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LED program seeks to build democracy into landscape architecture

LE:NOTRE Institute to participate in a three-year ERASMUS+ Strategic Partnership. The project seeks to help spatial planning students learn practices that help build more inclusive societies.

LED project / CC BY
LED project
“The landscape is an important part of the quality of life for people everywhere: in urban areas and in the countryside, in degraded areas as well as in areas of high quality, in areas recognised as being of outstanding beauty as well as everyday areas…the landscape is a key element of individual and social well-being and that its protection, management and planning entail rights and responsibilities for everyone.”
--Preamble, European Landscape Convention

The landscape belongs to everyone, we should all participate in deciding how it is used, and landscape resources should serve all populations – not just the wealthy and powerful. But spatial planning education rarely includes topics such as democratic processes, participatory planning, community-based planning or other topics and does not fully prepare designers and planners to effectively work in partnership with the communities they serve.

This was the inspiration for“LED– Landscape Education for Democracy,”– an innovative new three-year educational programmecreated by a five-university consortium and funded by the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Programme of the European Commission.

The project runs from this fall until summer 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 professionals.

“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. “it is the hope of all the partners in the LED project to help raise such 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.”

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, an international foundation linking landscape education, research and innovative practice, based in Wageningen, Netherlands.

Ongoing information about the programme can be found at:


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17. Sep 2015
Reported by LE:NOTRE Institute team


public participation (en), stakeholder engagement (en), Participatory planning (en), stakeholder engagement (en), Participatory Design (en), stakeholder engagement (en), Landscape Democracy (en), stakeholder engagement (en)

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