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Students influence the programme

New popular courses, new laboratory equipment and greater internationalisation. There is a lot going on at the moment in the Environmental Science Programme at Norrköping and it is the students themselves who are driving much of the change.

Foto av Jesper Agrelius och Emmy Danielsson

Emmy Danielsson and Jesper Agrelius, both in their second year of the Environmental Science programme, are student course representatives (“utbildningsbevakare”) and both feel that they have the opportunity to have a much greater influence on the programme than students enrolled in other courses.

“Maybe that's because the Environmental Science Programme is a relatively small and new programme, if you compare it with other traditional courses. We are in close contact with the teaching team and they definitely listen to us.

The changes currently taking place in the Environmental Science Programme are:

  • greater internationalisation via courses in English in year three;
  • new instruments and equipment for the laboratory
  • four new courses in year three

Furthermore there are concurrent reasons for these changes taking place now. The faculty wanted to carry out a review of year three, where students select courses, and they wanted to make the programme more international.

At the same time, the programme was operating at a surplus of SEK 2.2 million (ca EUR 250,000). On top of that, the students had requested courses they have so far been compelled to follow at other universities or colleges.

“The result became a new course structure,” says programme coordinator Per Gyberg. These changes will enable us to maintain our leading position in environmental science; our students will not need to follow courses at other institutions and their employability will increase.

Foto av Per Gyberg, programansvarig på Miljövetarprogrammet

By their nature, environmental issues have no borders; we have to act globally. Environmental science students have no problem finding work. A survey covering 2008/2009 shows that 90% of students found a job in the environmental sphere within a year of graduating. Gyberg again:

“That’s extremely good, however the job market has become more difficult in the meantime, and more environmental scientists are graduating each year.

The four new courses are:

  • Research Skills, to enable students to delve deeper into the science
  • Sustainable Resource Management
  • Environmental Communications
  • Environmental Law

“LiU does carry out research in environmental communication and those LiU students who in the past wanted to delve deeper into the field were forced to study at other institutions,” says Gyberg.

He also agrees that the students do have an influence on programme design and content.

“As the programme is so student-centred there is a tradition of involving students more here. I think that’s quite unusual.”

Increased internationalisation involves both bringing foreign students here and the Swedish students being more attuned to an international perspective. Up till now the programme has found it difficult to attract foreign students. It is hoped this can be changed by use of more explicit marketing and making it possible for more courses to be held in English, of course.

“By bringing in more foreign students we will hopefully also bring in another outlook regarding environmental issues," says Gyberg.

In the plans for the financial surplus, it was noted that some of the equipment was becoming old, while the field of environmental studies was changing rapidly. The surplus created an opportunity to strengthen the areas of the programme that were previously not as strong. The money reaches the students through purchasing new lab equipment. Some new equipment will be purchased while older equipment will be upgraded.

“It is mainly equipment to strengthen the areas of climate, chemicals and heavy metals. And some of the equipment is specially adapted for teaching,” explains Gyberg.

Some of the equipment will be purchased in conjunction with researchers and will be shared with the Master’s programme. Health Protection is one of the courses being strengthened in this way. It will be possible, for example, to carry out precise measurements of particulate matter in the workplace.

There are also plans to move the lab from its current location in Gropen, however these plans are still at an early stage. Exactly how this will happen is not yet clear. The students are very happy with the changes, following pressure from them.

“We were involved on the creation of the course in Environmental Law,” says Danielsson. And now we will be the first ones to study it here in Norrköping.”

“All the former students we meet tell us that Environmental Law is a must for your studies," says Agrelius. “And now we hear that some of them want to come back just to take this course.”

Both students are also looking forward to the new lab equipment.

“It’s fantastic! It keeps the quality up and also sends out the message that this is important.”

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Last updated: 2013-02-20