Project Facts

Facts and Figures

Key words: low-carbon society, landscape, land use, higher education, study programme, EU

Programme: Erasmus+

Key Action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices

Action:  Strategic Partnerships in higher education.

Priorities: Improving the quality and relevance of higher education and strengthening quality through mobility and cross-border cooperation

Coordinator: University of Eastern Finland (UEF)

Partners:  Finland/Regional Council of North Karelia, Metsähallitus; Poland/Adam Mickiewicz University, Municipal Planning Office, Poznan, Zaklad Zagospodarowania Odpadow w Poznaniu sp. z o.o; Spain/ University of Girona, Landscape Observatory, Council of Girona

Funding: 315 267 €

Duration: 1.9.2015 -31.8.2018

National Agency: Centre for International Mobility CIMO, Finland

Outputs/deliverables: Competence analysis; Curriculum and learning materials; Study modules, Study platform; Methodological Handbook; Article

Background of the Project

The European Commission is looking for cost-efficient ways to make the European economy more climate-friendly and less energy-consuming. Preventing dangerous climate change is a strategic priority for the European Union. Europe is working hard to cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially while encouraging other nations and regions to do likewise. By 2050, the European Union could cut most of its greenhouse gas emissions. In this framework, the idea of a low-carbon society has been launched as an aim of future societies.

In a low-carbon society population will live and work in low-energy, low-emission buildings with intelligent heating and cooling systems. They will drive electric and hybrid cars and live in cleaner cities with less air pollution and better public transport. Many of these technologies are already existing but still an ideal future seems to be far off. Besides cutting the vast majority of its emissions, Europe could also reduce its use of key resources like oil and gas, raw materials, land and water. In this frame, land use questions can be seen as one of the key issues on the way to European low-carbon society.

In practice, one of the worst problems in creating a low-carbon society seems to be a lack of versatile specialists who could act as bridges between ideal ambitions and complex practices. For example, on the field of European land use planning and management one of the most important challenges is to reconcile land use practices with environmental concerns. It is a challenge which involves various policy levels and different sectors, not forgetting local sentiments at grass roots level. Monitoring and mediating the negative environmental consequences of land use while sustaining the production of essential resources is a major priority of policy-makers.

Vast numbers of strategies, agendas and directives have been produced for advising national, regional and local levels to make land use planning and management decisions which would consider different viewpoints, goals and endeavors of stakeholders. Special concern has been attended for improving the information flow between policy-makers and citizens when focusing on land use issues. Even if numbers of methods and environmental tools have been devised for analyzing environmental change, the relationship between people and their environments is complex and this has caused local and regional conflicts between different land use practices.

According future scenarios and national strategies a lot of new environmental specialist are and will be needed on all fields of operation. Study plans and career roadmaps for environmental specialist have already been created, but an educational deficit is still evident. The problem is that educational sector does not have a straight relation to a real working life, especially to business life, which would be the best concerned to mentor and direct the educational structures. A close co-operation between working life and education and working life based precision issues as threads of study programmes would be way to train environmental specialist who would be able to respond to challenges of land use issues and, broadly, to challenges of a low-carbon society. From the viewpoint of employment a reformulation of a philosophy of study structures would open totally new possibilities to become employed more directly after studies.

Issues like a low-carbon society, the sustainable use of nature recourses and land use practices acknowledging these ambitions are locating on a scale which does not apply to individual life and which are therefore hard to assimilate. Lack of the interface with so called human scale causes unawareness and even conflicts between different sectors and stakeholders of the land use practices. Therefore, professionals are increasingly needed to meet the challenges related to the environmental impacts of the use of nature resources, like mining industry and (renewable) energy production. It is quite easy to collect quantitative data concerning environmental impacts but the challenge is how to measure and analyze social and cultural aspects of activities.


Innovative character of the project

1) An intensive cooperation between real working life and higher education: Through non-academic partners the project will search for and define environmental issues linked to land use and landscape question which young environmental specialist will meet after graduation. At the same, the project will lower a threshold for employment opportunities of higher educated specialist and the partners can make sure that they will get job applicants with more relevant know-how and both contextual and transversal competencies. At the same, the overall aim of the project is to develop a strong partnership to advance students' key-competences to deal with wicked problems of environmental change and use of natural resources. The project will respond to challenges between higher education systems and labour market needs. In cooperation between universities, non-academic organizations, business and local people the project will serve innovative and holistic viewpoints which are strengthening students' professional competences on the field of environmental and land use and landscape planning and management. The research and problem based education provides students with an excellent basis for a career in environmental authorities, business, as well as in research. From the viewpoint of the universities, the higher education comes down from the ivory tower of the theoretical issues and applies the problem based learning theory in management of environmental issues.

2) The study module will be designed and piloted in the context of Finland, Poland and Spain but the main product – a study module which meets the needs of the partners and future challenges of land use and landscape issues – will be transferable into the other European countries and educational levels. Naturally, the operations model will be offered for re-use and further development.