The course will focus on questions of how the local, regional, national and EU-level administration creates different kinds of borders; how these borders and local land use systems create different landscapes and, reversely, how landscapes have an active role in the constitution of different kinds of borders. Both borders but also landscapes will be studied from different viewpoints and from within different kinds of frameworks: physical, historical, political, cultural and human geographical approaches will inform the exact study questions. Such an interdisciplinary approach is needed in order to understand the holistic nature of landscape.
The course aims to strengthen students’ knowledge of the ways of using the concept of landscape as a theoretical tool in research, focusing on geographical border questions. Special attention will be paid to the use of methods from both landscape ecology and cultural landscape studies, and including a regional-geographical perspective (including the use of Geographical Information Science – GIS) that will create a unified landscape course. After the course students will have a better understanding of the complexity of the concept of landscape and better facility to study different landscapes. The students also will have a vision of how the concept of landscape can be used as a tool of the local, regional and national environmental and land use planning and governance in different countries, and the importance of national borders in creating these special landscapes.
Over the three years, three different case regions will be studied: in 2013 the course will take place in Catalonia (the border region between Spain, France and Andorra), in 2014 in Poland (the border region between Poland and Germany) and in 2015 in Finland (the border region between Finland and Russia). This choice of research areas, affected by national administrative borders, is not arbitrary, because historical, social, political and cultural factors continue to influence significantly perceptions of these borderland landscapes.
The course will be offered for second cycle (MA) students from the University of Eastern Finland and Adam Mickiewicz University and for students at the end of the first cycle (BA) at the University of Girona. The course will be worth of 6 ECTS and these credits will be recognised by each home institution. The course will include lectures, excursions, group work, discussions and meetings with regional planning organisations and public administrations, and will conclude with a final seminar. After the course ends, students will finalise group reports that will be published on special web-pages created for the project. The reports will be also sent to possible partners and concerned actors, such as the Regional Council of North Karelia in Finland, Comunitat de Treball dels Pirineus and Euroregió Pirineus Mediterrànea in Spain, Municipal Office in Slubice, District Office in Slubice and Lubuski Provincial Office in Poland.