Across Nature and Culture: the city of Florence as a case study for natural-cultural conservation and preservation issues

General Overview

Amidst the surge of urbanisation and the decline of biodiversity, the future of natural heritage hinges on the ability of urban dwellers to maintain a connection with nature. In cities, parks and gardens often stand as the sole nature experiences. Concurrently, the conservation of historic and artistic heritage presents challenges, as green spaces coexist with tangible and intangible cultural treasures.

This project delves into the integration of natural and cultural heritage in Anthropocene cities, focusing on the challenges faced and solutions needed.

Proposed Project and Summer School

The proposed project introduces a rotating field study summer school, taking place in Florence from 4 to 8 September 2023. Florence, a European city with rich artistic-historic and natural heritage, becomes a prototype for designing a bio-culturally sustainable city model. Four EUniWell member universities collaborate on this project:

  • University of Florence (Lead and Coordination): Focus on performative literature, philosophy, and conservation biology.
  • Nantes Université (Partner): Focus on Environmental Humanities, city dynamics, urban spaces, and tourism.
  • Linnaeus University (Växjö) (Partner): Emphasis on media, arts, and ecological emergencies.
  • University of Cologne (Partner): Focus on Anthropology and Environmental Humanities.

Purpose and Significance

The project addresses a critical gap in research on the role of the city in the Anthropocene in terms of biocultural preservation. The interdisciplinary approach, involving scholars from various fields, aligns with EUniWell’s concerns, emphasising innovative responses to environmental crises, teacher education, and sustainability in urban settings.

Implementation Method and Timeline

The project adopts a strongly interdisciplinary approach, involving scholars from biological conservation, tourism sciences, literature, philosophy, anthropology, design, and urban studies. The timeline is as follow:

  • Launch of the project: End of June 2023.
  • Key Event: Summer School from 4 to 8 September 2023.
  • Closing Date: March 2024.

Expected Outcomes

The primary goal is to bridge theory and practice, fostering dialogue between teachers, students, universities, and local communities within the context of the Anthropocene city. The anticipated outcome is the collaborative proposal of a replicable model for a European bio-culturally sustainable city, using Florence as a foundational case study.


Mariagrazia Portera (University of Florence)