Program Background


Heritage Resource Management and Cultural Resource Management are often used interchangeably to describe efforts to identify, assess, and reduce impacts to cultural resources threatened by land alteration and resource extraction projects.

Once perceived as a fallback career for academic archaeologists, Heritage Resource Management has emerged as a dominant and dynamic area of professional practice. Allied fields include architecture, museum studies, object conservation, public history, heritage tourism, and environmental planning and management.

The key difference between cultural resources and heritage resources is that the latter, by definition, have value to living people. The field of Heritage Resource Management acknowledges and seeks to perpetuate the aesthetic, economic, historical, scientific, social, and spiritual values that individuals and communities associate with places, objects and traditions.

The Heritage Resource Management industry services clients in seven primary sectors: defense, energy, forest products, mining, real estate, transportation, and water. Canada and the United States are by far the largest market for heritage resource management services. The flip side is that the largest potential growth areas for all or most of these sectors are outside of Canada and the United States.

The continued vitality and integrity of the HRM profession and industry depends on practitioner commitments to savvy management, global outlook, research excellence, respectful engagement with local communities, and the successful negotiation of licenses to operate on diverse social and jurisdictional levels. 

SFU’s Program is built on the idea that individual leaders can make real differences in assuring that the full spectrum of heritage resources are considered in project planning and implementation. We bring candidates into new avenues of understanding and inquiry concerning the complexity and potential of heritage resource management today. The Program’s four courses and thesis requirement will upgrade, broaden and professionalize each candidate’s knowledge of contemporary issues and dynamics in Heritage Resource Management while expanding their frames of reference to global scales. 

The Heritage Resource Management MA Program does not provide training in archaeology per se. Instead, the Program curriculum is designed to serve the needs and interests of existing professionals who hold Bachelor’s degrees, demonstrate research and writing capabilities, and a commitment to a career in heritage resource management.

The Program is designed to support participation by students living outside British Columbia and to accommodate those with family and professional obligations that would make it difficult to participate in on-campus graduate programs. The Program uses advanced distance learning technologies— SFU’s Canvas platform—to support exceptionally high quality learning environments. The SFU Centre for Online and Distance Education is the Program partner for course development and delivery.

Our goals are to:

Prepare students for satisfying careers as heritage resource management leaders committed to collaborative management of diverse heritage comprised of multiple values.

Boost the quality of heritage resource management by teaching practical knowledge and skills in each of the field’s four principal areas—law/policy, practice/ethics, business/management, and research design and methods.

Recognize heritage resource management as a diverse and dynamic international field that demands critical and tactical thinking to achieve objects in research, compliance, commerce, and community engagement and development.

Maintain excellent learning environments and open and constructive communications among students, alumni, faculty and heritage owners, as well as heritage resource management regulators, practitioners and stakeholders.

Increase the number, diversity, expertise, and integration of heritage resource management practitioners who hold graduate credentials, meet professional qualification standards for multiple jurisdictions, and share commitments to professional, conservation-oriented management of diverse heritage from treasured pasts.