On 13 September 2010, 32 young and bright students from the Asia-Pacific, the Americas, and Africa, came to our doorstep, here at UNU-ISP Tokyo, to begin their 2-week lectures on:
1. Science, Impacts and Vulnerabilities
2. Approaches to Adaptation
Followed by GIS and downscaling training in the 3rd week. We had specialists from the ESRI corporation, UNESCO's IHE and UNU's own staff who provided practical group & one-to-one training on the GIS software and downscaling models.
Many of the graduate students' backgrounds ranged from the physical sciences (Hydrological and civil engineering, atmospheric sciences, forestry, ecology, agriculture etc) and the social sciences (community development, international relations, gender, etc). Their background and level of maturity and experience made for excellent discussions, both in class and outside of class.
Days were long and intensive, but all seemed to enjoy what they learnt, and the close interactions with their lecturers and friendships with each other. Feedback received from the students showed that overall, they really liked the sessions on the climate change science, the latest scientific advancements in the development of global climate change scenarios (new generation of IPCC scenarios), the uncertainties that remain in CC scenario and impacts modelling, and the practical parts: group activities, GIS training on watershed management and food security, and climate modelling.
As part of their assessments, students were asked to complete:
1. Group presentations on:
[Week 1] Scenario building exercise - each group to select an IPCC scenario type and describe the impacts for a target area (region, country, sector)
[Week 2] Based on the same target area and scenario (or a new one), design suitable adaptation strategies that take into account community-based approaches.
After each group presentation, another group was asked to respond with questions and comments.
2. Final exam (multiple choice and short answer questions) on climate change science, uncertainties, risk assessments, and adaptation planning.
3. Short essay-type research proposals:
[Week 1] develop a 1,000 - 1,500 word research proposal to address a climate change issue of their choice, based on what their existing research in their home institution, or a work experience
[Week 2] develop a 2,500 - 3,000 word adaptation strategy or project plan to a climate change issue of their choice (either based on their proposal in Week 1, or a new one). They were asked to include a detailed development, methodology and implementation process, with specific emphasis on incorporating bottom-up community-based approaches.
At the closing & graduation ceremony, some students were asked to present their group and indvidual research work, as well as give a short speech on behalf of the student body. It was a great 3 weeks, so thank you again to all who participated! I hope you will keep in touch with each other, as you all progress in your future careers as climate change experts.
From some of the students:
"I have acquired great knowledge from this course about how to design, Implement and assess the projects. The role-playing exercise carried out by Professor Darmanto was very interesting. I felt that it was a good way to learn. I come from the science background."
"My background is biodiversity and forest resources. The lectures and the case studies provided by professors were very helpful. I hope that I can use the materials for my research."
"I would like to thank all my friends. I had an incredible experience with friends. I am a biologist and so interested in biodiversity. I was in a way outlier. I feel that the more focus during the course was on climate change impact on humans, not overall biodiversity. However, I enjoyed the class overall."
"I enjoyed the two weeks. First week was interesting because we covered climate science. Second week focused on case studies, implementation strategies, community involvement . The area I would like to be covered more is how we can bring about behavioral change in peoples life."
"It has been great opportunity to attend this course. I am from social science background. I have been practicing management in local levels. The group work allowed us to understand about the problems and cases in many countries. However, time was very short and I was unable to digest all the knowledge learned in the class. I am yet to figure out how I will develop adaptation strategies in the area I am working. Overall, the class was good and I learnt a lot from it."
- "It was a lot of learning during the first week. We talked about scientific part and it was important part for me. Second week which focused on adaptation was related with my background and thus less significant to me. First week helped me understand the basics of climate system."
Overall, the 'Building Resilience to Climate Change' postgraduate courses were a success!Thanks to all CECAR members, faculty, students, and UNU staff who worked hard for many months to make it successful.
Special Acknowledgements (please click to view)
by Alva Lim 4 November 2010