In the context of the Festival of Sustainable Development 2023, the online event “Dancing on the volcano”. Education for sustainable development in a German-Italian perspective took place on 9th May. The meeting is part of the series of German-Italian Dialogues for sustainable development promoted by the platea2030, the Office for Italian-German dialogue and FUTURAnetwork, in collaboration with the Federation of German-Italian Associations in Germany and the Oli.Omaggio alla lingua italiana initiative.
DisComPoSE was chosen as an innovative project on the theme of “volcanism” to present new methods of research and teaching, as well as highlighting the importance of education in spreading the culture of sustainability.
The P.I. of the project was invited to discuss with experts and representatives of the territory issues related to the constant threat of Vesuvius to the daily life of the people who live in the surrounding area, the effects on the environment, agriculture and tourism.
Domenico Cecere explained the reasons why scholars of history, philology, history of language and anthropology are interested in natural disasters and illustrated the contribution that the humanities and social sciences can make to the study of natural phenomena, their effects and, where appropriate, their mitigation.
The increased awareness of global warming and climate change gives us sufficient reasons to insist on the importance of knowing the historical dimension of these phenomena to understand their evolution in the present and to plan for the future.
Whoever studies the past, and in particular the early modern age, has the good fortune to be faced with an explosion of testimonies and stories, but also poems, songs, sermons, prayers and scientific reports, attempting to reconstruct and explain these calamitous events.
The DisComPoSE group searches for these texts in archives and libraries all over Europe, because they allow us to understand how the societies of the past have been affected by natural disasters, how they have interpreted and reworked them (from a symbolic, religious and artistic point of view), what responses they have devised – both from a technical- architectural and socio-political point of view – to manage the emergency, mitigate any damage and defend themselves against future disasters.
From the analysis of these sources there emerges the image of societies that, although technically less equipped than ours, sometimes turn out to be surprisingly well prepared to face and manage uncertainty, risk and emergency because they often kept, cultivated and transmitted the memory of traumatic events.
This capacity of the societies of the past contrasts with the insufficient, superficial or purely occasional attention to the issues of environmental risk and its prevention in the current public debate. In fact, every new emergency is faced with two attitudes: on the one hand, fatalism and, on the other, the propensity to adopt emergency solutions.
In this sense, the preservation and elaboration of the memories of past calamities can play a fundamental role because they help to overcome the logic of exceptionality and to increase the awareness that certain risks are inherent in a territory, and that the societies and institutions that inhabit this area must deal with them in order to reduce their vulnerability and their exposure to these risks.