Universitat de Vic (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 151-160
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
The project Miquel Martí i Pol, developed at the Universitat de Vic, integrates education, research and citizenship. The poet and master Miquel Marti i Pol told us: “Beauty is your heritage, but you prefer the sad and routine laziness of a carton box... Let me say that it´s time to love, it´s time to believe in miracles, some day there will be flowers in the garden and wind in trees... Those, who for many years lived far away from town, will be called to return.” These words inspired the decision to develop the Miquel Marti i Pol project: to transform an abandoned and sad space into a space of beauty, the garden. The garden was created jointly by occupational therapy students at the University of Vic and those who for many years have lived far away from town in situations of social exclusion, with mental health, poverty and immigration survivors.

The project includes the following dimensions:

1.1. Educational
The project is confronting the social and the ecological crisis.
At a social level the students work together with people, surviving exclusion, by being involved in the process of learning, grounded on reality, developing a work rehabilitation project. The project is inspired by Service-Learning educational philosophy.
At an ecological level we were told by Ann Coffey: "There cannot be a better place than our educational centers to begin the greater task of the Humanity, to re-connect with our natural world". The students have understood the connection between human occupation and the ecological crisis.

1.2. Research
This project has generated new knowledge about the human being as occupational being, the therapeutic impact of gardening, the potential of meaningful occupation to the creation of more inclusive communities and the promotion of citizenship, and the political art of partnership. A Bachelor for advanced studies (Diploma de Estudios Avanzados, DEA) has been developed, and now a Philosophical Doctorate study is being developed, based on this experience.

1.3. Social responsibility of the university: The construction of inclusive communities
As Dewey said, University must be a school of citizenship and democracy. This project is an example of the social responsibility of the university. The project has the objective of raising public awareness about the potential of these formerly socially excluded persons, breaking prejudices and stigmatic attitudes through their acquisition of worker’s role: the gardeners’ work has given a garden for the community. We believe that the garden produces a powerful message that has been widely spread through the mass media (TV, radio, newspapers, and web-sites) which has helped the local community to understand that these formerly excluded people are citizens. We prosecute this goal at the time we are educating ecological and socially responsible citizens.

A European project
The project has been related to the development of 3 Intensive Courses (Turkey, Bulgaria and Latvia), with 7 European partners, funded by the European Union. Currently, it is a part of the project Competences for Poverty Reduction, with 14 European partners, whose goal is to link the social and the health fields to combat poverty in Europe.