Community Planning and Ecological Design in Sicily
The Graduate Program in Urban Planning and Community Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to offer students interested in resident-led environmental stewardship and planning the opportunity to learn about and contribute to one of Europe’s most ambitious regional sustainability initiatives: The Simeto River Agreement.
This program is a 10-day field experience in the Simeto Valley, Province of Catania (Sicily, Italy), in which participants will study and directly contribute to the efforts of local officials and community organizations toward promoting a regional development plan inspired by the values of social solidarity and environmental sustainability.
Over the past years, towns in the Simeto River Valley have worked to develop the “Simeto River Agreement,” a shared document that identifies a set of rules and regulations to be considered in future planning and design processes that affect local communities. Today, ten municipalities in the Simeto Valley (Paternò, Adrano, Biancavilla, Santa Maria di Licodia, Belpasso, Centuripe, Motta S. Anastasia, Ragalna, Regalbuto and Nicolosi) have already signed this formal document. Within the broad framework offered by the “Simeto River Agreement,” the program offers the opportunity to learn about community development from an inter-disciplinary perspective, through a participatory action research methodology.
Each year the Simeto community identifies a particular issue or challenge that the program is expected to address. Over the course of the program students collaborate with community members to carry out research and development initiatives that contribute to the implementation of the Simeto River Agreement. Some likely topics are:
- water cycle enhancement
- soft mobility and walkability
- circular economy projects
- organic and culture-led farming
- cultural heritage and tourism
- historic preservation
Location: The 2018 Summer Program in Environmental Planning in Sicily will be take place in the ten towns located along the Simeto River. Students and faculty will be sharing meals and lodging at a series of Bed and Breakfast facilities whose owners are active members of the various associations that are part of the Participatory Presidium. All meals, lodging, ground transport, field research expenses, teaching and organizational services are provided by Parliament Watch Italia, an Italian non-profit educational organization.
Following a service-learning and participatory action research methodology, the workshop gives participants the opportunity to:
- Experience action-research through the constant collaboration with a broad network of local actors (public, private, non-profit) that have been active in conceiving, shaping and implementing “the Simeto River Agreement,” contributing to a real process of development in one of the most disadvantaged European Regions;
- Enrich your knowledge of theory and practice of community development, through lectures and study sessions led by internationally acclaimed scholars;
- Be part of an interdisciplinary team that will give the opportunity to learn from colleagues with the same interests but different background and experiences. Plenary activities will be paralleled with interdisciplinary small team working sessions, led by experienced scholars and members of the local community.
All participants will register for UPCD 622, Citizen Participation (3 graduate credits).
Credit will be granted by UMass Boston, but qualified students, including recent graduates, from other universities are welcome to participate on a credit or non-credit basis, space permitting.
Schedule: June 9 - 20, 2018
Total Fee: $3,500
Breakdown of Cost:
$1,500: Logistics Fee, paid directly to Parliament Watch Italia. This fee includes meals, lodging, ground transport, and field research expenses, teaching and organizational services
$1,000: University of Massachusetts Boston Graduate Tuition Fee
$1,000: Estimated round trip airfare from Boston to Catania
Round trip airfare is the responsibility of the participant. Please do not purchase airfare or make travel arrangements until you have received formal notice of acceptance into the program. Participants who do not travel round trip from the U.S. must also purchase their own emergency evacuation insurance.
Application and Payment Deadlines:
April 4: Applicants will be notified of acceptance before April 10, and must be prepared to pay a deposit of $500 to Parliament Watch Italia by April 15.
May 15: Participants must pay the balance of logistics fee to Parliament Watch Italia and the UMass Boston Graduate tuition fee
American citizens need a valid passport only; no visa required. International students should consult the Italian Consulate for specific visa requirements.
Completed applications will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis until the course is full. Early applications are strongly encouraged. Applications received after the deadline will be considered if space is available.
This 6th Annual Summer Program in Community Planning and Ecological Design in Sicily is being co-sponsored by the:
- The Simeto Participatory Presidium – This community-based organization is responsible for initiating the highly participatory planning process that produced the Simeto River Agreement;
- University of Catania – The Simeto Participatory Presidium oldest university partner in research, planning, design and development;
- University of Massachusetts Boston – The Simeto Participatory Presidium's newest academic sponsor whose faculty and students will be contributing their planning and design knowledge and skills to this year’s Summer Program and whose faculty will be supervising a 3-credit field-based graduate course for UMass Boston students participating in the program.
- Antonio Raciti, Assistant Professor, Graduate Program in Urban Planning and Community Development, UMass Boston;
- Kenneth M. Reardon, Professor and Director, Graduate Program in Urban Planning and Community Development, UMass Boston;
- Katherine Lambert-Pennington, Associate Professor in Anthropology, University of Memphis;
- Laura Saija, Assistant Professor in City and Regional Planning, University of Memphis.
- CoPED 2016. Community Development Plan for the City of Paternò: projects for the advancement of the Simeto River Agreement. http://www.memphis.edu/planning/programs/documents/2016coped_report.pdf
- CoPED 2017. The Simeto Zero Waste Strategy: A proposal for the concrete implementation of a key development objective of the Simeto River Agreement. http://www.memphis.edu/planning/programs/documents/2017coped_report.pdf
- Extract from: Magnaghi, A. (2005). The Urban Village: A Charter for Democracy and Sustainable Development in the City. Zed books.
- Extract from: Smith, D. M., & Finley, M. I. (1968). A history of Sicily (Vol. 2). Chatto & Windus.
- Saija, L. (2014). Proactive conservancy in a contested milieu: from social mobilisation to community-led resource management in the Simeto Valley. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 57(1), 27-49.
- Mangione, J. (1985). A passion for Sicilians: The world around Danilo Dolci. Transaction Publishers.
- Raciti, A. (2016). Building Collective Knowledge Through Design: The Making of the Contrada Nicolò Riparian Garden Along the Simeto River (Sicily, Italy). Landscape Research, 41(1), 45-63.
- Raciti A., Saija L. (forthcoming) From Ecosystem Services to Ecological Devices. The CoPED Summer School Experience in the Simeto River Valley, Italy. Journal of Urban Management.
For further academic information please contact:
Antonio Raciti, Assistant Professor
Graduate Program in Urban Planning and Community Development
School for the Environment
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125
For application and travel information, please contact:
Please be advised that international programs are subject to change, slight or major, at any time due to circumstances beyond our control; this includes any and all fees, dates, itinerary, and program activities. We will do our best to inform all applicants of any changes in as timely a manner as possible.