The three week programme in Global Environmental Issues is delivered through varied learning sessions as follows:
At the start of the programme students will be introduced to specific environmental topics, of which they will select one to undertake their research on and then, at the end of the three weeks, each student will complete a short assessed presentation (10-15 minutes) on an aspect of the topic / research that they found interesting.
To help prepare for the presentation, there will be three additional sessions:
a) effective presentation skills
b) information searching and library skills
c) using data to support an argument / conclusion.
Designing a research question
This session will focus on the process of research, how experiments are planned (field or lab-scale), how much data is needed to be statistically relevant, how the samples collected could be analysed and how to set a hypothesis.
Field research skills I
This session will focus on some key skills for field research, focussing on soil and vegetation sampling. It will also teach observational skills and keeping of a lab notebook (including an e-notebook). Samples can be collected for further analysis in the lab also.
Field research skills II
This session will build on the first session but will focus on aquatic measurements, such as water quality, presence of specific pollutants, and analysis of invertebrates. Samples can be collected for further analysis in the lab also.
Lab research skills I
This session will focus on laboratory measurements, such as determination of the concentration of different pollutants, their rate of degradation, and their modes of degradation (e.g. uv light, bacterial etc.). This session will prepare students for work with environmental modelling later in the programme.
Lab research skills II
This session will also focus on looking at impacts of pollutants on key indicator organisms, including bacteria, algae, and Daphnia (water flea). Concepts such as dose-response, acute versus chronic exposure, adaption and resistance etc. will be considered.
Visit to our research forest – BIFoR
This day trip will give insights into the role of forest ecosystems in mitigating climate change, as well as the range of essential services they provide beyond wood. As part of the visit to the BIFoR forest, students will undertake a number of research activities, such as mapping the lichen distribution in control versus elevated CO2 groups, or assessing the tree health or biodiversity, again through comparison of the control versus elevated CO2 groups.
Students will visit research groups to be introduced to the type of environmental science research that takes place, meet University of Birmingham students, see the type of equipment and processes that are used, and have the opportunity to ask questions. Running experiments such as the recirculating stream mesocosms and BIFoR FACE experiment will also be introduced. Students will present back what they have seen / learned to peers.
Postgraduate Programme Taster
This session will be a brief introduction the postgraduate programmes that take place in the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, and will give students the opportunity to see and listen to the type of lectures they might receive if they registered for a postgraduate degree.
Learning from mapping & modelling
This day-long session will involve the processing of datasets acquired from the various field courses, and from the BIFoR field visit, and introduction to the use of mapping of datasets (e.g. using ArcGIS) and approaches for modelling of datasets based on time- or spatially resolved datapoints.
Learning from experts
This session will be a series of mini lectures on a variety of topics such as environmental pollution and environmental transformations, sources and sinks for key pollutants, where the University of Birmingham has research strengths. There will also be a short session on the various regulations protecting the environment, such as the bathing and drinking water directives. These expert sessions will be consolidated with summaries and discussion following the presentations.
The learning sessions will be supplemented with excursions and events as part of the wider summer school social programme.
This is a three week programme and is equivalent to an accredited undergraduate course (20 UK credits, 5 US credits, or 10 ECTS). All students will receive a certificate of attendance.
(Please note that the programme plan is subject to confirmation for BISS 2019)