Ioanna Katapidi


  • BRIDGE Fellow (Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Economic Development), History

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Heritage and Place Making
Heritage and Place identity
Heritage led urban regeneration
Heritage and Sustainable Development
The social construction of heritage


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Ioanna is a lecturer and has joined Ironbridge International Institute of Cultural Heritage (IIICH)  in May 2017.

Ioanna has completed her undergraduate studies in Greece and her postgraduate studies in the UK. Her first degree is in Urban and Regional Planning, from the Department of Planning and Regional Development, University of Thessaly, in Greece. Her dissertation focused on a specific category of heritage, that of traditional settlements in Greece, constituting the first systematic mapping and documentation of crucial characteristics of all the traditional settlements in Greece (almost 900 in total). She graduated with a First Honours Degree, coming first in her class and obtaining 12 scholarships and awards for her excellent performance during the 5 years of her studies.

In 2009 Ioanna moved to the UK for her MSc in Urban Regeneration, at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College of London (UCL), for which she secured funding by Achillopoulos Foundation Institute in Greece. Her dissertation explored the relationship between conservation of heritage and economic development, focusing on the efficiency of Greek conservation policies in addressing this relationship.

Her PhD was a natural evolution of her growing interest in heritage, which she completed at the School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University in 2015, receiving funding from Bodossakis Foundation. Her thesis explores the way in which people perceive heritage in living heritage places, focusing on Greek traditional settlements. The thesis particularly examines what is identified and valued as heritage and why and how conservation policies may affect these processes. The thesis argues that these are not three different aspects which can be explained through single independent factors alone, but they are interrelated forming people’s perceptions of heritage. Ioanna has closely worked with local communities in her case study areas organising focus groups and workshops and bringing together experts and residents. During her PhD, Ioanna was also actively involved in teaching and tutoring, in various courses.

Part of her research has been awarded at AESOP (Association of European Planning Schools) international conference in 2015 receiving the ‘best young academic paper’ award for a paper exploring people’s awareness of heritage.

Straight after her PhD Ioanna worked as a research associate at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. Her research during that time revolved around the area of sociotechnical studies of the urban environment focusing essentially on place identity, including the role of heritage in the construction of this identity.

Before joining IIICH Ioanna worked as a Teaching Associate at the Department of Planning and Regional Development, University of Thessaly in Greece. She was the module leader of the ‘Management of Natural, Cultural Heritage and Landscape’ course.

Ioanna is now embarking on a new journey during which she will further expand her research to respond to crucial questions related to heritage, meshing with the interests of IIICH and CHAMP (Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy, University of Illinois).  Under the broad theme of Heritage, Tourism and Economic Development, she will explore questions such as:  How does heritage contribute to place identity? What are the intersections between heritage and planning policies? How do local, regional and national identities fare within the emergence of heritage economies? How are different types of heritage received by communities in the face of social change and economic decline in the urban and rural environment? 

Research interests

My main research interest lies on the idea of heritage as a social construct. I am particularly interested in the way people perceive and ‘construct’ heritage, especially in living heritage places.

Local communities are at the core of my research exploring their importance in the identification and interpretation of heritage in order to a) understand what heritage is about, for who and why, b) the role of heritage values in leveraging economic and social benefits and c) contribute to conservation and management heritage policies capable of enhancing the economic and social sustainability of places with heritage sources.

In addition, conducting my own research and participating in a number of heritage related conferences, sparked my interest in expanding my knowledge on the following topics:  heritage-based economies and tourism, heritage and place identity, heritage and sustainable development.

Given the focus of my thesis on Greek traditional settlements, I had also the opportunity to explore heritage in the light of economic crisis and the actions towards or against conservation policies triggered by economic crisis.

Being a bridge between University of Birmingham and University of Illinois provides me the opportunity to get involved in projects in both IIICH (Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage) at University of Birmingham and CHAMP (Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy) at the University of Illinois, US.

I have been involved in an AHRC funded project named ‘World Heritage FOR Sustainable Development’. The aim of the project is to establish and build an international network that will explore various pathways by which sites already inscribed on the World Heritage List in the developing world can be sensitively mobilised so as to contribute to the fulfilment of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ultimate focus of the project will be to share innovation and best practice with and between developing nations with World Heritage Sites. It will draw upon extant research and professional engagement relating to all World Heritage sites in order to interrogate and distil working principles, issues and practice.

In addition, I will get involved in ‘The Mythic Mississippi Project’ which is a research project, educational laboratory and development initiative offered by the University of Illinois. This is a long-term multi- and interdisciplinary project exploring a dozen places of major significance in the State of Illinois.

Key issue in both projects is the involvement of different stakeholders and communities in the interpretation and management of heritage. Such an involvement aims to have direct public impacts and contribute to shaping more effective and welcome conservation policies and practices.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


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