Landscape Education for Democracy (LED) to Learning, Empowerment, Agency and Partnership (LEAP)










Unibo structure involved: Department of Architecture – DA
Scientific manager: Ernesto Antonini
Unibo Team: Luigi Bartolomei, Federica Fuligni, Lia Marchi
Project Web page:
Erasmus+ Action type: Strategic Partnerships for higher education
Project reference: 2019-1-NL01-KA203-060497
Start Date: 1 September 2019
End Date: 31 August 2022
Budget: Total € 318,765 - UNIBO 55,575

Coordinator: LE NOTRE Institute (NL)




The LED2LEAP project aims to bring a new way of thinking and acting into relevant university curricula in order to prepare the future generation of landscape architects, planners, architects and designers for their role as democratic leaders for sustainability. There is an urgent need for transformative competence at all levels of society since the challenges for our communities are growing across Europe. Powerful driving forces such as the globalization of work, climate change, digitalization, demographic ageing, migration, individualization, biodiversity loss and unequal resource distribution are not resolvable within the framework of election periods and sector-specific policies.

The proposal aims to develop the discussion within academia and the landscape and planning professions around the need for landscape democracy-building policies and processes related to landscape change. Linking expert and local knowledge is not only helpful to inform better decisions but also ensure policies which are both grounded in state of the art knowledge and communities’ perceptions. The partnership between academia and civil society is also embedded in the Participatory Action Research (PAR) nature of the project, and its predecessor LED seminar. This framework allows knowledge to be co-created rather than simply transferred to communities top down.

Disciplines involved in the projects are mainly landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, and architecture, social and urban studies. The consortium consists of the following university and NGOs partners: LE: NOTRE Institute (Netherlands, the project coordinator), Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Umwelt Nürtingen-Geislingen (Germany), University of Bologna (Italy), Szent István University Budapest (Hungary), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden) and the NGO Partners KultúrAktív (Hungary) and EtaBeta Cooperative (Italy).

The teams will exchange their work in a cross-cultural perspective during the LED online course, LED2LEAP living Labs and Intensive Study Programs (ISPs). The goal is to prepare future professionals to operate in cross-cultural and transdisciplinary contexts. Engaging with local partners will allow them to gain a deeper understanding of the complex challenges to address. The project goals will be achieved by the following activities: (1) Development, testing and documentation of the LED2LEAP methodology in partnership with local communities; (2) elaboration of a European professional development certificate for democratic landscape professionals (3) a series of blended learning activities combining student engagement in local ‘LED2LEAP Living Labs’, international reflection in the LED online course and international mobility of staff and students to one of the university’s ‘LED2LEAP Living Labs’ in the framework of three ISPs.

Since this project follows the methodical paradigm of a pedagogical and PAR cycle, the learning activities will be implemented during the process, and thus, evaluation and revision of the activities are closely interrelated. The output 1 ‘Reflection in Action: Community Learning Model’ will focus on identifying relevant methods for working with the communities, implementing local LED2LEAP Living Lab, joining online course and three ISPs, and evaluating and revising.

Output 1 will be exploited and disseminated in order to involve the wider context of participatory planning and community activation. The international meetings on the project outputs and core activities will be organized around the consortium partners. The project is expected to have impacts on the teaching staff involved (e.g. developing transformative competences). Students and other learners participating in the blended learning courses and the LED2LEAP Living Labs are expected to improve several competences (e.g. thinking, norms and strategies). Impacts will also occur on the institutions and municipalities in which the ‘LED2LEAP Living Labs’ are going to be initiated and activities held. Additional impacts might occur in the municipalities/areas ISPs will be held. All partner institutions are asked to disseminate the project activities and results on a national level.

The project is also expected to have European and international impacts (e.g. the new recognition process for professional development at EU level). In general, the project will support the raise of community-centred and participatory planning and design across disciplines (from local to European and International level), with all benefits related to it, in particular in the view of social coherence.