The Landscape deserves its own degree course

The University of Padua is a founding member of UNISCAPE (the network of universities involved in applying the European Landscape Convention), and this October is due to launch a new master’s degree in Landscape Sciences.

An critical theme for the future

Anyone who lives in the Dolomites would have no trouble explaining the meaning of the word “landscape”. He would simply do so by looking around – at the villages, the hay meadows, the woods surmounted by the crosses – and this gesture would convey a sense of belonging, as if to say: this is ours. It is ours, and shared by all humanity, as UNESCO recognition implies. The inhabitants of any other place would do the same. Philosophers would refer to this as a “phenomenon”, in that it relates not only to the territory as it is, but also as it appears to us. Our “perception” of a place influences the way we relate to it, and therefore the strategies we adopt to enhance it. Now, twenty years on from the “European Landscape Convention” (signed in Florence on 20 October 2000), the University of Padua has decided to put into practice its aims.

The course

The Degree Course takes a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary approach, with the aim of developing expertise in project management, planning, protection, and landscape culture. What are the objectives? For example, it will aim to teach students: how to design frameworks for landscape planning and draw up the type of reports required for UNESCO applications; how to promote and enhance the quality of the local landscape (through careful and sustainable tourist packages and with schemes that promote products related to the local landscape), and how to communicate in an inventive way, encouraging local participation and education.

The degree course will use innovative teaching methods, with a strong emphasis on workshops. In addition to teaching particular frameworks and methods, the course will also include technical and scientific studies (regional planning, landscape ecology, landscape and the Anthropocene era), and socio-humanistic content (the culture and representation of urban landscapes, historical landscapes, the relationship between cinema and landscape, landscape archaeology, enhancement and promotion of tourism).

The challenge is on

The importance of our landscape is now generally recognised, and the course launched by the University of Padua therefore aims to develop new and vital skills. Professionals are needed to face the hardest challenge for our territories: that of combining protection and development, promotion and awareness, but based on a thorough understanding of the features of the various landscapes and the way they are represented.