The courses of my second and third semester

 

Last year I wrote a post about my first semester as a master student in the science for sustainable development programme at LiU, speaking a little about the courses I had and my impressions about them. Today I decided to do the same with the courses I had in my second and beginning of third semester, once this hasn’t been over yet. my general impressions about these two periods are very positive, I felt the topics addressed in those courses became more complex and elaborated, also demanding more from us students. At the same time, the mixture between social and natural sciences were sometimes confusing and overwhelming once we had to conduct both types of approaches in parallel. Nevertheless, I see the outcomes as very rewarding specially given the broad spectrum of content we have covered. Here are some commentaries about the three courses I had during this period:

Analytical Frameworks in Sustainability Studies

I really enjoyed this course because we had the opportunity of going deeper into social sciences analytical frameworks such as political ecology, resilience theory, global chain analysis, life-cycle analysis and degrowth, theoretical perspectives I had not so much structured knowledge about, but that are essential for a critical view over sustainable development. The classes usually consisted of a literature list, which gave a good basis about main concepts and ideas, followed by seminars and group discussions. Besides this part of the course, we had lab activities regarding analysis of soil contamination, which involved group work for the elaboration of a report. There was also secondary assignments involving GIS and life-cycle analysis. The final evaluation was an essay on a chosen topic that could be related to any of those discussed during the course.

Sustainable Resources Management

This course was for me sort of a continuation of one of the courses we had in the first semester, this time going deeper in some issues. We discussed water, soil, food and the nexus between such elements, usually following the same format of seminars and group discussions. There was also laboratory experiments related to biogas production, GIS assignments and field trips, which were very interesting since we visit the Swedish forestry and an organic farm near Linköping. The examination was based on two assignments related one to biogas and one to water, and a final paper that should address topics concerning resources management. I, for example, wrote about the aspects many related to organic agriculture. An interesting thing was we had to do a Pecha Kucha presentation about our paper (I had no ideia what it was before this course) which consists of five slides in five minutes, pretty challenge right?

                               

Designing Environmental Studies in Sustainable Development

The autumn semester started with a short yet very relevant course about methods concerning research design in environmental sciences. During approximately one month we covered topics such as interviews, focus groups, statistics and text analysis, including assignments related to such methodologies. The final examination included designing a research proposal, indicating the field of study, its relevance and how the research would be approached and conducted. I took this chance to already develop my thesis idea, and possibly it will serve as the basis for my studies in the final semester next year.

The rest of the third semester I am spending in an internship (which I will talk more about in another post) and developing research skills liked to qualitative methods I hope to apply for my thesis.

Now you guys can have sort of a complete overview of the masters in science for sustainable development. Hope I can help someone out there in their decision of pursuing a masters in this field. If you have any doubts just reach me out in the commentaries.

A webinar for more information

Last Friday I participated in a webinar promoted by LiU for admitted students. During one hour, me and another master student, spoke about different important things for anyone coming to study in Sweden. For the first half a hour we discussed some specific this that every new student needs to know, such as accommodation, programme structure, demands and transportation. In the second half of the webinar we took questions from those watching us, what made the conversation even more informative.

I decided to post the webinar here in my blog since it is a good source of information and in an alternative format. We tried to make it in an informal way so you can not only learn all those things you need to grasp in such a short time, but also understand a little bit how is the feeling of being a student in Linköping through our individual experience. In the webinar we give some tips and clarify the most common doubts. Even if you are still deciding about where to go, it is a nice way to get a closer look on what your life at LiU could be like.

 

The courses of my first semester

It’s been four months since I arrived in Sweden and I hate to say such a cliche, but time flies! I am already about to finish the first semester of my masters and that means soon I will have completed one quarter of the required credits, so I decided to share with you my reflections on the three courses I took this autumn period. 

Overall, I’m enjoying very much how things have been evolving. Sustainable development is one of those topics that can be addressed very superficially if one so chooses, but not at LiU. As an interdisciplinary program, the courses go in depth both in social and natural aspects, what can be interesting given the very different backgrounds of the students. 

  • Critical perspectives on sustainable development 

The first course of the semester really put us to think and rethink the concept of sustainable development, touching upon ecofeminism, post-colonialism and the own definition of what it is knowledge, how it is produced and circulated. I personally loved this approach once it made us way more critical about the possibilities of sustainability. 

  • Environmental use and resources challenges

Still taking on a critical view, in this course we looked to more technical aspects of natural resources and their interlinks. The classes where mostly in the form of seminars, so there was a lot of discussions. One of the things I liked the most was how we had to exercise communicating scientific content in a popular format, even simulating a interview, for example for a television news. 

  • Climate science and policy

This last course hasn’t finished yet, once the final exam will be in January, but most of the classes are over. The course was given in two different parts: the first one focused on the science of climate and the second on its governance. What impressed me was how deep we were able to go in the science part, discussing geochemical and physical aspects of earth’s climate. 

In general terms, the three courses demanded from us a lot of reading and  group work, which itself can be challenging. The examinations where mostly written assignments or reports and in many moments we could chose in what topic to concentrate. The program is research oriented and thus has a focus on academic writing and referencing. At the same time, the last course is touching upon decision-making processes and making use of GIS resources. 

This first semester has shown me how a truly interdisciplinary program works and I am very pleased both with the content and the format of the courses. Can’t wait to see what the next semester is holding for me. Here are some pictures I took around LiU for you to get inspired by the content and also by the view ?

The Norrköping Decision Arena

Yesterday I had my first class in the Norrköping Decision Arena, one of the installations of the Linköping’s University. When I was deciding which master’s program to take I read about the Decision Arena in my course’s webpage and felt very excited. For me, this type of structure shows the innovative side LiU has to offer and how they seek for new approaches to knowledge. Now that I have been there, I am only more excited to experience its possibilities in depth.

The Norrköping Decision Arena – localized in the other campus of LiU in its nearby city, Norrköping – is a 360° projection panel with interactive functions. The Arena enables the connection of many computers at the same time, projecting its screens in this circular room and facilitating data visualization. During our class we got to explore different GIS (Geographic Information System) applications related to climate change vulnerability assessments.

Bilden visar Beslutsarenan. Picture shows the arenaPhoto:Thor Balkhed

Such applications make it possible to analyze the differences in possible climate change impacts across a region, in the cases we study for example, the many cities of Sweden and Norway. With so much data available sometimes it is complicated to visualize the big picture and come up with objective information for decision-making.

The Arena makes this process easier and promotes a great space for discussion and brainstorming, and we could feel that during the class. While each one of the students were analyzing a different indicator, all results were projected side by side and we could compare it way more easily. The Norrköping Decision Arena was inspired by others of its kind around the world, but its shape is unique and truly makes the difference. I hope you come to Linköping and get to experience how is it to be the decision-maker in the Norrköping Decision Arena.