The chair is framed as a transdisciplinary programme, rooted in the Human Sciences and focused on Cultural Landscape Management and Sustainability. In this sense, the chair fosters the integration also with natural and social sciences, following the scope of the European project Apheleia (www.apheleiaproject.org) and its results. The chair will also contribute to strengthen this approach in partner universities, namely in the Global South, aiming at training sustainable transdisciplinary management leaders for territories’ development, resilence and governance.
The core methodology of the chair foresees four pillars for territorial governance, as defined in Oosterbeek 2012: education and training; sociocultural matrix reconstruction; stakeholder’s engagement; and communication. It considers heritage management as a nuclear component of the territorial management, valuing the relevance of material remains for shared landscape understanding and of intangible heritage for self-recognition and agency. Thus the main importance of strategies to counter all sorts of alienation, but also of valuing contradiction and divergence as a main survival and innovation strategy. This approach meets the focus of UNESCO on mobilizing for education, building intercultural understanding, pursuing scientific cooperation and protecting freedom of expression. Moreover, it seats at the heart of the debates on sustainability, and “The Future We Want”.
IPT has established, in partnership and as part of its institutional development strategy, the Centre of Polytechnic Studies of Mação, with dedicated resources (specialized library, online services, lecture and workshop rooms, laboratories, large auditorium), in close relation with the Humanities group of the Geosciences Centre of Coimbra University and a RI&D Institute for the Humanities (Instituto Terra e Memória). This centre, based in Mação, “UNESCO Global Learning Cities Network” member, is the basis of the chair.
The Erasmus Mundus ongoing Master programmes, as well as the PhD programmes on Heritage (with the University of Extremadura, in Spain) and on Quaternary and Prehistory (with the Universities of Ferrara, Tarragona and National Museum of Natural History of France), are the structuring teaching programmes. Yet, collaboration is also established with research degrees in the other partner universities (e.g. PhD on Environmental Policies at the University of Cabo Verde, PhD on History at the Federal University of Santa Maria/Brazil). Visiting professors and students mobility are a major component of the programme.
An intensive training programme is organised every year, following the methodology of the Apheleia partnership. This will also be associated to fundamental and applied research (as part of current epistemological and methodological debates in the Humanities). Publications will result from all these activities, and institutional development, through the establishment of new applied projects and the enlargement of the network, is also expected.
In strategic terms, the project intervenes in the global debate on sustainability, amidst a crisis that stresses the pressure on social and economic aspects, rather than on the environmental dimension. In this respect, the project will contribute to promote long established Humanistic values, namely human dignity (the core of the Rio+20 statement), freedom and democracy (crucial for an efficient integration of various and distinct cultural understandings of the landscape), equality of rights and social equity (pre-conditions not only of the still active Agenda 21, but also of the Millennium goals), the rule of law and respect for human rights (namely the rights of persons belonging to cultural minorities); general socio-political democratic principles (crucial for a resilient landscape management, namely pluralism, non-discrimination, justice, solidarity and gender equality) and tolerance (in fact, more than this, the understanding that cultural differences are essential for social resilience and that minority cultural options stand for alternatives within society, that should be cherished rather than merely tolerated).
In contextual terms, the project will reinforce human capital related to social competences for generating integrative trends in social dynamics, through a greater qualification of new younger leading agents (the current students). In this sense, the generated human capital leads, on its end, to the reinforcement of social capital. This new human capital will be educated on the basis of basic transversal skills: entrepreneurship (leadership), digital skills (e.g. the museography strategies involving ICT) and multilingualism.
By addressing obstacles and divides of social, economic, cultural, geographical or other nature, the project will also have an impact on equity and inclusion (e.g. through specific inclusion strategies for disabled people as part of ILM considerations and Museographic approaches).
The Intensive seminars will be an important result, since despite not being an objective but a means to achieve the objectives, the fact remains they will be a major event every year, with a potentially very strong impact in society, as previous seminars organized by IPT since 1998 have demonstrated.
Finally, the project will enable an efficient and fast knowledge transfer among partners, namely educative global strategies, e.g. the social matrix developed by ITM, or the didactic communication tools to be prepared in the framework of the International Year of Global Understanding and what we expect to become a decade of dissemination of its initial impact.