Academic Collaboration for (Building) Capacity in Environmental Studies | ACCES

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Project Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Irma Inashvili

Coordinating Institution: Georgian Technical University

Partner Institution:University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (Dr. Margarita Himmelbauer)

Partner Country: Georgia

Project Duration: 1st of August 2016 – 30th of November 2020

Abstract

New challenges regarding recent climate changes and their tremendous impact on the environment, society and economy need new educational contents and strategies. The capacity building in environmental education is one of the most effective ways to deal with, since it strengthen the overall awareness and knowledge especially of the young generation about existing and upcoming ecological hazards and risks.

With regard to, the Georgian Technical University (GTU) and the Institute of Hydraulics and Rural Water Management (IHLW) at University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) both aspire towards establishing an efficient partnership in research guided education networking, research and services in the field of the environmental engineering studies.

The overall objective of this project is to contribute to the modernisation of the higherenvironmental education in Georgia in line with the environmental and labour market demands and European standards trough establishing a framework for developing innovative and competence-oriented educational programmes of high-quality addressing key issues in environmental engineering. In particular, ACCES focuses on:

  • Strengthening the capacity of the university and the faculty in developing innovative environmental master curricula at GTU based on the latest teaching methods and tools for efficient transfer of knowledge and skills;
  • Strengthening the staff competences trough promoted excellence in innovative teaching, research and innovations;
  • Enhancing gender equality in higher education system through promoted diversity giving equal opportunities for professional qualifications and realization;
  • Establishing an efficient partnership in research guided higher education through dynamic framework, dynamic and open-minded dialogue and exchange of innovative ideas.

The major results comprise development of a new master curriculum in environmental engineering and safety: updating of the master program in water engineering based on the latest research findings; introducing innovative teaching methods and tools; sharing knowledge and experience between GTU and BOKU to gain new views and perspectives, etc.

List of project results

  • Reviewing and updating of the Master program (MP) in Water engineering

The newly updated Anglophone Master program on “Water engineering” aims at preparing of highly competitive specialists by the use of advanced and more appropriate teaching approaches and up-to-date contents that motivates them to be professionals, be aware of the natural water classification and monitoring of water quality, assessment of modern standards, to and to contribute to the social-economic development of the country. Development of updated teaching materials (including lecture notes and lecture powerpoint presentations) for compulsory and elective subjects (15 courses).

  • Development of a new MP on Environmental engineering based on the latest research findings

To develop a new curriculum, the project team continually met and consulted with representatives of interested organizations, the scientific community and experts in the specific research fields. For the implementation, first of all statistical and documentary materials were processed, which allowed us to deepen in and to generate contents matching the needs and expectations. Development of teaching materials (including lecture notes and lecture powerpoint presentations) for compulsory and elective subjects (27 courses).

  • Monograph entitled "Water Resources Regulation in Agriculture" (in English Language; 115 pp.) for the new Master Program in "Environmental Engineering" was developed and submitted for publication to the Publishing House of the Georgian Technical University.
  • Textbook entitled "Water Resources Monitoring" (in Georgian Language; 614 pp.) for use in the new Master Program in "Environmental Engineering" was developed.
  • Textbook entitled "Environmental Engineering" (in Georgian Language; 260 pp.) for use in the new Master Program in "Environmental Engineering" was developed.
  • English lecture courses were designed and Teaching Materials for the new Master programme "Environmental Engineering" were developed.
  • Trainings of the academic staff on using innovative teaching methods were completed, support and materials provided.
  • Innovative teaching methods and tools adjusted to the new forms of study were implemented, training was provided with special attention on gender diversity aspects in higher education.
  • Knowledge and experience between teachers and students at the GTU and the BOKU was shared by visits, round tables, field trips and workshops, and via internet platforms.
  • Quality assurance concerning accreditation was revised, feedbacks of students, employers and stakeholders of the new environmental master programs collected and analysed (see below).

Impact and sustainability

In order to support the professional development of the academic staff, a number of activities were planned and implemented not only at the university but also national and international levels during the project implementation period, promoting knowledge and good practice, building a strong quality assurance system and uniform visions across specific topical issues. In terms of professional development, a number of activities were implemented within the project. Active work was carried out with the staff implementing educational programs (both individually and in the format of working groups) to increase their level of involvement in quality assurance issues (academic staff participated in collegial evaluation of educational programs, accreditation simulation processes), to increase responsibility and autonomy.

During the project implementation, with the active participation of the University Quality Assurance Service and the academic staff, the questionnaires of the students' satisfaction with the service and the survey of the masters / doctoral students were revised and updated. The refinement of the questionnaire showed more realistically the positive aspects of the faculty services and ongoing processes compared to previous years, as well as the issues of improvement, which additionally allows for proper planning of ongoing faculty processes, updating and aligning teaching process regulations and procedures.

According to the results concerning the updated and the newly developed Master Programs, we prepare environmental engineers and water resources specialists which are well informed and trained, competitive, performance-oriented, focused on the practical and operational activities. These professionals contribute to the social-economic development; able to design, construct and exploitive water resources management systems using modern computer programs under consideration of risk–factors in the regulatory processes; aware of the natural water classification and monitoring of water quality, assessment of modern standards.

The knowledge acquired by the graduates supports their successful work in water supply and wastewater systems companies, industrial and commercial enterprises, civil organizations, government agencies, consulting firms and agencies, energy companies, in corresponding, Ministries and their affiliated agencies; Supervision and Architecture Service of municipality; construction agencies, municipal utility services, water supply agencies, regional, municipal and national sewerage organizations and other organizations and educational organizations.