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Next spring will mark the first offering of the Cultural Landscape Field School in Veneto, northeastern Italy. The three credit course will be offered from May 12 to 26, 2010 to upper-level undergraduate and masters students from the faculties of Environment and Geography, Geology, the Natural Resources Institute, and Architecture at the University of Manitoba.

The objective of the course is to introduce students to the dynamics of landscape formation, including natural and cultural processes, and the contemporary efforts to conserve cultural landscapes. Over an intensive two-week journey along the short, yet diverse transect that links the Venice Lagoon to the Dolomite mountains near the Austrian boarder, the course will provide students with the conceptual frameworks to identify the connections between historical and present day management systems, and gain hands-on experience in techniques of landscape research. Students will be working with an interdisciplinary group of peers, faculty, Italian scholars and local practitioners.

The first section of the course will be developed in Venice, where trade relationships enabled the Venetian Republic to influence the landscape of the hinterland. The second section will focus on the contemporary landscapes of the pre-alpine valleys, visiting areas that are being presently re-valorized by a host of initiatives including protected areas (Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, part of a recently created UNESCO World Heritage Site which is discussed in this essay), organic certification of local foods, local dairy and food cooperatives, and tourism ‘roads’ linking traditional activities and products. Small scale agriculture will be contrasted with the highly economically successful Prosecco wine region of Valdobbiadene. The third section will tie the course together with visits to the mines of Valle Imperina, part of the national park, and the forest of Cansiglio, where both landscapes show signs of centuries of Venetian mining and timber management.

Scenic accommodations will be provided in Venice and in two different locations, at the foot of the national park and in the forest of Cansiglio. Private vehicles will allow quick access to different locations on the itinerary. For more information, please contact Dr. Iain Davidson-Hunt.

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