Viviana Ferrario (Università  Iuav di Venezia)


Course description
This course aims to examine the controversial relationship between landscape, viewed as “the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors” (European Landscape Convention, 2000), and heritage, identified as “a group of resources inherited from the past” (Faro Convention, 2005) in a geographic perspective. After a general introduction to heritage studies and landscape studies and the current debate at their interface, the course will focus on agricultural landscape as a new frontier in these fields.
Several new initiatives around the world – namely, some recent UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites (WHS) and Intangible cultural heritage (ICH), FAO’s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), ICOMOS’s World Rural Landscape Initiative (WRL) – are increasingly recognising the importance of traditional agricultural landscapes for their agricultural, ecological and cultural diversity, their crucial role in sustainably provide multiple goods, services, food and livelihood security, and their being a storage of lessons to be learned for future innovation in agriculture while preserving local cultural heritage. What does it imply to consider agricultural landscape as heritage? How do we inherit traditional agricultural landscapes? Why are they important for the future? What factors are threatening them today? Are global and national initiatives successful in preserving them?
Firstly, agricultural landscape will be acknowledged as an object of study in a transdisciplinary perspective, in its synchronic and diachronic complexity, following the different trajectories that link agricultural landscape dynamics to various political, social and cultural context. A particular focus will be devoted to agricultural landscape in the Veneto region, to its historical geography, its heritage values, its current changes.
Secondly, global heritage designations like UNESCO, GIAHS, WRL will be examined in detail, as well as the Italian National Register of Historical Rural Landscapes, analysing their objectives, their strategies, and their limits.
One or two field trips will be scheduled to visit some agricultural heritages in the Veneto region.

Learning outcomes
Students will develop their critical thinking dealing with the very concept of “landscape” and “heritage”; they will learn to read any agricultural landscape in its synchronic and diachronic complexity; they will be able to submit official designation documents to a critical reading using techniques of Discourse Analysis.

Teaching and evaluation methods
Lectures displaying multimedia materials and promoting class discussion.
Students will be asked to personally contribute to the course:
- Sharing their personal experience about the agricultural landscape of their home Countries (oral presentation + discussion) for the mid-term evaluation.
- Developing a personal work about a case study taken among those designated by UNESCO or GIAHS, under the professor’s supervision, for the final evaluation.

60% oral presentation and participation to class discussion, final examination
40% personal work

Agnoletti M. (eds.), Italian Historical Rural Landscapes. Cultural Values for the Environment and Rural Development, Springer, 2013.
Antrop M., Why landscapes of the past are important for the future, Landscapes and Urban Planning 70 (2005), pp. 21-3.
Cosgrove D., The palladian landscape. Geographical Change and Its Cultural Representations in Sixteenth-Century Italy, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993 (selected chapters)
V. Ferrario, “Learning from agricultural heritage? Lessons of sustainability from Italian “coltura promiscua”, Sustainability 13(16), 8879.
Howard et al. (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies, Routledge 2020 (selected chapters)
Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 18, Issues 3–4, February 1990, 289–352 (Special Issue “Changing Agricultural Landscapes of Europe”)
Primdahl J. and Swaffield S. (eds.), Globalisation and Agricultural Landscapes – Change Patterns and Policy Trends in Developed Countries. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2010 (selected chapters)
Sereni E., History of the Italian Agricultural Landscape (translated by R. Burr Litchfield), Princeton University Press, 1997 (1961) (selected chapters)
Waterton and Watson E. (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Heritage Research, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 (selected chapters).
Bibliographic materials will be provided to the students in digital copy, for their personal use only.

No preliminary knowledge is required.


Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272