N. De Luca1, T. Jekel2, N. Ferber2

1Centro Studi ed Iniziative Europeo - CESIE (ITALY)
2Paris Lodron University of Salzburg (AUSTRIA)
This paper focuses on the benefits offered by “Education for Spatial Citizenship” (SPACIT), an EU-funded project which introduces a new learning environment for in-service and pre-service teachers, designed to face the lack of mainstream citizenship education able to support initiatives of active participation in society through the mature appropriation and shaping of space, be it local, national, European or international.

The increasing complexity of the information-based society requires citizens to be equipped with multidimensional knowledge and skills that enable them to play an active role in society. This approach is endorsed by the Council of Europe through Education for Democratic Citizenship.1 In addition to the traditional means of political participation, today’s youth are potentially able to become more actively engaged in decision-making processes through new technologies. However, even the so-called “digital natives” will benefit from guidance concerning the potentials of digital geospatial technologies for communication and political engagement, as well as the pitfalls of these same technologies (e.g. monitoring citizens). ‘Spatial Citizens’ have a sound set of competences to use, evaluate and reflect on geomedia technology, and to communicate and participate through geomedia (e.g. digital maps, geobrowsers, geoinformation in social networks).

The partnership of the SPACIT project, co-funded by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme, Comenius Priority 2, provides training and educational resources in line with this aim. Building on the concept of Spatial Citizenship,2 SPACIT promotes the use of geomedia and geotechnologies in schooling and in everyday life, encouraging spatial awareness as a basis for participation in collective decision-making. Spatial Citizenship is about “learning how to navigate this world in respect to the physical world, the meanings attached to physical objects and environment, and the power relations involved in the production of meaning”.3

SPACIT is a promising enterprise to foster active Spatial Citizenship in and beyond the classroom, as confirmed by the international experts team of the YOURopa project, who selected “Education for Spatial Citizenship” as good practice in Active European Citizenship in 2013, on the grounds that it promotes and develops learning and skills for active engagement in society.4

Through the course, to be piloted in 2014 in Romania, teachers
(a) understand the links between citizens, space and society,
(b) explore and reflect on the power of geo-media in today’s society,
(c) learn about the pivotal role of digital geospatial technologies for citizenship and democratic participation.

Following an introduction on the concept of Spatial Citizenship, the authors of this paper review the elements of the interdisciplinary blended-learning SPACIT course, by analyzing its competence model, learning outcomes and objectives, and reflects on its potential contribution to citizenship education.

[1] Council of Europe (2010). Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights. Appendix to Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)7.
[2] Gryl, I., Jekel, T. (2012), Re-centering GI in secondary education: Towards a spatial
citizenship approach. Cartographica, 47 (1), 18-28.
[3] Gryl, I., Jekel, T., Donert, K. (2010). GI and Spatial Citizenship, in T. Jekel, K. Donert, A. Koller (Eds.) Learning with GeoInformation. Berlin: Wichman Verlag.
[4] E.N.T.E.R. (2013). Focus Europe, September 2013.