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Partnering for transformative change
A virtual classroom for democratic landscape planning and design

The LED team is proud to announce that registration for the 2018 Landscape Education for Democracy online seminar is open. The LED project has started its final year. To date, the course has seen the participation of 100 students from around the world. The seminar has been followed by two participatory workshops in Zingonia (Italy) and Kassel-Nordstadt (Germany).

Landscape Education for Democray
LED Project / CC BY
Landscape Education for Democray
The landscape belongs to everyone and everyone has the right to participate in making decisions about its future use or preservation. Landscape resources should be accessible and supportive of all populations – not just the wealthy and powerful. Planners and designers have a key responsibility in promoting participation, yet spatial planning and design education offers few opportunities for students to learn and practice democratic design, participatory planning, in partnership with the communities they serve.

The LED – Landscape Education for Democracy educational programme has been conceived by a five-university consortium and funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as a collaborative, digital classroom that engages students in a cross-disciplinary, transcultural exploration of the theories, methods and practices for the implementation of landscape democracy. The programme features two course offerings: an online seminar available to a global community of students and young professionals in environmental design and on-site intensive summer programmes where a selected group of online students spend 10 days to partner with communities around Europe to envision democratic landscape change scenarios.

In 2016 the LED team met in the New Town of Zingonia in northern Italy to envision how the Modernist physical environment of the community could be leveraged as a tool for promoting landscape democracy. The students’ proposals have been collected in a report, which can be downloaded here

Last July, the LED workshop participants took their newly acquired knowledge to work in the multicultural community of the Nordstadt, a workers district in the German city of Kassel. Over the course of 10 days, they worked with community members to envision changes to their public landscapes that could help bridge across ethnic and cultural divides. The Kassel documentation can be found here.

The next online course will begin on March 28, 2018. It will meet on a digital platform every Wednesday between 14 00 and 15 30 CET. In June 2018 the LED Team will travel to Törökbalint, a small town in the metropolitan area of Budapest, Hungary, for the last LED Summer Intensive programme, where students will have the opportunity to envision new strategies to promote stronger community identity in the context of a fast changing physical and social landscape, torn between center and periphery, and between old residents' and newcomers' place identities.

 “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, 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 coordinates 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.”

Partners in the LED project include the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Aas, Norway, Nürtingen-Geislingen University, Germany; the University of Kassel, Germany; Budapest’s Szent Itzvan University in Budapest, Hungary; the University of Bologna, Italy; and the LE:NOTRE Institute of Wageningen, Netherlands, an NGO that promotes cooperation in landscape education, research and innovative practices.

Additional information about the programme can be found at:

Contact for further information:

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11. Dec 2017
Reported by Ellen Fetzer, Deni Ruggeri



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