Stakeholder involvement has been recognised as a fundamental part of landscape planning for several decades, but real democracy has proved elusive.
«LED – Landscape Education for Democracy» is an innovative new three-year educational programme that seeks to change this.
The programme is created by a five-university consortium headed by NMBU, and has received a 309,000 Euros grant in funding by the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Programme of the European Commission.
«Landscape architects and planners have a critical role to play in promoting positive, democratic change in communities around the globe, and this comes with responsibilities to be aware of the ‘political’ nature of their public work.
«They must become aware of their social responsibility and agency. In drawing a line on a map or deciding where to place and build in the public realm, the designer encounters issues concerning ownership, rights, inclusion, and access that are central to a democratic society,» said Deni Ruggeri, associate professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences – NMBU, which is lead partner in the consortium.
The project runs from this fall (2015) until the summer of 2018 and includes virtual and traditional teaching modules.
It seeks to promote empowerment, participation and active citizenship among young people through interdisciplinary, problem-based learning environments and curricular innovation that introduces landscape and democracy as a cross-disciplinary subject.
The project features online courses available to the wider, global community as well as on-site intensive programmes that engage international groups of landscape architecture and other planning students in working directly with local communities to address landscape challenges.
In addition, LED offers students the opportunity to achieve a certificate in Landscape and Democracy, a highly practical European credential for spatial planning
«It is the hope of all the partners in the LED-project to help raise awareness by exposing students to relevant theories, methods and practices that can help them be active leaders in shaping the democratic landscapes of the future. While our initial audience is made of students, the project aims at widening the dialogue begun within the online classroom to communities around Europe, through the organisation of on-site workshops where these theories and methods will be ‘put to work’, tested, reflected upon, and disseminated to the global community, thanks to our partnership with the LE:NOTRE Institute, said Ruggeri.
The LE:NOTRE Institute aims to provide a focal point for landscape specialists of all disciplines, from theory and practice and from the public, private and not-for–profit sectors. It is a place where they can come together to exchange ideas and deepen their understanding of the landscape and of each others approach to it.
Other partners in the consortium besides NMBU Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning include Nürtingen-Geislingen University, Nürtingen, Germany; the University of Kassel School of Architecture, Urban and Landscape Planning, Kassel, Germany; Budapest Corvinus University Faculty of Landscape Architecture, Budapest, Hungary; the University of Bologna Department of Architecture, Bologna, Italy; and the LE:NOTRE Institute, a professional platform linking landscape architecture education, research and innovative practice, based in Wageningen, Netherlands.