The UNESCO Chairs project was born in 1991 to strengthen and develop collaborative and exchange relationships between educational institutions around the world. The goal of this project is to make UNESCO a workshop of ideas and a catalyst for international cooperation through universities and other institutions of higher education and research. The University of Florence has set up two UNESCO Chairs: "Human Development and Peace Culture" active since 2006 and the latest "Prevention and Sustainable Management of Geo-hydrological Hazard" in 2016.
The higher education, research and international cooperation work carried out by the Chair is centered on "The Historical Challenge of the Planetary Civilization", which is the title of its new UNESCO-approved general project for the four year period 2017-2021.
The subtitle defines the field of research and the transdisciplinary character: “Towards the Earth's Humanism. In search of the 'co-science' and 'co-growth' beyond the violence”, which are articulated into three macro-programs: The Complex Research, The Earth Citizenship, The Care of the Common House.
These themes are investigated through specific projects, carried out through a network of the territories-laboratories of experimentation, modelling, transfer and international diffusion. The entire work of the Chair refers to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, in conjunction with the UNESCO Priority Actions.
The Chair, directed since 2006 by Paolo Orefice, Professor Emeritus of General and Social Pedagogy, is among the few transdisciplinary chairs within the UNITWIN Program to deal with human development in coherence with the culture of peace from the point of view of the education of human beings. This is attained through focus groups, human development models and a peace culture that have been elaborated and tested in more than a decade of international cooperation, based on the long-standing scientific, theoretical and applied experience of its director.
The Chair operates based on the Participatory Action Research on the fundamental interaction between the intangible development of the knowledge base of people, groups and cultures and the tangible development of anthropic territories. Hence the priority is given to the educational enhancement of knowledge in planetary coexistence beyond the logic of opposites that generates violence.
More details about the Chair in the downloadable document (pdf).
The activity of the Chair is the subject of a volume published by Firenze University Press, “Orientamenti teorici e azioni strategiche. Cattedra Transdisciplinare Unesco Sviluppo Umano e Cultura di Pace dell'Università di Firenze” (Florence, 2011) edited by Paolo Orefice, with the contributions of the work group and the network of national and international partners.
The Chair is the first in this field that Italy has proposed within UNESCO and was set up in 2016 by Nicola Casagli of the Department of Earth Sciences and Fabio Castelli of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Heading the Chair is Paolo Canuti, a former professor of Applied Geology at the University of Florence, and has served as President of the International Consortium on Landslides. The academics of the University involved in this project include Sandro Moretti and Carlo Alberto Garzonio of the Department of Earth Sciences, and Giorgio Federici, Enio Paris and Fabio Castelli of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
The University of Florence has long been involved in research, development and cooperation for the prevention and reduction of hydrogeological risks, also in relation to the protection of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The University has received important awards for these activities, such as the designation of "Center for National Civil Protection" in 2005 and the title of the UN-ISDR Worldwide Center for International Excellence on Landslides, held since 2008.
The research group from which the initiative of the UNESCO Chair was born has in recent years participated in numerous missions to protect cultural assets threatened by hydrogeological hazards in developing countries, including Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Albania, North Korea, Bolivia, Peru (Machu Picchu), Ethiopia, Egypt.
The UNESCO Chair is supported by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (Department of Civil Protection and Italiasicura), the Institute for the Protection of Environmental Protection (ISPRA), the International Consortium on Landslides (ICL), the International Consortium for Disaster Reduction (ICGdR), UNITWIN - landslide risk mitigation network - and the UNESCO Chair on Water Management and Water Culture.
The chair-established to foster the exchange and circulation of knowledge between academia and society at large, lending an international dimension to a university teaching and research program-has as its holder Mauro Agnoletti, professor of Landscape Planning and Landscape and Environment History, at the Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry (DAGRI).
The initiative aims to promote an integrated system of research, training, and documentation on world agricultural heritage landscapes, contributing positively to the strengthening of regional, national, and international expertise in higher education on this topic. The chair's goals also include planning, conservation and enhancement of rural heritage, in line with international sustainable development goals.