This declaration by UNISCAPE Network University Rectors, assembled for the first time in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain) on 23th November 2018, is to assert their firm commitment to promoting a coordinated transdisciplinary approach to, and increasing the importance of, university landscape studies in Europe by working with National Councils of Rectors, Ministries of Higher Education and the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
In recent years, local and regional authorities and civil society have increasingly demanded that landscape – i.e. “landscape as perceived by people, whose character is the result of action and interaction of natural and/or human factors “1 – receive more attention from policy-makers. Landscape is continuously changing due to a wide range of factors arising from nearly every important policy and production process sector. Meeting the challenges of sustainable landscape development entails greater involvement by qualified professionals (“landscape specialists”) as required by the European Landscape Convention.
Universities need to take up this challenge, overcoming the current limitations of a rigidly compartmentalized academic structure of disconnected disciplines in order to support transdisciplinary landscape education, research and training aligned with the principles enshrined in the European Landscape Convention. These principles, further elaborated since the year 2000 when the European Landscape Convention was opened for ratification, provide a new, solid framework placing landscape at the forefront of European policies on cultural heritage, architecture, environment, urban and rural development, agriculture, food production and spatial planning.
Different from previous approaches that focused mainly on the protection and conservation of cultural and natural heritage, for the first time the Convention presents landscape as a comprehensive vision combining both natural and cultural aspects of any kind of landscape with special emphasis on the social dimension of landscape, particularly the well-being of people and their relationship with the environment they inhabit.
We foresee a rich panorama of opportunities arising in the coming years from a landscape approach, enabling us to re-think and adapt the framework of universities to address new challenges by finding synergies between social demands and environmental and spatial planning and design issues to create a sound future for European landscapes.
We believe that effective action is needed to meet the principles and requirements of University Landscape Education in Europe (see Appendix).
We, the undersigned Rectors, Vice-Rectors and their delegates,
- that universities have a crucial role in education, research and information exchange, and
- that university leadership should provide initiative and support to mobilize internal and external resources for the protection, management, planning and projects of future European Landscapes, AGREE :
to promote the following actions:
- Integrate landscape issues and the dimension of landscape into the fields and disciplines of university education wherever possible;
- Encourage all universities nationally to engage in academic landscape education and training;
- Collaborate in fostering national awareness of landscape topics in university networks and Councils of Rectors.
Document drafted under the responsibility of UNISCAPE President and Executive Board (Florence, 6th May 2019) and approved by UNISCAPE General Assembly (La Coruna, 20th June 2019).
The Declaration is the result of a STATEMENT OF INTENT signed during the First Meeting of the Rectors of UNISCAPE Netowrk, held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 23th November 2018 | MORE INFO |