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The University of Crafts and Trades promoting know-how and cultural identity
International interest

The University of Crafts and Trades is supported by the United Nations and UNESCO. The UNESCO World Heritage Office is especially interested and is keen to develop it as a new means of cooperation and solidarity among nations possessing heritage of universal value (today there are around 800 sites in most countries of the world). Higher education institutions in Latin America, the Caribbean and other continents have shown interest in the proposal and hope to incorporate it into their working plans, with the support of cultural, economic, environmental and international cooperation institutions. This interest is a sign that there is an urgent need for a new approach to the management of knowledge and a reappraisal of higher education and training. This need has been on the agenda since the late 1990s when the UNESCO organised the first intergovernmental meetings on higher education, science and technology and cultural policies. It was further discussed in the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Significant progress has been made and there have been various initiatives in the Andean region, with similar experiences in other regions. The wealth and value of the human knowledge rooted in cultures and ways of life provide the potential to continue working in the direction indicated by the University of Crafts and Trades. However, in many countries existing legislation and traditional education and training methods do not encourage experimentation. The international community has invited all nations to focus on education and the society of knowledge and information as the most important instrument for change.

In every country there is an increasing number of publications and databases on the know-how, techniques and knowledge present in communities, which is of great importance for the implementation of the University of Crafts and Trades. Moreover, the increasing interest of the academic world, science and technology, industry and social actors in these skills, know-how and knowledge is an unmistakable sign of the space that is now available for new nationally and internationally significant visions and experiences.

The University of Crafts and Trades Project will greatly benefit from the contributions of different countries interested in implementing it. The University of Crafts and Trades can be implemented in many different ways and various fields of activity may be pursued. By consolidating this great diversity of options and accumulated intellectual and cultural wealth, the University of Crafts and Trades can become a universal value in the short term. At the same time, this process which is based on a country’s material and immaterial, and natural heritage can mobilise new alliances involving international and decentralised cooperation, the major actors in setting up this university in different countries.