Strategic Partnership Landscape Education for Democracy

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Introduction

LED (Landscape Education for Democracy) is an interdisciplinary, international course unit training conceptual thinking, diversity management and intercultural communication for building leadership competence in the spatial planning professions. To meet contemporary needs in spatial planning, we need to rethink design and planning education so that future practitioners will have the knowledge, skills and sensitivities necessary to design and implement democratic decision making in landscape planning.

LED promotes empowerment, participation and active citizenship among young people by directly addressing the topic of participation and active citizenship, thus enhancing relevant competences needed for facing social, cultural and environmental challenges in Europe. It also includes training participation methods in interdisciplinary constellations as a fruitful ground for groundbreaking new ideas for local change. In this way it clearly supports the objectives of the 2013 Communication on Opening Up Education through providing an open, online course. LED focuses on the importance of the practical, everyday application of the principles of the European Landscape Convention, the Aarhus Convention and other key accords that address landscape decisionmaking along democratic principles.

Topics covered

The course utilizes gives students the opportunity to master methods and theories typically not taught in spatial planning programs like landscape architecture or urban planning. These include: Participant Action Research, service learning, participatory design, ecological democracy and ecoliteracy. Among the many important professional skills students will acquire in the course is developing appropriate and effective means of including marginalized or disadvantaged social groups. The students will be prepared for this in the theoretical phase of the project as we will provide case studies from a variety of cities to provide best practices for how to engage marginalized groups and include them in the planning process.

Objectives

To provide a multi-element learning module on landscape and governance in a European context that introduces innovative learning methods of which both learners and educators will benefit. This includes:

  • curricular innovation by introducing landscape and democracy as a cross-disciplinary subject;
  • introduction of interdisciplinary, problem-based learning environments - both online and on site;
  • introduction of highly interactive online learning activities based on constructivist learning theory;
  • further education of teaching staff in the above mentioned areas;
  • local/regional impact of the problem-based learning activities by taking up local problems;
  • mutual learning of all European partners involved, increase of European awareness and diversity appreciation;
  • promoting empowerment, participation and active citizenship among young people by directly addressing the topic of participation and active citizenship, thus enhancing relevant competences needed for facing social, cultural and environmental challenges in Europe;
  • providing training participation methods in interdisciplinary constellations as a fruitful ground for groundbreaking new ideas for local change.

Methodology

Competence and experience existing at institutions from different European regions will be brought together in order to conduct the following activities:

  • Basic course (5 ECTS) consisting of online lectures and web-based materials aiming at understanding the theoretical foundations of community-based design, public participation and civic engagement;
  • Collaborative course (5 ECTS) during which students cooperate online in international teams, document local challenges and develop new ideas in a collaborative project;
  • International intensive programme (5 ECTS) during which students cooperate on site in one of the ‘landscape democracy labs’ at three of the partner universities. These labs are supposed to become local incubators for community-based projects and will sustain beyond the lifetime of the EU grant;
  • Development of an online platform that can visualize the project’s impact and assess who is changing their approaches and where. This would be hosted at the Centre for Landscape Democracy;
  • Conduct an accompanying research on the subject-specific, pedagogic and cultural implications of the entire project aiming at scientific publication.

Results

The project will have several permanent intellectual outputs, including:

  • Learning materials compiled by instructors and by student teams, available online with completely open access;
  • Guidance documents for instructors at higher education institutions interested in implementing the course in their own context;
  • Certification system for democracy in landscape planning.