Summary of the first virtual semester of iEarth

The first half year with iEarth as SFU is completed and the Christmas holiday is approaching, something we all need after a very hectic semester. These breaks we get from time to time are probably more important than one might think, especially this year! It has been crazy six months where everyone has had to adapt to constant changes in our room for manoeuvre. Even though it has been chaotic, looking back, I am impressed with what iEarth has achieved and how much all of you have worked to get started with the SFU. Important milestones this year have been to set up a student organization, set up a research group with professor 2 competence, advertise PhD positions, arrange regular digital learning forums, and not least hold our annual Geolearning forum. This in addition, we can sense a rising cultural change in the staff in relation to teaching where we are open and share experiences and ideas more and more frequent.

Getting our students involved in iEarth is especially important as one of our main targets are to become better on co-creation. Our goal is that not a single decision in iEarth will take place without the students being involved in the process. It is therefore very satisfying that we now have both a national student organization (directed by Serianna Kvarøy) and local student organizations at the partner institutions. Many thanks to everyone for the great enthusiasm!

Another important milestone was the completion of the first round of iEarth funded projects. It was an exciting process to read and evaluate these projects which in various ways will help us to bring about a cultural change in relation to teaching practice and not least that we get closer involvement of students in the development of our teaching environment.

Another goal for the semester has been to announce five PhD positions that will contribute to the research project towards iEarth and carry out research on the changes we wish to make at the various institutions. Most of the committees are now well under way with their work and we usually get to appoint all five during the winter.

In October, we had our annual Geolearning Forum, which was planned to take place in Tromsø but had to be turned into streamed keynote lectures and local workshops. The theme for the meeting was student active learning and business collaboration. The evaluation after the meeting showed that the concept was well received and that we must further develop this arena as a national meeting place where all earth scientist can meet and discuss. Now we get to look forward to next year’s Geolearning forum as a physical event where we again get the chance to meet colleagues from all over the country.

We have had many exciting “iEarth digital learning forums” throughout the semester, between 25 and 80 people have participated each time and there have been good discussions after a quarter of posts. This is an event regular event that will continue in 2021 and if you have something exciting going on with your own teaching, we are happy to accept suggestions for topics, we will start up again on 14 January.

At the end of the year, there is always great tension associated with the allocation of funds from various funding sources. This week we got the good news that we received an award for the project “Geopraksis” lead by Iver Martens at UiT. This is a project that involves many in iEarth and not least many of our industry partners. Congratulations to Iver and thank you for your fantastic efforts! This shows that iEarth can be the hub that can drive projects around the centre, something we want more of in 2021.

Now I look forward to next year and all the exciting things that will happen under iEarth! Especially, I look forward to starting larger processes, such as curriculum mapping towards the five topics we work on – climate, environment, energy, resources, and geo-hazards. This will probably be a demanding but hopefully very rewarding process that I hope everyone will get involved in. Furthermore, I look forward to the evaluation after the first round of national geography course, something that I hope will inspire others to start similar national courses. Here I hope that the experiences can be shared through iEarth!

With this, I want to thank everyone for making this a particularly good year for iEarth. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!