LED2LEAP – The Landscape Education for Democracy group starts a new ERASMUS programme promoting leadership, empowerment, agency and partnership as the principal elements of transformative planning and design.

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. This new ERASMUS+ Strategic Partnership kicked off successfully at the University of Bologna on October 25, 2019.

Kick-off meeting of the LED2LEAP team on October 25-26, 2019 in Bologna

Building on the LED resources

LED2LEAP is a follow-up of LED – Landscape Education for Democracy. This preceding ERASMUS+ project has run from 2015-2018. The LED project featured 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 students spend 10 days to partner with communities around Europe to envision democratic landscape change scenarios.

Results of the LED project are open access and include the following three outputs:

  • The LED Process Report introduces the pedagogical methodology of the LED programme. This is a useful resource for educators wishing to implement similar blended learning programmes. The report can be downloaded here.
  • The LED Online Course is available here. The course is open access and available to a global community of interest. The next course with various interactive sessions and transnational collaboration elements will start in April 2020
  • The LED Certificate describes an open qualification pathway for democratic landscape planning and design. More information can be found here:

Features of the new project

The LED2LEAP project will build on the LED open online course. New elements are the so-called ‘LED2LEAP Living Labs’. The universities will partner with local NGOs, schools, stakeholders, beneficiary groups and other society representatives to initiate the resolution of landscape democracy challenges specific to their local contexts. This process embraces a research approach called Participatory Action Research (PAR). This approach engages academics and students in deep and extended partnerships with civil society as equal partners in a research process aimed at uncovering landscape-based, action-oriented strategies for the resolution of some of their pressing sustainability challenges. The PAR approach is grounded in rigorous investigations and reflection, involving a cyclical loop of analysis, action, reflection and adaptation, to occur in the context of participatory workshops and other forms of creative citizens’ engagement. Learnings and experiences from the LED2LEAP Living Labs will be documented in the form of a methodological handbook for students and local communities.

A European partnership of universities and NGOs

The project is coordinated by the LE:NOTRE Institute, an international foundation linking landscape architecture education, research and innovative practice, based in Wageningen, Netherlands. Other partners in the consortium include Nürtingen-Geislingen University, Nürtingen, Germany; Szent Istvan University and the NGO kultúrAktív, both from Budapest, Hungary; the University of Bologna, Department of Architecture and the NGO Etabeta, both from Bologna, Italy; and SLU, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural development in Uppsala, Sweden.

The first LED2LEAP learning and living lab activities will start in spring 2020.

Ongoing information about the programme can be found at:

ECLAS Conference 2020 - Stop and Think - Postponed for one year