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Economy and Education

3.2.01 Learning from the experience of others – progress through global knowledge transfer

The disciplines of environmental protection and sustainable development are highly reliant on the continuous advancement of theoretical and practical knowledge. Germany can look back on many years of environmental and sustainability research and thus has both an opportunity and a duty to share its extensive technological and planning expertise with the rest of the world. After all, conserving the foundations of life and protecting people from natural hazards are not just domestic concerns. Three examples from the field of water management highlight the many means of imparting knowledge to young scientists across the globe.

German environmental experts teaching in China

Co-operation between China and Germany in the fields of education and research has greatly increased in recent years China has thus become an important partner to the Federal Republic – both with regard to the number of projects and the funding volume. Two main goals are being pursued: firstly, the expertise of German specialists is being used to promote environmental protection efforts in China. Secondly, the transfer of environmental knowledge is to familiarise the Chinese people with German standards, environmental technologies and expertise, while also paving the way for the entry of German companies into the Chinese market.

As an important aspect of this knowledge transfer, the project “Introduction of a German post-graduate course for environmental sciences in China” was launched in January 2003. This study programme is open to decision-makers and specialists from the fields of economics, industry and administration, who hold a Bachelor’s degree or are current Masters students, and provides them with an in-depth insight into German technologies and standards. Elements of the Environmental Sciences postgraduate course offered by the Institute of Environmental Engineering (ISA) of the technical university RWTH Aachen have been integrated in the Masters degree courses of two Chinese universities. German tutors are delivering series of lectures on the subjects of water management and waste disposal to students at these institutions. At the end of the lecture programme, the top 15 students of each class are invited to Germany to experience our water technologies and water management structures first-hand.

ISA employees teaching at the Tsinghua University of Beijing

ISA employees teaching at the Tsinghua University of Beijing
ISA employees teaching at the Tsinghua University of Beijing

Exchange programme for young German and Israeli scientists

Test drilling for a well in the Judean desert near the Dead Sea as part of a research project

Test drilling for a well in the Judean desert near the Dead Sea as part of a research project
Test drilling for a well in the Judean desert near the Dead Sea as part of a research project

Since its initiation in 1974, the water technology co-operation between the BMBF and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) has given rise to over 125 research projects. In 1999, the co-operation was further enhanced by the addition of the “Young Scientists Exchange Program” (YSEP). The aim of this initiative is to motivate young scientists to participate in the German-Israeli cooperation in the field of water technology.

The YSEP programme his since become one of the most important aspects of the joint efforts between these two countries. It is geared primarily towards graduates, PhD students and post-docs and offers research stays of up to six months at partner institutions in Germany or Israel. Up to the end of 2011, a total of 70 budding scientists (35 Israeli, 35 German) participated in the programme – one particularly positive aspect being that female students have accounted for half of this number.

International study module on flood management

Extreme flood events continue to underline the importance of comprehensive risk management – both in Germany and abroad. Transdisciplinary analyses of complex flood risks and assessments of management options are proving particularly challenging both from a research and practical perspective. By providing an appropriate range of courses, university education can instil young scientists and experts with a better understanding of the issue as a whole. This includes both the connections between the hydro-meteorological causes of floods and social, economic and ecological vulnerability as well as the effectiveness of preventative measures and disaster management.

This is the aim pursued by the international study module “Integrated Flood Risk Management” (FLOODmaster), which is taught at the Technical University of Dresden as part of the Masters degree course in Hydro Science and Engineering. The international, English-language study programme effectively combines basics of natural sciences and engineering with economic, social and planning expertise. The course is aimed at Masters candidates, students in higher semesters and graduates. The special elearning component of the programme is ideal for experts who wish to expand their knowledge in this field. The teaching materials are made available on the Internet both for full-time students and distance learning purposes.

The study concept comprises the following components:

  • Two series of lectures on the subjects “processes of extreme flood risks” and “integrated flood risk management”.
  • Three focus workshops dealing with the most important flood types; conflicts in the development of management strategies are addressed in an actor’s workshop involving specialists and professional experts.
  • Transnational issues are covered in the form of a multi- day excursion to a European flood risk area.
  • The theoretical and methodical basics from the individual components are combined in a seminar paper on a specific subject.

Students assessing the flood risk along the Elbe river as part of the River Flood Workshop in Dresden

Students assessing the flood risk along the Elbe river as part of the River Flood Workshop in Dresden
Students assessing the flood risk along the Elbe river as part of the River Flood Workshop in Dresden

The module was developed in close co-operation with multiple European universities and scientists from national and international research initiatives and is supported by a scientific advisory board. The programme arose from the BMBF initiative RIMAX (Risk Management of Extreme Flood Events) in co-operation with the European research project FLOODsite (Integrated Flood Risk Analysis and Management Methodologies). Today, this university course is taught as a dual module in Flood Risk Management as part of the international Masters course in Hydro Science and Engineering at the TU Dresden and represents a perfect example of the successful practical application of a BMBF-funded initiative.

Technical University RWTH Aachen

Prof. Dr. Max Dohmann
Templergraben 55
52056 Aachen, Germany
Tel.: +49(0)2 41/80-2 66 24 (Sekretariat)
Fax: +49(0)2 41/87 09 24
E-mail: kueppers@fiw.rwth-aachen.de
Internet: www.fiw.rwth-aachen.de/eindex.html
Funding reference: 02WA0418

PTKA-WTE Research Centre Karlsruhe

Dr. Hans Joachim Metzger
Postfach 3640
76021 Karlsruhe, Germany
Tel.: +49(0)721/60 82 23 55
Fax: +49(0)721/60 89 22 35 5
E-mail: ehans-joachim.metzger@kit.de
Internet: www.ptka.kit.edu/english/wte/index.php
Funding reference: KIT1101-YSEP

TU Dresden
Institute of Hydrology and Meteorology

Prof. Dr. Christian Bernhofer
01062 Dresden, Germany<
Tel.: +49(0)3 51/4 63-3 13 40
Fax: +49(0)3 51/4 63-3 13 02
E-mail: christian.bernhofer@tu-dresden.de
Internet: www.floodmaster.de
Funding reference: 0330680
Ressource Wasser
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