Landscape Education, Heritage and Justice (2019)

Discussing divergent visions during a workshop © Margherita Cisani

Project summary

The overall goal of the project is to enhance the awareness of landscape justice and democracy within educational contexts, with particular attention to the ways and the languages with which the concept of ‘landscape as heritage’ is conveyed or co-constructed. If landscape justice is concerned with issues of access, awareness and ownership, then education, as stated by the European Landscape Convention and the Faro Convention, should empower people and increase their literacy, intended as the ability to read and act with responsibility in the landscape and in relation to natural and cultural heritage, as something collectively created and shared.

Insights from ongoing research on landscape and education in Italy (in particular from the statistical analysis of data collected with an online survey in 2018) show that this approach is less represented and isolated.

Therefore, our specific goals are to:

  • deepen the research, focussing specifically on the languages, images and discourses used to convey the idea of landscape as a shared or, alternatively, imposed heritage;
  • design and provide an educational toolkit (both online and offline) for landscape educators, in order to offer an easy-to-use example of a didactic activity aimed at enhancing the awareness on landscape and heritage as justice issues.

Progress and activities

The project consists in two different but strictly interrelated activities: on one hand we are proceeding with the reflection around the issue of landscape justice within pedagogical activities dedicated to landscape and heritage and, on the other hand, we are exploring and testing didactical methodologies and activities based on a gaming approach, in order to find the right structure for the interactive educational activity that will be hosted within the website of the project.

One small, but decisive, step toward in the implementation of the project has been the decision on the name of the website: LAND-ED.

Land-Ed means of course LANDscape EDucation but it is also the verb ‘landed’, suggesting the idea of something that is grounded into our experience of the world, something that from the hazy and confused domain of air and clouds, flies down closer to us, revealing its complexity with examples and operational tools.

Another key advancement is related to the landscape location which will be the context of the interactive online activity. Val Brenta, a narrow valley between the massifs of the Venetian Prealps, is the chosen area, as it offers multiple opportunities to explore the relationship between landscape, heritage and justice. Among the other issues, this area, once largely devoted to the cultivation of tobacco on its terraced slopes, is now experiencing abandonment and degradation, notwithstanding the world-renowned importance of the art of dry-stone walling, as a key heritage for the local communities in terms of identity and of environmental integrity of the settlements.

Lastly, among the ongoing activities, we are conducting workshops with teachers in the contexts of the Landscape Observatories of the Veneto Region and with the collaboration of our partners, with a specific focus on the use of games as pedagogical tools, in order to collect comments and suggestions on this project, while testing multiple pedagogical activities.

Related papers:

  • Castiglioni & Cisani (2020) The complexity of landscape ideas and the issue of landscape democracy in school and non-formal education: exploring pedagogical practices in Italy, Landscape Research, DOI: 10.1080/01426397.2020.1741528

Applicant: Margherita Cisani, Italy