Envisioning Southeast Asia

LESSON 4: Cultural heritage of Southeast Asia: Why does cultural heritage matter to us?

Let’s examine the concept of heritage and the different types of heritage with a focus on cultural heritage and the role of heritage in the shared histories of the region. It will also encourage students to discuss whether heritage should be preserved.

Subject History / Social Studies
Topic Cultural heritage of Southeast Asia
Key idea Regional identity in Southeast Asia has been created out of diversities and commonalities by regional organizations and through regional events as well as through everyday activities such as popular sports, art, and popular culture. This identity is continually evolving and contributes toward the envisioning of Southeast Asia as a region for the future.
Culture and heritage take multiple forms: places, objects, knowledge and traditions. They define our identity and play a role not only for our community but also in the shared histories of the region. Everyone has a role in safeguarding them.
Key concept Culture
World Heritage
Cultural heritage (moveable, immoveable, intangible/living)
Natural heritage
Level Lower secondary
No. of periods / lessons 1 – 2 periods (1 period is approximately 50 minutes)
Facilities needed A/V equipment and Internet access to play the video clips (or hard copy with similar content)
World Heritage map (downloadable)
Post-it notes
Area for museum display
Objects valued by the teacher and students
Prerequisite knowledge No prerequisite knowledge required

Learning objectives
By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:

  1. Understand what heritage, culture and cultural heritage are.
  2. Understand how  national, regional and global heritage are part of the shared histories of humanity.
  3. Understand and explain different types of heritage .
  4. Demonstrate awareness of national, regional and global issues related to cultural heritage.
  1. Conduct basic differentiation analysis of different types of heritage.
  2. Engage in discussion and debate about cultural heritage.
  1. Better appreciate culture and heritage in general.
  2. Realize the importance of heritage protection and preservation for the future generations of citizens.
  3. Cultivate greater appreciation and responsibility concerning the protection of heritage.


Download the lesson plan for details on the talks and  activities suggested below.

1. Pre-teach

Teacher and students bring an object or a photograph which they value.

2. Teacher talk

The lecture introduces several definitions of heritage and culture. It allows students to become familiar with various types of heritage (immovable, moveable, intangible) and to reflect on the value of this heritage.

3. Activity: Let’s talk about cultural heritage

Let’s talk about culture, let’s talk about heritage, let’s talk about cultural heritage.
Students discuss the meaning of the word culture and come up with their definition of heritage.

4. Group work: What is living heritage?

Individually, students think of three intangible cultural heritage shared by the people of Southeast the class to view all the answers and discuss.

5. Group work: Our cultural heritage

In small groups, students study the World Heritage Map, identify ten World Heritage sites in Southeast Asia and their characteristics. Groups compare their lists in class and discuss.

6. Alternative group work: Heritage and tourism

Students in 2 groups respectively list of (1) the advantages of tourism for a regional Heritage site, and (2) the threats caused by tourism to regional Heritage sites. Groups then present their respective lists and discuss how the threats of tourism regional heritage sites could be reduced.

7. Suggested home extension activities

  • Groups of students research and present specific UNESCO World Heritage sites in Southeast Asia, and reflect on why they were chosen as heritage sites.
  • Students create a temporary class museum.