Words from the centre leader – March 2021

Easter is approaching with a well-deserved holiday for all of us. In iEarth we have had a busy semester so far with a lot of events, writing of the first annual report and we have submitted several applications for more funding.

The first of March was the deadline for submitting the annual report for the first half year with iEarth as a Centre of excellence in education (SFU). The annual report is now available on our website. Here we give an overview on current status and we look ahead to see what’s coming next. In summary, a lot of exciting things have happened in spite of the corona, for example the establishment of iEDLF, the establishment of iEarth student organizations, a new national geohazard course, start-up of the first internal iEarth projects, establishment of a pedagogical group which included five 20% positions in educational research and five PhD positions, and finally but not last the start of a new internship course in Tromsø. At the end of the report, we look ahead to what we hope will happen next in 2021 within the various development areas. We hope that the work with SOTL activities and the introduction of student-active learning actives will accelerate when we finally can meet physically again.

The program committee is already in the process of planning this autumn’s Geolearning Forum that will be arranged in Oslo the 21-22 October. Pleas block out those days in your calendar already now. One exciting topic that in the program will be reports from the internal project that received money in 2020. In connection with the meeting in Oslo, we will also conduct an institutional visit with DIKU where we will discuss the status of iEarth, how the collaboration in the consortium works, how we manage to integrate our activities in the different department’s activities, and how we work trying to initiate a cultural change where the SoTL project and teaching portfolio is a natural part of the teaching practice.

On March 15, the application deadline for the second round of iEarth funding for internal projects expired. We received a total of 27 applications well distributed between the various institutions. In total, we received applications for about twice as much as we have money for and it is very positive that so many want to start teaching-related projects. The evaluation is already underway, we hope to finish the in late April. Since we cannot finance all the projects, we will help to find alternative funding sources. Among the applications there are a number of exciting projects with a wide range of activities from basic SoTL project to exploration of new innovative teaching methods.

Last week we received the great news that we got five million Norwegian kroner extra through the academy agreement between Equinor and UiB to develop the internship course and give the students an early experience of research. This means, among other things, that we can give some PhD students an extra year where they serve as mentors for undergraduate students both in the internship program and in the program implementing early experience with research at the bachelor level.

With this, we in iEarth wish everyone a happy Easter with hope for sun and sugar white mountains!