Sustainability became a dominant key-word at the onset of the Brundtland report and, moreover, after the Eco-92 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Yet, 25 years later, the balance could not be other than to recognize our planet stands in a more unstable and less sustainable position, despite all intentions.

The Rio+20 Summit, when addressing poverty as the core issue of sustainability, called in fact for a revision of the original concept, going beyond the so-called TRB (triple bottom line, considering the environmental, social and economic dimensions).

Yet, a new understanding needs to build from human understandings and cultural diversity is crucial, and a new specific framework of reference is required, to address the challenges of Rio+20 and to converge with other global initiatives, such as “Future Earth” and the proposed “International Year of Global Understanding”.

The strategic partnership Apheleia / Ἀφέλεια aims at structuring a convergent set of tools that will foster the need for a properly Integrated (as opposed to dispersed) Cultural (i.e. human and diverse) Landscape Management (rooted in human understandings and leading towards governance through awareness and critical thinking) for Local and Global Sustainability (addressing the great global dilemmas, but also focused on individual anxieties and needs).

Such a program implies a high degree of complexity to be dealt with by the academia, but also requires efficient operative tools, that render such complexity simple for non-academics and for daily lives.

Apheleia (Ἀφέλεια), the spirit of simplicity in ancient Greece, stands as the leading and inspiring word for the current partnership, since rendering simple the complexity of things is an academic obligation and an urgent need to foster tangible down-the-line convergent actions.

Moreover, the Apheleia / Ἀφέλεια project specifically aims at contributing for an European contribution towards the global challenges as they are beeing internationally designed. Europe has been the cradle for many of the best practices in terms of sustainability, including its address to science and society interaction, and it must now promote a new framework of reference, anticipated but not yet consolidated.

An European contribution must, per definition, be open to other cultures, interests and perspectives, make the most of European diversity itself, and involve universities, the private sector, NGOs and local and regional public authorities, i.e., be based on a multi-stakeholders basis. At the same time, partnerships should be focused and leading to clear and tangible results.

Main aims:

1. To establish a solid consortium, involving academic and non-academic partners, focusing in education and best practices that for students’ applied training in transdisciplinary innovative approaches to integrated cultural landscape management.  

2. To train a selection of EU students on the complex use of convergent multidisciplinary tools for cultural integrated landscape management, through theoretical teaching and collective applied training, as well as tailored made individual study and essay, all combined in a new Intensive Program on Integrated Cultural Landscape Management for Local and global sustainability, rooted both in academic knowledge and in regional authorities cooperation.  

3. To collect, analyze and synthetize the rich field experiences gathered by the partnership members on diverse case studies distributed worldwide in order to present practical testimonies, records and professional perspectives to the involved students.  

4. To involve basic disciplinary core required competences (archaeology, technology, economy, law, sociology, geography, history, urban planning, etc., permanently integrated through transversal competences on materiality, anthropology, communication, leadership and entrepreneurship.  

5. To produce a common lexicon + website and a series of reference publications on the topic, merging theoretical and applied knowledge.  

6. To pave the way for a new European Master on the topic, as a follow up of the partnership, alongside successful case studies of innovative policies.