iEarth chosen as Centre of Excellence in Education

iEarth becomes one of the Norwegian Centres of Excellence in Education. The University of Bergen now hosts two of the prestigious centres that focus on innovative and forward-looking education.



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The Centre for Integrated Geosciences Education (iEarth) was awarded the Centre of Excellence in Education (SFU) on December 12. iEarth is a national collaborative project led by the University of Bergen and aims to develop new forms of teaching in the Geosciences at the University of Oslo, the University of Tromsø, the University of Bergen and the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS).

It is the Directorate for Internationalization and Quality Development in Higher Education (DIKU) that awards the status. The status as SFU is awarded to environments that can already show excellent quality and innovative practice in education, and which have good plans for further development and innovation.

iEarth becomes one of four new centres. 21 different centres applied for the status. Following the allocation of four new centres, 12 academic communities have been awarded SFU status.

Will change education

Geoscience education is a cornerstone of Norwegian society, rooted in Norway's energy and resource-based industry and a key to social and environmental safety. Yet, geoscience is changing, and because of climate change, a changing energy landscape and resource utilization, we clearly see the dependence between our society and our planet.

Through iEarth, we are putting together a national consortium with a broad international network to change Geoscience education in Norway. We want to promote a student-focused and innovative learning environment for tomorrow's Geoscience students to meet complex societal challenges and opportunities.

“This is a unique opportunity to make a boost for the geosphere at a time when our expertise is needed in ever-new areas. We have something as rare as a national consortium, which means that we can really make a difference both nationally and internationally,” says Jostein Bakke, head of the iEarth consortium.

Students deserve high-quality teaching

“We need to have more environments that take the lead in developing varied, high-quality teaching, because all students deserve it. Society and working life need candidates with the right expertise from universities and colleges. Therefore, it is gratifying that we now have several centres for excellent education in place,” said Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms. Iselin Nybø (Lib.), in a press release from DIKU.

The centres have a particular responsibility for disseminating knowledge and practices that lead to increased quality in higher education, both inside and outside their own institution.

Students are the future

“Our climate scientists say that humanity will face climate change that has never before been experienced by any human being. With everything that comes with unpredictable natural conditions, increased collapse risk and more extreme weather, our knowledge will be the foremost tool for meeting these challenges. Our students are the future and therefore we must ensure that they have the knowledge needed to force through the necessary societal change,” says the Rector of the University of Bergen, Dag Rune Olsen.

The Rector is proud of iEarth’s achievement.

“ An excellent education with innovation focus, innovative thinking about practice, teaching methods where students are at the centre - this is one of the most important things we do at UiB,” says Dag Rune Olsen.

There are now two educational environments with SFU status at UiB. bioCEED received the status in 2013.

Concrete plans

The SFU grant ensures iEarth NOK 83 million from both the institutions and DIKU, spread over 5 years. The money will ensure a solid teaching environment at the four institutions, including the appointment of an Education Chair at each institution responsible for the implementation and follow-up of iEarth projects.

New PhD and postdoctoral positions will also be hired at each institution. This will be the basis for a Nordic Research School in Geoscience didactics. In addition to various settings, an internal project pool will be set up where both students and staff with good ideas within educational development can apply for funding. The goal is to develop a national environment for geoscientific teaching and a lasting national cultural change that equates teaching in higher education with research.