelling’, as they are introduced in the storytelling manual. This resulted from cooperation between the Ministry of Tourism of Croatia and the Istrian Tourism Development Agency.

Manuela Hrvatin has rich experiences in tourism development and has founded live interpretation guided tours and events under the brand Istria Inspirit. She is also the IE Country Coordinator Croatia and an IE Certified Interpretive Guide.

27 February 2020, 09:00 CET
Introducing interpretation in Polish national parks

Although the idea of heritage interpretation (HI) is deeply rooted in the national parks of the USA, it was not so long ago when I have heard the word ‘interpretation’ for the first time. For a few years now, HI has become recognized and implemented in some Polish national parks as another method of working especially with adults. However, the role of this approach is much more important than simple guiding methods as it is also a real tool for conservation. What were the opportunities we took and what kind of obstacles did we face during the development of this approach? What are the future challenges? We took a closer look at those issues using the example of Polish national parks that are starting to work with HI, a bit like the US parks in the 1950s.

Alicja Fischer is a biologist, guide and mediator. She works in Ojców National Park as head of the education and tourism department. As an IE Certified Interpretive Guide, Writer and Trainer, her goal is to help people to connect with their heritage, both cultural and natural.

21 January 2020, 17:00-18:00 CET
Concise questions for experienced nature guides

Working with tourist and nature guides is a great experience. They are incredibly enthusiastic about the job they do, as it is usually their huge passion. People love listening to guides who are devoted to their chosen topics and are so professional in what they do. What could go wrong with that? Why does Tilden say that intuition and passion are not enough? What are the concise questions we forget to ask ourselves? 

Magdalena Kuś is a forester and educator and since childhood has been associated with nature and the Carpathian Mountains. She runs her own company ‘Z barwinkiem’, where she assists people to appreciate the world. She works in Magura National Park as head of the education department. Magdalena is IE Country Coordinator Poland. She is also a certified interpretive trainer (CIT) and a mountain guide. She has a strong belief that the guide's role is much more than simply transferring knowledge. She remains constantly delighted with the wilderness.

17 December 2019, 19:00-20:00 CET
Culture, cities and citizens: Stories of transformation through community engagement

We focused on two questions:

How does a museum become a vital space for the development of, and collaboration among, local communities? Since its first years of operation, the Ethnological Museum of Thrace has given space to many of the city's collectives who either had no financial means in times of crisis or wanted to communicate their messages to a larger audience.

How can art become a central tool for changing a city. Entitled 'Transition to EUphoria', the Eleusis 2021 European Capital of Culture program focuses on connecting art and everyday life. The vision for the artistic program is inspired by the challenge of sustainability, and nourished by our belief that art and culture are the ‘keys’ to building a sustainable future. Inspired by the EU and transition, it attempts to answer the question: What would a city be like if art and culture were at the heart of both its social and economic development?

Yannis Koukmas is a social anthropologist with a postgraduate degree in European History and Cultural Management. He has been the Director of Audience Development and Participation in Eleusis 2021 European Capital of Culture since March 2018. He worked as museum coordinator in the Ethnological Museum of Thrace since its opening in 1998. His professional interests include strategic planning, audience development and engagement.

21 November 2019, 14:00-15:00 CET
Benefits of integrating heritage interpretation with tourism

A growing number of large protected areas such as national parks and biosphere reserves are supporting sustainable tourism development in their areas. However, very often the main focus in doing so is on hard facts such as reducing waste or minimizing resource consumption. Transmitting the idea of living a sustainable lifestyle to visitors seems to be far more complicated. Heritage interpretation can play a key role in doing so! It has all the qualities it needs to address the visitors intellectually and emotionally and is, therefore, the ideal concept for promoting sustainable lifestyle.

In this webinar, we took a look at the experience Sebastian had with his company Spreescouts in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Spreewald. There, he organizes guided tours and incentive events for business customers. He invited us to discuss the potential that heritage interpretation has for promoting and supporting sustainable tourism development, especially in protected areas.

Sebastian Zoepp grew up in the countryside of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Spreewald. Even during his teenage years, he started working as a tour guide taking people around the scenic Spreewald landscape. While studying environmental planning, he became an interpretive guide and used his knowledge in heritage interpretation to integrate this concept in his diploma thesis. After his studies, he sat up SPREESCOUTS as a sustainable tour operating company offering guided tours and excursions in the Spreewald region. In 2016, he set up a new business – the ‘Spreeakademie’ – focusing on education for sustainable regional development. Since then, he has run both companies using his experience from his own tourism business in the development of educational programmes on sustainable tourism.

22 October 2019, 20:00-21:00 CET
Antagonistic heritage

- For professional members only -

In this webinar, Nicole Deufel shared insights from her own professional experience and original research to examine the implications and impacts of thematic interpretation. Considering also contemporary sociocultural and political developments, the webinar explores an alternative approach to interpretation that is based on Chantal Mouffe's theory of agonistics as well as thinking from within the field of critical heritage studies. Participants had an opportunity to critically reflect on thematic interpretation and the proposed alternative.

Nicole Deufel studied Interpretation Management and Practice at UHI in Scotland and received a PhD in Heritage Studies from University Colloge London. She has worked in management positions in heritage, museums and cultural education in the United Kingdom and Germany since 2007. She has been writing a blog on heritage interpretation and management since 2010.

4 September 2019, 09:00-10:00 CET
Interpreting Nature: contact life beyond our eyes

This webinar will be offered in Spanish language on
30 September 2019, 19:00-20:00 CET

In this webinar, Evarist March reflected upon interpretive guiding in natural places or places related to nature in different environments. We discussed difficulties and limitations of interpretive guides as well as ideas on how to improve the quality of their services.

Evarist March has the highest rate of completed Certified Interpretive Guide courses among IE trainers, running them in Spain and in South American countries. He is director of Naturalwalks and a nature guide, biologist and specialist in ethnobotany.

See the invitation in Spanish here.

30 April 2019, 09:00-10:00 CET
Heritage interpretation and communities

- For professional members only -

In April’s webinar IE was hosting Dragana Lucija Ratković Aydemir who talked about working with the local communities when preparing heritage interpretation projects. Presentation touched the topics of sense of place and spirit of place, the interlacement of local communities in them and the importance of cultivation of the two for building communities. Practical examples were shown and the participants were encouraged to discuss and share their own experience and practices in community involvement

NB: The presentation was available only partially after the actual webinar. Sadly it was not be possible to offer a video to those who missed the opportunity. A presentation without photo material can be arranged for those who were unable to attend the webinar.

Dragana Lucija Ratković Aydemir is the Vice-President of the Croatian Association for the Heritage Interpretation Interpret Croatia, the National Coordinator of Interpret Europe in Croatia and a member of several professional organisations such as ICOM and ORACLE. For a decade she worked for the Croatian Ministry of Culture. In 2005 she founded MUZE/MUSES Ltd in Zagreb, the first niche company to manage projects in culture and tourism in Croatia and the wider region.

26 March 2019, 09:00-10:00 CET
Participatory heritage interpretation and its social impacts

The concept of participatory heritage interpretation is based on the idea, today widely accepted, that interpretation is not the exclusive role of experts but also depends on participants those who are the beneficiaries of heritage and members of local communities. They need to be actively involved in the assembly of knowledge, narratives, meanings and alternative models for the uses of heritage. It also assumes that this active inclusion of the public in the creation of values and meanings of heritage has the potential to affect, positively, the quality of people’s lives and the sustainable development of communities. It does this by contributing to lifelong learning, development of individual knowledge and skills, fostering social cohesion, developing feelings of belonging and pride and many other social impacts. 

The aim of this webinarwas to provide an overview of and opportunity for discussion about the research and theory of participatory heritage interpretation and its different models and practices, as well as its possible impacts on individuals and society.  

Lana Domšić holds a PhD in Museology from the University of Zagreb. In her dissertation, she explored the social impacts of participatory heritage interpretation on young people in the local community. She works as a lecturer on the professional study programme in Cultural Management at the University of Applied Sciences Baltazar Zaprešić, Croatia, where she teaches courses in art history, heritage management and cultural tourism.

26 February 2019, 09:00-10:00 CET
Evaluation of interpretive panels and troubles with different approaches

Across Europe, interpretive panels remain the leading heritage interpretation medium. Evaluation is crucial for assessing the successful, or otherwise, employment of this interpretation tool. In the webinar, we were
(a) discussing different approaches to evaluation of interpretive panels based on four pieces of research conducted in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in recent years
(b) suggesting changes in measuring holding power of a panel and
(c) sharing ideas on further development of evaluation methods.

Michal Medek teaches Heritage Interpretation at the Masaryk University in Brno and he is pioneering the field in the Czech Republic. He is a director of the Czech Institute for Heritage Interpretation. Michal holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Interpretation: Management and Practice from the University of the Highlands and Islands (2013) as well as an MA in environmental humanities and an MSc in geography, biology and geology.

8 Januar 2019, 09:00-10:00 CET
How to embrace cultural diversity while fostering social cohesion

“United in diversity”. That’s the official motto of the EU. Is this more than an empty slogan? For the authors of this motto, ‘diversity’ points to cultural diversity as an asset. But we must be aware that cultural diversity may be used in fundamentally different ways: to enrich people and foster social cohesion in plural societies, or to underpin exclusionary attitudes in increasingly divisive societies.

In this context, it matters a lot how we interpret heritage. For heritage interpreters, cultural diversity is relevant at various levels: 

  • the diversity of heritage phenomena that we include in our interpretation
  • the diversity of possible aspects or points of view that our interpretation embraces, i.e. how we frame the heritage, and
  • the diversity of participants with their various socio-cultural backgrounds.

It is obvious that the latter two may also be relevant to nature interpretation.

The webinar explores how we, as heritage interpreters, can embrace cultural diversity in a positive way. What can we do to help people experience how diversity can enrich them? We were discussing how we are able to contribute to foster communities that are more ’united in diversity’.

Patrick Lehnes was involved in the HIMIS – the project about heritage interpretation for migrant inclusion in schools. This tested approaches for how heritage interpretation can foster social cohesion in practice. He also represented Interpret Europe at the ‘Voices of Culture’ Structured Dialogue with the European Commission on Social Inclusion. Participants in the webinar may want to read the VoC Brainstorming report as a background paper.

25 September 2018, 09:00-10:00 CET
Heritage interpretation for youths

Janja Sivec is an IE trainer and heritage interpretation consultant who works on a lot of different projects. One of them is preparing programmes for children and youths on different heritage sites. In the webinar, Heritage interpretation for youths, she focused on the methodology of youth work, its principles and how close or far they are to heritage interpretation. She presented different examples of her work and how she combines youth work and heritage interpretation. 

Janja Sivec runs NGO Legends, working as a trainer, guide and consultant. She is also an IE certified trainer, IE´s Country Coordinator for Slovenia and volunteers in the Social Media Team.

26 June 2018, 09:00-10:00 CET
Participatory techniques with a purpose

- For professional members only -

Participatory methods are a valuable tool to establish connections between people and heritage. Some tools enable one-way exchange, whereas other tools can be designed for communication in all directions: between institution and visitors, between visitors themselves, among residents living around heritage sites or stakeholders in heritage communities. The liveliest exchange can be achieved with the help of live interpreters, guides or other staff. Can such engagement contribute to social change? Are there any established ways of how we could empower people for active citizenship, critical thinking and meaningful reflection upon life and the world by encouraging them to communicate about thoughts, opinions and experiences?

Valya Stergioti and Helena Vičič introduced some findings from the book, The Participatory Museum, by Nina Simon and lead a discussion about interpretive techniques for facilitation of such connections and their application in practice. As a warm-up for the webinar, attendees were invited to read the book review article, Can social exchange trigger social change?.

26 April 2018, 09:00-10:00 CET
The 'Engaging citizens' paper

IE was recently awarded the European Commission’s Altiero Spinelli Prize for the paper, Engaging citizens with Europe’s cultural heritage. The Prize is granted for outstanding contributions to broaden the ownership of the European project.

The paper relates to recent findings about the wider European public, about values and about mental frames. Based on this review, it offers recommendations on how to use heritage interpretation to reflect upon Europe’s shared values.

Thorsten Ludwig introduced the key thoughts of the paper and triggered thinking about the future development of the interpretive profession against this background.

"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones."
John Cage