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Rudolf Agricola School for Sustainable Development
Bringing sustainability science forward

Sustainable Landscapes Summer Schools

Sustainable Landscapes - The Wadden Experience

How to steer towards sustainability at the landscape level? In the Northern part of the Netherlands lies the World Heritage Wadden Sea Region. Within this region, human and natural landscape development is strongly intertwined. The region has a strong drive towards sustainable development. Many questions are unresolved however. How to combine mass-tourism with a sensitive natural area? How can wind parks, power plants, natural gas extraction, fisheries and agriculture fit in? What role is there for cultural heritage and identity? How to combine competitive economic activities with utter stillness?

The Sustainable Landscapes team of the University of Groningen in cooperation with the Wadden Academy welcomes you to explore these issues, both theoretically and through experiencing the Wadden landscape from within. Join us for a five day sailing trip with lectures by leading experts. The lectures will show you scientific perspectives from different fields. We explore the themes of cultural heritage; coastal tourism; landscape stewardship; regional food production; and sustainable enterpreneurship.

Each lecture is supported by cutting edge literature – which you can study in advance. In addition to the lectures, you will dive into socio-ecological modelling and social innovation. You and your 19 fellow participants will meet several stakeholders and .. you will be actively sailing the Wadden Sea!

For current information see here

Islands as Laboratories for Sustainability. The case of Lesvos

Islands are special cases for Sustainable Development. Methodologically and scientifically, islands are ideal ‘laboratories’ for sustainable landscape stewardship. Islands are unique in both attractiveness and climate vulnerability, they are relatively isolated and ‘on their own’ compared to mainland areas, yet they are also more dependent and need to be well-connected to other areas more than mainland areas. The summer school is aimed at combining all these different perspectives.

The summer school focuses on the Mediterranean island of Lesvos which is home to what is known as Aristotle’s lagoon and has also been described as the birthplace of the science of biology; an island well-known for its unique biodiversity, a petrified forest and many scenic landscapes reflecting in its UNESCO Geopark status. The island is also the birthplace of great literary figures and has a very rich cultural history. It has also long been a popular tourism (and eco-tourism) destination. More recently it has been at the centre of global media attention as the crossing land of refugees’ flight to safety and key gateway to Europe.

Overall the central question of the summer school is: How to come to sustainable development amidst starkly different island dynamics? Students in this summer school are challenged to blend perspectives towards sustainability: to understand the current situation and to research possible sustainable futures building via a multi-disciplinary approach. Questions that will be considered and addressed include: How can an island like Lesvos (as a case study) move towards an ambitious and successful energy transition? How to combine conservation in core nature areas with development in the surrounding landscapes? How can the challenges and opportunities of the refugee crisis can be met in socially sustainable ways? What are the prospects for sustainable social and economic development?

For current information see here

Designing Sustainable Landscapes Within Regional Food Systems

Learn all about designing sustainable regional food systems and agroecological landscapes for the North of The Netherlands! A redesign of the agricultural systems and resulting landscapes is urgently needed. The north of The Netherlands is a region that has the potential to become an example and lead the way towards sustainable food production, playing a key role at national and international levels.

Agricultural systems in the North of The Netherlands exhibit the same problems observed in other regions of intensive farming. Problems such as high dependence on external inputs and financial subsidies, environmental pollution, GHG emissions and biodiversity loss; with the aggravating consequences of high land and labour prices and farmers’ elevated degrees of financial indebtedness. Yet the northern region of The Netherlands, comprising the provinces of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe, has a great potential for agricultural production thanks to its favourable environment in terms of soils and climate, and to the know-how of a highly professionalised agricultural sector.

The region also hosts a large and vibrant food industry, and centres of knowledge and excellence. The diversity of soils and environments in the North means that a large diversity of agricultural activities can take place in the region, with the potential to create a solid base for a more local and circular agricultural sector. Yet, biodiversity has been declining in the region over the last four decades, chiefly as a consequence of agricultural intensification.

In this summer school, you will focus on the North of the Netherlands as a case study region. You will visit farms, go to landscape lectures and conduct interviews with various stakeholders (farmer organisations, advisors, food industry, retailers, local government, academia, etc.). This will be supplemented with background literature and lectures by specialists from various disciplines (agriculture, ecology, geography, economics, nutrition, political and social sciences) to provide you with all the necessary elements to design sustainable regional food systems and agroecological landscapes for the North of The Netherlands.

For current information see here

Last modified:02 June 2023 2.33 p.m.
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