Second International Workshop Education in Geoparks and Protected Areas

Short Report :

The Second International Workshop of European H2020 GEOPARK Project took place from 7 to 9 November 2017 in Paris. The objective of Second International Workshop is to strengthen the educational programme and capacity building (students and professionals) in geoparksrelated subjects by taking into account local features and issues as a systemic approach (heritage, education, territory, geology, tourism, etc.).
Chaired by Professor Yves Girault from National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) in Paris, this International Workshop questions the links between geoparks and geotourism development, with special focus on education. It integrates the one-week training session in Paris, in order to concretize the transfer of knowledge and expertise and also to situate students in the center of actual issues in the field of Geopark on a wider stage.
On the whole of the three days 20 presentations were given by researchers and practitioners in fields of education, parks, museums or other geopark related subjects. On average 30 students (including 6 doctoral students) and about fifteen students of master museology, professionals and researchers participated the workshop.
The first day was devoted to presentations by research professors from a wide variety of backgrounds: Prof. Theresa G. Coble. (College of Education, University of Missouri – St. Louis), Prof. Dongying Wei. (Associate professor of School of Geography, Beijing Normal University), Prof. Jose Luis Palacio-Prieto (Senior Researcher at the Institute of Geography, UNAM, Mexique), Dr. Luis Alcala (Director of the Teruel-Dinópolis Paleontological Foundation, Spain), Hugues de Varine (Former Director of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and international consultant in local development and community action); François Mairesse (Professor of museology and cultural economics at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University (Paris III)  and President of the International Committee for Museology of ICOM (ICOFOM)). With their diverse speeches, our International Workshop tries to specify the evolution of heritage development practices in geoparks and protected sites, while setting a theoretical framework that takes into account the cultural, sociological and economic aspects.

A fieldwork was designed on the Day 2 for two geological walks within the city of Paris to explore the urban geological heritage. Walkers are invited to learn the cohabitation between the walls of two stories, that of human and of Earth. For our International Workshop, we selected two walks: one at the business district of la Défense in the west of Paris, guided by Prof. François Baudin from University of Pierre Marie Curie; and the other in the fifth arrondisment at the centre of Paris, guided by Grégoire Egoroff from MNHN. This two geological walks are part of geo-tour collection co-published by the Geological Society of France and the National Museum of Natural History¹. The objective of this collection is to reveal the history of a city (Paris in our case) via the description of the origins and the uses of the stones for the buildings, the monuments and the cobblestones of the alleys. Completing the description step by step of the itinerary, in the guide of anecdotes and details show the walker the city in a new light.

During the third day we proposed theoretical presentations on the teaching of geology, in the context of field trips. Denise Orange Ravachol (professor from University of Lille 3) proposed some benchmarks to think the geological acculturation of students by analyzing some difficulties that may encounter learners who carry out work in the field. In doing so, she opened perspectives on the interests of different “terrains” to which the teachers refer, including Geoparks. Her lecture was extended by the presentation of François Dessart (PhD candidate from University of Lyon), who analysed how a mediator on geological sites tells geological stories by reconstructing the events that are at the origin of the landscapes in geopark. He showed how this “problematizing” approach could construct geological history not as a fixed chronology of past geological phenomena, but as an articulated and questioned set of necessary and contingent events. Cindy Lebat (PhD candidate from Sorbonne Nouvelle University – Paris 3) showed us how reception of people with disabilities within protected areas are rooted in a more global developments in the consideration and treatment of disability in our contemporary societies. She also pointed out the large deficit of facilities within geoparks. Yi Du & Catalina Gonzalez-Tejada (PhD candidates from National Museum of National History) introduced the audience to the ambivalent reception of “geotourism” within the geopark community. They showed an interesting prism, through which conceptions of geotourism by different actors (managers, scientists) reveal divergent views of heritage status and interpretation within the territories concerned. Last speaker of the section, Yanique Ekobevet Allogo (PhD candidate from Aix Marseille University) formulated the hypothesis that territories labeled Unesco-Geopark emerge a new form of symbolic violence. She illustrated her hypothesis by presenting the characteristics of this new form of symbolic violence in Dignes Geopark (France) and M’Goun Geopark (Morocco). Joan Poch Serra (professor of Autonomous University of Barcelona) presented the Intensive Course on Geoparks (Lesvos Island, Greece). This section were complemented by two presentations by geoparks professionals. Guillem Puras (project coordinator of Tremp-Montsec Geopark project) presented the basics of the educational program of this aspiring geopark, which is focused on deploying a general agreed leitmotiv: “The last dinosaurs of Europe”. Finally Jean Luc Desbois (president of the French National Committee of UNESCO Global Geoparks, director of the Regional Natural Park and UNESCO Global Geopark Bauges Massif) explored various approaches of territory education, from classical education to experiential awareness based on initiatives carried out within French Geoparks.

¹ This collection is directed by Patrick de Wever, Professor at the National Museum of Natural History and a member of the
GEOPARK program.


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