Laboratory for the Analysis of Places, Landscapes and European Countryside
Laplec - Service of rural geography from the University of Liège

Presentation of the Laboratory

Created in 2007, the Laboratory for the Analysis of Places, Landscapes and European Countryside (Laplec) is anchored in the long tradition of the studies and research in rural geography at the University of Liège (Charles Christians, Frans Dussart, Omer Tulippe). It develops a multiple approach of the rural spaces being interested at the same time in the landscapes, the places and the countryside. Since 2017, the Laplec is member of the interdisciplinary research center SPHERES to develop research on sustainable regional devlopment. 

The landscape is the privileged starting point of the Laplec to apprehend the countryside, in particular the description and the study of the landscape structure, then research of the subjacent systems which put pressure both on the structure and on the local landscape system. The landscape is also the calling card of a territory and an indicator of its management and regional planning.

The study of the places including especially their functions, their significances, their values and their appreciations allows the researcher and the territorial mediator to give direction and to apprehend the multitude of definitions and appropriations of places which compose the territory. Laplec proposes together with actors and local populations reflections and action plans for publics spaces like public places.

The countryside is approached by the analysis of the ways of living diversity based on the fact that nowadays countryside are lived and perceived of varied manners from the point of view of mobilities, as well as local social networks and environmental expectations. The farming and forestry deal with new expectations but also of new competitions for soils, water, air and equipment. A territorial diagnosis with the help of the methods of the landscape analysis, the space analysis, the territorial sensitivities and of the work with and for the territorial actors is a strong basis for a sustainable development project of the countryside which they are suburban, multifunctional, precarious or mainly agricultural.

Beyond the development of an important methodological pattern, the repeated observations of different fields is an important component of the Laplec. When many research units specialize in the analysis of a regional, national or continental reality, the ambition of the Laplec is to know and to compare several regional realities in order to test the generalization of methodologies and to locate innovative practices or emerging dynamics. The general method is the use of laboratory space: a restricted space whose researcher finely knows the geography, the history and the representations, projects and values of the inhabitants. In this space, the researcher analyzes the dynamics thanks to successive visits and studies. Information – landscape transects, pictures, countings, statistics, investigations, focus group, life histories – is systematically catalogued and questioned to draw a new research question and to choose methodological choices. At present, four laboratories spaces are followed: Vielsalm (Ardenne forests, since 1997), Imlil (High Atlas, since 2000), Komen (Kras, since 2001), Labico (Latium, since 2003), Fundu Moldovei (Bucovina, since 2017)

In addition, the active participation throuh networks of international researchers (IGU Commission on The Sustainability of Rural Systems, la Commission de Géographie Rurale du Comité National Français, European Network of Territorial Intelligence, Permanent European Conference for the Study of Rural Landscape, Research Centre on Territorial, Urban and Rural Sciences) makes it possible to make rich knowledge and comparisons.

The Laplec is also a training centre for research in rural geography. It proposes courses of Graduates and Master degree for students in geographical sciences, geomatics, climatology, historical sciences, languages and literatures, population, information and communication, and anthropology. It organizes each year the “Rural world and landscape” seminar proposed for the PhD Students of the French-speaking Community of Belgium. It accommodates PhD Students for short stays, co-tutelles or to carry out their doctoral research there.




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