Summer School 2005

Summer School 2005, Lund University, Sweden.

The theme of the course was Sustainable Development of Global Society and was organised by four units at Lund University: Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Lund University’s Centre for Geographical Information Systems (GIS Centre) and the Department of Health Sciences/Division of Social Medicine and Global Health.

Before arriving at the Summer School, students completed a pre-course assignment, designed to give all participants the same background information, making use of Lund University’s virtual classroom, LUVIT. Students as well as teachers were able to log on LUVIT and it was used as a communication channel and working platform throughout the course.

The pre-course asked the students to reflect upon their personal and their nation’s policies, attitudes and impacts on climate change through studying national trends in health and development and gave a good introduction to the topics and concepts that studied in the Summer School with presentations of the initial assignments the starting point for group discussions on the first day.

The Summer School comprised two weeks of study, lectures, group work and discussions, providing both a broad review of concepts and deeper knowledge of research at the same time and allowing those with a background in sustainability studies to expand their ideas further. Participants from different educational and national backgrounds created some excellent forums for discussions and interaction between students and staff alike. While the first week was mainly built around lectures and some lively ensuing discussions, project work was the focus during the second week of the course.

The aim of the project work was to identify and describe different environmental and health problems associated with the sectors emitting green house gases and then to discuss solutions and strategies on how to address these problems at a global level, all the while benefiting from intercultural and trans-disciplinary communication.

Working with peers from different nations and disciplines created a forum for cross-cultural work and interdisciplinary communication and ideas, in which fruitful discussions and an open atmosphere was established and was a particular strength of the Summer School. This was evident within both student and tutor groups and was a welcome opportunity for speaking and listening whilst developing closer relations. The tutors took on a number of roles during the course of the Summer School. As well as encouraging the students, offering a professional perspective and acting as a mentor or facilitator, they also had the opportunity to learn from and discuss matters with other experts. They had the opportunity to engage in discussions around educational issues related to sustainable development, aimed at collecting new ideas and concrete examples of how to improve teaching with a sustainability perspective.

Seminars addressed systems analysis as a learning tool, cognitive development, and how to make a university sustainable. Besides this special programme, the tutors were involved in the students’ project work and the student presentations of their assignments, acting as moderators in the final discussions. Alex Hopkinson from the University of Edinburgh, who subsequently graduated with an honours degree in Psychology, neatly summed up the Summer School experience: “I had a great time in Lund. The course was interesting, the social activities were well organised and it was fantastic to meet so many students from all over the world who were interested in sustainability… I even think going to the summer school in Lund might have helped me to get the job I have now … so that’s an excellent outcome for me!”