Development of an Environmental and Resources Engineering Education Framework

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1 Development of an Environmental and Resources Engineering Education Framework Enrica Caporali 1 Associate Professor Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Firenze Firenze, Italy Atanasko Tuneski Full Professor Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University Skopje 1000, FYR Macedonia Claudio Borri Full Professor Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Firenze Firenze, Italy Conference Topic: Curriculum Development Keywords: e-learning, presence learning, distance learning. INTRODUCTION Higher education plays a role of paramount importance in the development of modern societies, enhancing social, cultural and economic development for a sustainable growth, environment respectful. Citizens are required to be active, driven by ethical values as well as experts for a sustainable development, based, as relevant key factors, on environment protection and natural resources enhancement. In this framework, the European Commission promotes the TEMPUS Trans European Mobility Programme for University Studies action. Curricula harmonization and lifelong learning programme development in higher education are among the focused aspects of the TEMPUS action, since 1990 [1]. Higher education includes teaching, research and social services activities of universities, and refers to a level of education provided by universities, colleges, institutes of technology awarding academic degrees or professional certifications [2],[3]. In the context of curricula harmonization takes its place the here described experience of TEMPUS Joint Project DEREL - Development of Environment and Resources Engineering Learning [4], dedicated to the development of a new, up-to-date, postgraduate curriculum in Environment and Resources Engineering at the Ss Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, FYR of Macedonia, University of Novi Sad, Serbia and Polytechnic University of Tirana, Albania, based on the European Credit Transfer System and in accordance with the Bologna 1 Corresponding Author E. Caporali,

2 Process, following the criteria and conditions for setting up a Joint Postgraduate Degree. Furthermore, in the specific framework of lifelong learning, the DEREL project will implement a sustainable network intended at offering lifelong learning seminars on environment and resources engineering at the DEREL Partner Countries, strengthening the links in the knowledge triangle: environment education innovation research, with participation of postgraduate students, public services, enterprises and NGO's. Since 1950, article 2 of the 1 st protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights [5] obliges all signatory parties to guarantee the right to education. The United Nations' International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 [http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law] guarantees this right under its article 13, which recognizes the right of everyone to free education to be directed towards "the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity", and enabling all persons to participate effectively in society. Education is seen both as a human right and as "an indispensable means of realizing other human rights". The EHEA - European Higher Education Area [http://www.ehea.info] is the objective of the Bologna Process [2], devoted, since 1999, to create more comparable, compatible and coherent education systems throughout Europe, based, among others, on the European Credit Transfer System ECTS [6]. From 1999 to 2010, all the efforts of the Bologna Process members were targeted to creating the European Higher Education Area, which became certainty with the Budapest-Vienna Declaration at the Bologna Process' decade anniversary, in March 2010, during the Ministerial Conference. The running decade is aimed at consolidating the EHEA, as an important instrument of the Bologna Process. The EU member states and the European Commission have strengthened their political cooperation trough several different actions and declaration. The last important phase is the Ministerial Conference and Third Bologna Policy Forum of Bucharest in April 2012 [http://www.bologna-bucharest2012.ehea.info] with the adoption of the Bucharest Ministerial Communiqué, EHEA Mobility Strategy and the Third Bologna Policy Forum Statement. The Higher Education institutions, to achieve the objectives of EHEA and in general to encourage cooperation between countries, may take part in a wide range of programmes, such as TEMPUS [1],[2],[3], which supports the modernisation of higher education and creates an area of co-operation in countries surrounding the EU. The Joint Projects, based on multilateral partnerships between higher education institutions in the EU and the partner countries, are among the actions financed by TEMPUS. They can develop, modernise and disseminate new curricula, teaching methods or materials, boost a quality assurance culture, and modernise the management and governance of higher education institutions. In the framework above, the technical and methodological aspects related to protect the environment and to enhance the natural resources, i.e. the sustainability of development and human presence in the environment, are of paramount importance. Since the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972, international environmental treaties have been created at an unprecedented rate [7]. Already in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, three new global environmental agreements were signed. The UN sought to help Governments rethinking economic development and finding ways to halt the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources and pollution of the planet. Governments recognized the need to redirect international and national plans and policies to ensure that all economic decisions fully took into account any environmental impact. All the concepts above are in this moment (June 2012) confirmed and updated at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [http://www.uncsd2012.org/]. The conference offers a historic opportunity

3 to define pathways to a sustainable future, i.e. a future with more jobs, clean energy, greater security and a decent standard of living for all. Rio + 20 constitutes an unprecedented opportunity to build The Future We Want, as it is aiming for political consensus on a global plan which balances and integrates economic and social development and environmental protection. Environment defence in an economic and social sustainable developed word is thus becoming a more and more relevant subject both at European and global level. Environmental policy is object of discussions, in different conferences and prime ministers summits, and constitutes a priority of policy in an increasing number of countries. The necessity to develop a new, modern, integral interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum in environmental and natural resources engineering within the Higher Education System in FYR Macedonia has its starting point from the conditions described above. 1 THE DEREL TEMPUS JOINT PROJECT 1.1 The DEREL project description The TEMPUS Joint Project JP DEREL - Development of Environment and Resources Engineering Learning, financed by the European Commission for the three years period October 15 th, 2010 October 14 th, 2013, has as general objective the improvement of higher education and lifelong learning systems in the fields of environment and resources engineering for a sustainable development. The DEREL project implementation contributes to the reform of contents, teaching methodologies and the structure of the postgraduate university studies, in the field of environment and resources engineering, in the universities and institutions involved in the project of three different Partner Countries (PC) in Western Balkans: Albania (AL), FYR of Macedonia (MK) and Serbia (RS). One specific main objective of the project is, in fact, the development of new up-to-date, second cycle degree curricula in Environment and Resources Engineering at the three PC universities: Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje (MK), University of Novi Sad (RS), and Polytechnic University of Tirana (AL). The DEREL academic staff is developing the second cycle degree curricula in environment and resources engineering taking into account all positive results and achieved objectives of TEMPUS Joint European Project JEP-19028_2004, that is DEREC - Development of Environment and Resources Engineering Curriculum [8],[9],[10], carried out in the period The studies will start in the academic year 2012/2013 and in accordance with the Bologna Process, are based on the European Credit Transfer System. The curricula development has the further specific and important purpose of following the criteria and conditions for setting up a Joint Postgraduate Degree. The DEREL project also leads to the development and implementation of a sustainable regional DEREL network in which all DEREL Universities participate, aimed at: (i) Developing lifelong learning seminars at the DEREL Partner Countries for continuous environment and resources engineering education and training of interested stakeholders (i.e. public services, enterprises, non-governmental organizations); (ii) organizing and working out workshops focused on strengthening the links in the knowledge triangle: environmental education-innovation-research, with participation of postgraduate students, public services, enterprises, and non-governmental organizations as well as in cooperation with all stakeholders interested in environment and resources engineering issues. 1.2 The DEREL project consortium and management The project, carried out by the University of Firenze involves the same consortium Member Institutions of the previous TEMPUS JEP DEREC and further Higher Education Institutions

4 in Republic of Serbia and Albania. Particularly, the DEREL Project Consortium consists of 11 Universities and 7 different Institutions. The involved EU Universities are four, University of Firenze (Italy), Ruhr University Bochum (Germany), Vienna University of Technology (Austria), and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece)). Seven are the universities from the Partner Countries (PC): 3 from FYR of Macedonia, the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, the Goce Delcev University in Stip, the University St. Kliment Ohridski, in Bitola. In the consortium, two are the Universities from Serbia (University of Novi Sad and University of Belgrade) and two from Albania (Polytechnic University of Tirana and the University of Tirana). Partners of the consortium are also the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning (MK), the Center for Climate Change Skopje (MK), the Serbian Agency for Environmental Protection SEPA (RS), the Copper Mining and Smelting Industry, Bor (RS), the Agency for Regional Development - RARIS, Zajecar (RS), the National Agency of Natural Resources in Tirana (AL) and the Agency of Environment and Forestry in Tirana (AL). The University of Firenze, School of Engineering acts as contracting and coordinating institution of the DEREL TEMPUS project, responsible for all project activities and achievement of the project outcomes and deliverables. It plays the role of promotion of the project at international level, ensuring the visibility also outside Europe, organization of meetings, management of the project budget, coordination of activities of training and retraining of the PC academic staff, definition of DEREL curricula and lifelong learning courses, preparation of educational material offering tutorial, expertise and consultant services, as well as leading the curricula accreditation procedure. The experience of the University of Firenze in the field of Environmental Engineering Curricula, present at this institution since academic year 1991/92 [9] allows the involved academic staff to give a great support for the fulfillment of the DEREL project objectives. University of Firenze is the leader of the DEREL Management Board (DMB), in which there is one representative from each of the DEREL EU Universities, and one representative from each of the three PC Universities, the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, the University of Novi Sad and the Polytechnic University of Tirana. The DMB adopts contingency plans and adjustment mechanisms for the project activities. The DMB is one hierarchical level above the Regional DEREL Partner Countries (PC) Management Board, responsible for all project activities carried out by the DEREL PC. The leader of the regional DEREL PC Management Board is the Ss Cyril and Methodius University. The members of the Regional DEREL PC Management Board are the DEREL contact persons at the DEREL PC Universities, and they are responsible for full implementation of the activities carried out by their Universities. The DEREL Management Board and the Regional DEREL PC Management Board were officially established at the start-up meeting in Novi Sad, Serbia, in December The DEREL administrative coordination, that is, administration and coordination of the project activities, planning of the workshops, yearly quality control meetings and informative sessions, as well as accounting activities in EU and PC, is carried out by the DEREL Coordinating Institution University of Firenze. The DEREL Headquarters which is in charge of project secretariat, meeting organization, financial management and reporting to the commission, has its seat at the International Relations Office at the School of Engineering University of Firenze. Within the project a dedicated DEREL web site, has been implemented in order, also, to enhance the communication within the DEREL Management Boards, together with web conferencing (i.e. Skype communication). These activities will continue further on.

5 1.3 The activities The DEREL start-up meeting and the DEREL project representatives meeting, as well as workshops for curricula & lifelong learning courses, were already organized and accomplished. The first yearly quality control meeting was also carried out. Educational surveys and Labour Market needs analyses at the PC were carried out and completed. Academic visits from PC to EU Universities with PC staff training and retraining were also performed. In parallel with the curricula characterization, considering it an integrative part of the educational route, the equipment specifications were also defined. Project activities already started that will be concluded within the project are: production and publication of educational materials and development of lifelong learning courses. The final list of the 12 life-long learning courses was finished at the end of February 2012, and is available on the project web site. Analogously, activities already started and which will continue up to the end of the project are the DEREL project web-site upgrading; the network and informative sessions implementation; the control and monitoring of the project quality; the project management and administrative coordination. New postgraduate students will be enrolled in the educational processes at the Cyril and Methodius University, University of Novi Sad and Polytechnic University of Tirana starting from September 15th, The teaching of the new courses will start during the life time of the DEREL project and will take place during the whole third year of the project duration, which is fully in accordance with the TEMPUS requirements. Two types of promotional publications have been realised so far: posters and booklets. These two publications are aimed at dissemination and promotion of the DEREL project objectives, activities and expected results to the interested stakeholders. The DEREL Consortium has also planned to publish posters, leaflets, booklets and brochures, to be distributed among the students in order to promote the DEREL curriculum itself. The promotion of DEREL activities and deliverables will be accomplished also through the public media (newspapers, environmental magazines, etc.). Educational materials of DEREL postgraduate courses will be completed before the new academic year 2012/2013. It is expected that the educational materials for all of the DEREL lifelong learning courses will be completed before November 1st, 2012, and they will be published before the end of the year 2012, in order to be ready to organize (as it is scheduled in the DEREL project application) six DEREL life-long learning seminars in the third (final) year of the DEREL project realization. 2 APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY 2.1 The joint postgraduate degree In the frame of the DEREL project, the contracting and coordinating institution, the University of Firenze, School of Engineering, has presented the general requirements, i.e. minimum ECTS of the Italian Ministry of University and Research and local conditions of the School of Engineering and the Degree Course Council, to be met in order to fulfil the necessary conditions for offering a Joint Postgraduate Degree Title. This constitutes the first main objective of the DEREL project, and has to be implemented on the basis of a specific agreement between the University of Firenze and the involved PC Universities, the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, the University of Novi Sad, and the Polytechnic University of Tirana. For the mutual recognition of degree titles between the environmental engineering curriculum at University of Firenze and the three curricula designed in the three PC, in the frame of the DEREL project, some conditions have been fulfilled aiming at:

6 To ensure for the DEREL curricula the compatibility with the minimum amount of ECTS required by the School of Engineering and the Degree Course Council; To make the first year in the two curricula similar enough to allow equivalence, i.e. aequipollentia ; To make the second year in the curricula significantly compatible, in order to allow student exchange in the respect of the Italian regulation and obtain the equivalence, i.e. aequipollentia, for the selected students involved in the mobility activities. Following the minimum requirements above and in general with reference to the postgraduates degree courses running at all the EU consortium members universities, involved in the project, the draft general frame of DEREL curriculum, e.g. the reference ECTS ranges dedicated to the characteristic skills for environmental engineering, to the integrative knowledge activities, to the student autonomous activities, to the stage activities, as well as to the thesis and final exam, have been also defined (Table 1). Table 1. Reference ECTS ranges for the DEREL project postgraduate curriculum Educational disciplines & activities Minimum number of ECTS Maximum number of ECTS Characteristic Skills for Environmental Engineering Integrative Knowledge Activities Student Autonomous Activities 8 18 Final Exam Further educational activities Foreign Language 0 3 Computer Science Skills 0 3 Stage 0 15 Vocational guidance 0 3 Stage activities in enterprises, public or private authorities and professional bodies 3 Within the third (final) year of the project duration, i.e. before October 14 th, 2013, an agreement between the University of Firenze and the involved PC Universities, the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, the University of Novi Sad, and the Polytechnic University of Tirana, for the definition of shared educational paths in study courses in the field of environmental, resources and territory engineering and for the mutual recognition of degree titles will be defined. Beyond the administrative and sustainability issues, the agreement will foreseen that students involved in the mobility activities will acquire at the Partner University minimum number of ECTS, previously approved by the relevant Degree Course of their home institution. 2.2 The Life-Long Learning (LLL) objectives A second DEREL objective is to implement a sustainable regional network aimed to offer lifelong learning seminars for environment and resources engineering education and training of interested stakeholders and organize workshops focused on strengthening the links in the knowledge triangle: environment education-innovation-research, with participation of postgraduate students, public services, enterprises and NGO's. The DEREL consortium has foreseen to organize three workshops. The final list of the 12 lifelong learning courses was finished at the end of February 2012, and is available on the project web site. The educational materials for all of the DEREL lifelong

7 learning courses will be published before the end of the year 2012, in order to be ready to organize six DEREL life-long learning seminars in the third (final) year of DEREL project. DEREL lifelong learning courses will establish strong foundations for development and implementation of a sustainable regional DEREL network. The establishment and sustainable management of this network for education and training in the field of environmental and resources engineering is crucial for the further development of a cooperation and partnership with public services, enterprises, NGO's and all other interested stakeholders. The sustainable regional DEREL network will be continuously improved during the realization of the project and will be finished and fully operative in autumn The existing experiences The DEREL JP can be considered as logical continuation of DEREC Development of Environment and Resources Engineering Curriculum [8],[9],[10]. The main DEREC outcome was the introduction of a First Cycle Degree Curriculum in Environment and Resources Engineering at the Ss Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje. In the frame of DEREC Project, the School of Engineering, University of Firenze, presented the general requirements, i.e. minimum ECTS of the Italian Ministry of University and Research and local conditions of the School of Engineering and the Degree Course Council, to be met in order to fulfil the necessary conditions for offering a Joint Degree Title. This constituted the second main objective of the DEREC project. It was implemented on the basis of a specific agreement between the University of Firenze and the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, in Skopje. In particular, following the pre-defined minimum requirements, an agreement between the University of Firenze and the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, for the definition of shared educational paths in study courses in the field of environmental, resources and territory engineering and for the mutual recognition of degree titles was defined and signed. On the basis of the agreement the acknowledged DEREC title is considered equivalent to the title obtained in the First Cycle of the Degree Course of Environment, Resources and Territory Engineering at the University of Firenze, for those students involved in the mobility activities. The students mobility activities foresee, at the third year of their studies, the acquisition, at the Partner University, of at least 48 ECTS, previously approved by the relevant Degree Course of the home Institution. A further maximum of 12 ECTS may also be acquired for stage and/or final exam activities, on the basis of a study plan which takes into account also the ECTS that students need to acquire at the home Institution. The first DEREC student from Ss Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, who started studying in the academic year 2008/2009, has spent the whole final third year of studies at the University of Firenze and successfully finished the studies in January 2012, fulfilling the necessary conditions for getting a Joint Degree Title. 3 SUMMARY AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS DEREL TEMPUS project will ensure fulfillment of two important goals up to its end October 2013: (i) development of new, up-to-date, postgraduate curricula in Environment and Resources Engineering at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, FYR of Macedonia, University of Novi Sad, Serbia and Polytechnic University of Tirana, Albania, based on the European Credit Transfer System and in accordance with the Bologna Process, following the criteria and conditions for setting up a Joint Postgraduate Degree; (ii) Development and implementation of sustainable regional DEREL network aimed at offering lifelong learning seminars for environment and resources engineering education and training of interested stakeholders, as well as organization and working out workshops focused on strengthening the links in the knowledge triangle: environment education-innovationresearch, with participation of postgraduate students, public services, enterprises and NGO's.

8 The European Commission, DG Education and Culture who funded the DEREL Development of Environment and Resources Engineering Learning project under the TEMPUS IV ( ) Action is acknowledged with gratitude by the authors. REFERENCES [1] McCabe R., Ruffio P., Heinämäki P., (2011), 20 - A retrospective of the TEMPUS programme over the past twenty years, , Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, ISBN , doi: /56786, European Union. [2] European Commission, (2010), The EU contribution to the European Higher Education Area, Luxembourg: Publication Office of the European union, ISBN DOI: / [3] Reilly J. and Jongsma A., (2011), Regional seminars on university governance in the TEMPUS Partner Countries ( ), Conclusions. Issue 08 October ISBN: , DOI / [4] Caporali E., Tuneski A., Trajkovik V., Palmisano E. and Valdiserri J., (2011), Enhancing Environmental Engineering Education in Eastern Europe, Proc. of the SEFI Annual Conference: Global Engineering Recognition, Sustainability, Mobility, Lisbon, Portugal. Editors: Jorge Bernardino and José Carlos Quadrado, pp. 659:665 CD 124. ISBN: [5] Council of Europe, (2009), European Convention on Human Rights: as amended by Protocols Nos. 11 and 14. Council of Europe Treaty Series, No.5. Council of Europe Publishing, ISBN [6] European Communities, (2009), ECTS Users Guide, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. ISBN: DOI: / [7] Rosemary Sandford, (1994), International Environmental Treaty Secretariats: Stage- Hands or Actors?, in Helge Ole Bergesen and Georg Parmann (eds.), Green Globe Yearbook of International Co-operation on Environment and Development 1994 (Oxford: Oxford University Press), [8] Atanasko Tuneski (2009). TEMPUS DEREC project: expected outcomes, archived objectives and future perspectives. Towards a new curriculum The DEREC experience, E. Caporali & A. Tuneski editors, 1:8. Firenze University Press. ISBN: [9] Caporali Enrica (2009). How to design an Environmental and Resources Engineering Curriculum: The DEREC project experience. Towards a new curriculum The DEREC experience, Enrica Caporali & Atanasko Tuneski editors, 9:18. Firenze University Press. ISBN: [10] Caporali Enrica, Elena Palmisano and Juna Valdiserri Managing the DEREC project. Towards a new curriculum The DEREC experience, edited by E. Caporali and A. Tuneski, 57:64. Firenze University Press. ISBN:

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