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How to lift students 10,000 meter up above ground

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Author list: Danielski, Itai
Publication year: 2018

Abstract

Environment problems are complex and require a system integrated approach, which involves different time scales and spatial resolution. Yet, many parts of the world are facing similar environmental challenges. Therefore, mankind needs to share knowledge and work together across physical borders, language barriers, and cultures differences.

In our International Masters programme in Ecotechnology and Sustainable Development in Mid-Sweden University, we use new pedagogical technologies to bring students from different nations and cultures together and reinforce teamwork. All courses in the program are in English and students can choose to be present in the classroom or to stream lectures online in real-time. Via special software, teachers are able to communicate both with classroom and distance students simultaneously. This provides flexibility to access graduate level courses in environmental science from anywhere in the world.

Still, we aim to unify the students as one group. To achieve that, all students are invited to a joint activity in a mountain area nearby the university for one week. There, they are performing different field measurements, which help them to know each other and develop a group feeling. Group assignments are red thread throughout the program. It enhances student communication and exchange of information from different parts of the world.

The overall aim of the master programme is to “lift” the students 10.000 meter up above ground. From that height they can see forests, water systems, cities and societies and not individual trees, streams, buildings or people. Only then they can understand how environmental issues are related and could be analyzed. This is achieved by introducing a variety of advanced system modelling tools, policy instruments, impact strategies, and communication skills. After graduation, the students are able to assist policy makers to resolve a variety of integrated environmental issues with ecological, social, cultural and economic perspectives.


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