Placement with UNESCO

Jasmin Droege, PhD candidate in Economics, University of Oxford

Description and purpose of the placement

The goal of the project, which is envisaged to be a long-term cooperation between the UK and Canadian UNESCO Commission, is to map UNESCO sites (World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves, Global Geoparks). The output of the project is intended to be a mapping tool, i.e. Geographic Information System (GIS), that informs and assists site management and reporting as well as supports community involvement.

The objectives of my internship were to support the team in the early stages of the project. This involved firstly developing a concept note for the project to synthesise team members’ and project partners’ ideas. Thereafter, I supported the development of an online questionnaire and conducted interviews with external clients without supervision to establish and estimate the need for a mapping tool at the UNESCO sites. I summarised my literature review, independent research on GIS case studies, my qualitative data analysis of the questionnaire and my quantitative data analysis of periodic reports of UNESCO sites in a background paper entitled “UNESCO Designated Sites for Sustainable Development: An Opportunity for Geographic Information Systems” which I delivered to the UK UNESCO Commission at the end of my internship. 

The internship was linked to my area of research indirectly: the element of the project considering community engagement examines the value that the community places on access to the sites, how it is distributed within the sites etc. to map these locations. This element of the project relates indirectly to the modelling of extended preferences of consumers; that is, acknowledging that a fraction of the population may have preferences for consuming products that are “green” or Fair-Trade. 

Setting up the placement

I knew from earlier advertisements of DTP placements and collaborations that the DTP has worked with the UK National Commission for UNESCO in the past. Therefore, I approached the DTP’s placement officer Dr Denitsa Filipova in order to be put in contact, if possible, with the UK Commission to discuss with the organisation directly whether an internship would be possible. 

My main motivation and goals for selecting this particular organisation is that I am interested in working for UNESCO upon completion of my PhD. My research interests in the area of Economics and Culture imply a great overlap with the organisation’s priority areas (education, science, culture). In particular, I am interested in the relationship between economic and cultural value, and how their interdependency informs the individual and collective valuation of cultural goods and services. Through the internship, I have been able to network with the UK Commission, as well as the German UNESCO Commission, benefiting my future career prospects at UNESCO.

Benefits and challenges of the placement

I have developed extensive skills in:

  • survey development and delivery, and the analysis of qualitative survey results;
  • the conducting of structured interviews;
  • the writing of case studies and a summary research report;
  • the use of pivot tables in summarising (quantitative) periodic reporting data;
  • the presentation of interim findings to project partners.