Sites Unseen

Scotland has 14 UNESCO sites, including Glasgow City of Music, Wester Ross Biosphere Reserve and Shetland Global Geopark. We are working with people who live in and around the sites to create digital learning packs which use their sites as ways into explorations of cultural heritage, language, identity, and place. Each site will be paired with another UNESCO sites somewhere in the world: these pairings will allow us to explore Scotland’s global relationships. We plan to facilitate intercultural communication and join the ongoing project of decolonising education, as well as creating international partnerships between the sites which we hope will continue beyond the end of the project.

For the most up-to-date information and access to the learning packs, please visit the Sites Unseen website.

What are we making? 

  • 14 Learning packs for use in schools and community education settings 

Each pack will be based around short films which tell stories from the site. Each film will serve as a starting point for a flexible program of creative activities and games. We will be visiting schools and other community learning settings to run workshops and pilot the packs.

  • Events 

We’ll be running events around Scotland to gather information and ideas for the learning packs, and later to launch them. 

  • UNESCO Sites Unseen exhibition 

Creative responses (e.g. paintings, poetry, recordings of music) submitted in response to learning pack activities will be curated into a Sites Unseen exhibition, which will then tour museums, libraries and art galleries across Scotland. 

  • Podcasts 

Follow our podcast The Sounds of Integration, where we will be posting content related to Sites Unseen in the future: 

Why are we doing this? 

UNESCO Sites Unseen represents an ambitious program with the following aims:   

  • To celebrate Scotland’s cultural and linguistic diversity, and explore Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the world
  • To provide educators with more varied educational resources in response to their needs, helping them to make space for Scotland’s lesser-heard voices and stories in education
  • To help learners to develop a more nuanced and reflective understanding of the place they live in 
  • To support the educational work of schools and other community education settings, particularly in relation to intercultural capabilities, development of empathy, and peace-building 


The project sits alongside and complements the world’s first UNESCO Trail, developed through a unique partnership between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Historic Environment Scotland, NatureScot, the National Trust for Scotland and Scotland’s then 13 UNESCO designations, launched in October 2021.

It is also informed by the UNESCO RILA Arts Trail, a series of creative responses to the 14 place-based UNESCO designations in Scotland - an initiative that aims to increase understanding of these places, of their significance in both past and present, through artistic means, place-based learning and discussions with those who live and work on and near those sites.

The people involved

The research and the packs are made by different people. So far, the UNESCO RILA team members involved are:

Dr Sadie Ryan
Dr Brittnee Leysen
Bella Hoogeveen