Scientific Symposium

The GA2020 Scientific Symposium will be held from 5 to 9 October 2020 at the ICC, Sydney and associated venues. The Scientific Symposium offers a major research, information sharing, training and capacity-building opportunity for delegates, who will be able to present and attend papers, seminars, workshops, site visits and other sessions. Importantly, the Scientific Symposium will provide a significant platform for peer to peer exchanges, instigation of mentoring relationships and showcasing best practice methods. The opportunities for inquiry and learning will be available and accessible from the most senior levels, through participation by outstanding keynote speakers, to entry-level practitioners, who are engaging with international colleagues for the first time.

Key Dates

2 October 2019 Online call for submission of proposals
18 December 2019 Submission deadline for proposals
29 April 2020 Authors of successful proposals advised
May 2020 Preliminary program published
July 2020 Author registration deadline*

Presenters and session organisers MUST register for the GA2020 by this date to confirm attendance. Presenters/session organisers who have not registered by this date will have their proposals removed from the Scientific Symposium program.

Symposium Overview

The overarching theme for the GA2020 Scientific Symposium is ‘Shared Cultures – Shared Heritage – Shared Responsibility’. The theme recognises that globalisation, transnationalism, digital connectivity and the willing or forced movement of people have contributed to the making (and unmaking) of hybrid, pluralist places, practices and collections. In this sense, places, practices, objects and collections (collectively termed ‘heritage items’) are frequently connected with and valued by multiple and diverse groups and communities.

However, the idea of ‘shared’ is intentionally provocative. In an historic sense, cultures and societies have commonly shared cultural practices, ways of doing, and ideas. Nevertheless, in some cases these features have been forced upon populations and resisted rather than collectively adopted (religious beliefs, for example). In other instances knowledge and practice may be closely guarded and thus not shared (in many Indigenous cultures, for example). Additionally, some heritage items have been destroyed or damaged for what they symbolise (the Bamiyan Buddha’s, for example), thus resisting any sense of sharing or ideological tolerance. More typically in the work of heritage, places can be contested with regard to their conservation status (Sydney’s Sirius building, for example).

In adopting the term ‘shared’, the GA2020 Scientific Symposium invites participants to explore the idea of sharing—and its counterpoints, contestation and resistance—in relation to culture and heritage. We invite reviews of traditional thinking on the topic and seek new and diverse perspectives and insights that encourage discussion and dialogue. Contributions may be in the form of case study examples that illustrate different experiences or viewpoints; and academic positions that support, revise, and/or challenge contemporary scholarly work.

At its core, the overarching theme is concerned with the relationships between cultures or cultural groups and their collective responsibility for the care and safeguarding of the significant attributes, meanings and values of heritage items. Thus, ‘sharing’ in a heritage context can refer to the recognition that heritage items may be valued in various ways by different communities and cultural groups. Do such groups always have an obligation to respect diversity and cultural rights? Are they obliged to work collaboratively toward agreed approaches to the sustainable protection, conservation and safeguarding of heritage items?

Proposed Themes & Streams: An Overview

The GA2020 will comprise three THEMES (or key topics) and three STREAMS (cross-cutting subject areas) (see diagram below). These six topic areas are seen as having equivalence (rather than Streams being of a lower order than Themes). Within each Theme and Stream there will be a series of interlinked sessions that will be delivered in a variety of formats. The Themes and Streams will offer participants opportunities to be involved in and experience different and intersecting concepts and practices current in the field of heritage conservation.

Each Theme and Stream will offer a two-day program of 1-2 hour sessions (including parallel sessions within each Theme / Stream). The sessions will be constructed so as to be dynamic and with diverse formats.


Theme. A key or primary topic. GA2020 is comprised of three Themes.

Stream. A key or primary topic or subject area that cross-cuts the three GA2020 Themes. The three Streams may include sessions independent of and/or across each of the three Themes.

Session. A block of time (generally one to two hours) dedicated to a sub-topic within a Theme or Stream. At times the themes will include parallel sessions.

Format. The arrangement or setup of a session. Formats include paper presentations, lightening talks, petchakutcha (that is, 15-20 slides with each slide shown for 20 seconds), panel discussions, round table discussions (or ‘knowledge cafes’), short field visits (‘walk and talk’), debates, performance, film, posters, or any other format that delegates would like to suggest.

Heritage item. A collective term for heritage places (including historic buildings, towns and landscapes), practices, objects and collections.