Environmental science

In cooperation with EC TEMPUS project "Improvement of education on environmental management"; the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Austria and University College Cork, Ireland

Course date

5 July - 14 July, 2010
Application deadline
15 February, 2010
Course Director(s): 

Anton Shkaruba

Erda RTE, Rijswijk, the Netherlands/Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia

Rik Leemans

Environmental Sciences Department, Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University, Netherlands
Course Faculty: 

Maria Falaleeva

Coastal and Marine Resources Centre, University College, Cork, Ireland

Sandor Herodek

Institute of Limnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Tihany, Hungary

Matthijs Hisschemöller

Department of Environmental Policy Analysis, Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Marc Metzger

Centre for the Study of Environmental Change and Sustainability (CECS), School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, UK

Hans-Peter Nachtnebel

Institute of Water Management, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, Vienna, Austria

Jouni Paavola

Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK

Laszlo Pinter

Head of Department, Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Martin Sykes

Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis, Lund University, Sweden

Formerly a subject of academic enquiries, ecosystem vulnerability to climate change becomes a very practical issue. Many sectors, including forestry, biodiversity conservation, water management, agriculture (to name a few) need information about ongoing and future states of ecosystems. This is a field of studies where natural scientists meet their colleagues from social and policy science more often than usual, and where uncertainties are particularly high, because ecosystem complexity meets here the complexity of social systems, which can be even less predictable. Understanding the uncertainties is a key to successful research in the field; however, differences in academic backgrounds and the professional experience of people, even working in the same team, often prevent research teams from formulating a shared vision and achieving satisfactory results. New developments constantly appearing in this dynamic field make the task of staying up-to-date even more challenging, especially in disciplines outside the researcher's particular area of expertise (otherwise relevant though).

To address these problems, the course will pursue the following objectives:

1. to facilitate transfer of knowledge on emerging research areas and cross-cutting issues of environmental science;

2. to build capacity for adequate and efficient research oriented towards the international research community of environmental research, based on multidisciplinary; approaches and concepts, most recent findings and state-of-the-art and policy relevant research objectives;

3. to demonstrate what constitutes good research in the field, and how it can be communicated to the academic community and translated into policy-relevant conclusions.

The course in Budapest will be preceded by distance learning: students will be expected to complete course readings and familiarize themselves with the profiles of other course participants, so they will have some indicative ideas on possible collaborations.

Each session will consist of a talk and group work (including in-hand modelling assignments) followed by presentations and discussions moderated by one of the lecturers. Sessions covering theoretical issues will be combined with workshops on methodology and practical skills trainings (e.g. on writing a good paper and training in statistical tools). The following topics will be covered during the course:

  • dynamic modelling of vegetation, ecosystem services in a global change context by Martin Sykes,
  • exploring environmental change through alternative future scenarios by Marc Metzger,
  • spatially explicit assessment of ecosystem vulnerability by Marc Metzger,
  • global aspects of climate change on biosphere (lecturer TBD),
  • challenges of climate change: social perspective (lecturer TBD),
  • integrated assessment tools and potential mitigation and adaptation options and strategies for environmental change by Rik Leemans,
  • local communities' perspective on ecosystem vulnerability by Maria Falaleeva and Dimitrios Zikos,
  • strategies for adaptive environmental management by Maria Falaleeva,
  • Climate change and ecosystems: policy perspective on Integrative assessments by Matthijs Hisschemöller,
  • ecosystem vulnerability and engineering systems by Hans-Peter Nachtnebel,
  • remote sensing and GIS applications for monitoring and analysis of ecosystem changes by Ned Dwyer,
  • effects of climate change on limnic systems and adaptation measures (with field trip to Lake Balaton and the Kis-Balaton reservoir) by Sándor Herodek.

On the third day of the course the participants will be divided in small groups ((2-3 persons), each group containing students from different backgrounds. By the end of the course they will be expected to develop and present paper outlines with advice available from the faculty throughout the course. The course participants will be asked to act as reviewers of the paper outlines. The course will include a field excursion to Lake Balaton (with a presentation on climate change and the lake's ecosystems at the Institute of Limnology).

After the course a Google group will be set up to help further networking of course participants.