iEarth want to create a national competence centre for earth system education, to shape the future of Norwegian earth science education to best meet societal requirements and develop best practices for teaching and evaluation. The centre includes the University of Oslo, University of Tromsø, University of Bergen and UNIS, together aiming to achieve the title as a Centre for Excellence in Education in 2019.
We are continuously facing new challenges in need of skilled Earth scientists. How to secure the infrastructure and homes from the next flooding event? How can we produce enough energy for the community? What is the best way to manage our environment? How to understand the global climatic changes we observe today? The list continues.
To meet these challenges, high demands awaits the new Earth scientist and the universities are responsible to give them the necessary competence. iEarth want to connect excellence in research to excellence in student-active learning by creating a national competence centre for Earth System Science education (ESS). Focusing on Earth systems, we combine the science of systems with Earth science considering the interactions between the Earth’s “spheres” – atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, pedosphere, biosphere and the magnetosphere – as well as the impact of human societies on these components.
The vision of iEarth is to promote an engaging, innovative learning environment to educate the next generation of Earth scientists, who must be skilled enough to tackle the twenty-first century’s societal challenges, through research-based student-active learning and reality based practicals at a national level with a strong international collaboration.
To achieve our vision, iEarth has decided upon five areas of development:
- Learning how to learn: develop and improve academic training, mapping of curriculum, and introducing new teaching methodology.
- Shaping the future: focusing on the development of a transparent integrated Earth System Science curriculum at UiB, UiT, UiO and UNIS, and tailoring education to societal challenges involving geohazards, resources, energy, environment and climate.
- Best practice – fostering teaching excellence: identify, foster and exchange best practice through establishing a communication platform (virtual competence centre) that will amongst other be used to spread excellence through workshops, improve pedagogic competence through mentoring programmes, implement performance-based salary increments and fund course-development fellowships.
- Fieldwork: Implementation and use of new technology in education and work on an integration of the field- and classroom activities through continuous use of a digital platform throughout the curriculum.
- Alumni and outreach: development of an alumni network to secure contact between alumni and the institution/students, the establishment of internships to give the student necessary experience, and the establishment of contact to the industry to secure relevant connections.
iEarth is a national network with cooperation between the Department of Earth Science at the University of Bergen, the Department of Geoscience at the University of Oslo, the Department of Geology at the University of Tromsø – the Artic University of Norway, and the Department of Artic Geology at the University Centre in Svalbard. In addition, international partners like the Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development at UMass Amherst, US, are involved.
iEarth are working on achieving the title as a Centre for Excellence in Higher Education and application will be sent spring 2019.