Annual report 2023

Annual report 2023

Annual report 2023

Annual report 2023

Annual report 2023

Annual report 2023

Annual report 2023

Mar 4, 2024
Jostein Bakke, Thomas H. Thuesen

iEarth experienced a remarkable year in 2023, marked by numerous activities and significant milestones.

There is a noticeable increase in engagement in teaching development among our colleagues, and we take great pride in expanding our course offerings that employ student-active learning techniques and formative assessment. We are pleased to present this annual report, reflecting on the past year's achievements. As always, this was achievable with the dedication and innovation of the individuals involved in iEarth. To sustain this momentum, it is crucial to recognise that iEarth is an innovation project to revolutionise Earth science education in Norway and beyond. Below, we summarise the key activities undertaken in 2023:

iEarth student organisations remain active, organising vital workshops and gatherings to foster student engagement. We value their enthusiasm and appreciate their efforts to enhance teacher and student communication. Within iEarth, we acknowledge students as pivotal change agents, and their involvement is integral to our success as a SFU.

Work is underway to develop several new courses intended to become national offerings, following the success of the geohazards course, which is now in its third iteration this year.

Across the iEarth consortium, we have been involved in over 20 course redesign projects since the inception of the SFU, marking a significant legacy of our initiative.

Efforts are being made to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our curriculum, with workshops conducted on this topic at all participating institutions.

Students are actively engaged as partners in our teaching development endeavours, with course representatives becoming a standard feature in courses. This marks the initial steps towards fostering a culture of co-creation within the iEarth consortium.

Teachers are increasingly interested in undertaking Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) projects in their teaching practices. Shared workshops on teaching portfolios are scheduled to follow up on this trend in 2023.

GeoPraksis Day has become firmly established as a national gathering, bringing together staff, students, industry representatives, and stakeholders. This year's event, the third of its kind, was held in Bergen in late October.

We deliver an increasing number of publications resulting from our activities, with eight journal publications in 2023.

The 6th national GeoLearning Forum was organised, attracting 110 participants. The theme for this year's event centred on integrating the UN's Sustainable Development Goals into teaching and promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion in Earth science education.

Changes have been made to our seed project program, including increasing the maximum grant amount and removing a fixed application deadline. These adjustments aim to enhance adaptability and allow previously funded projects to apply for follow-up funding, resulting in a lower application rate and the financing of 10 projects in 2023.

The iEarth Research Group on educational research continues its work, albeit with fewer group activities in 2023 due to the retirement of Anders Ahlberg. Towards the end of the year, Maria Weurlander was appointed as the group's new leader.

Lastly, we have observed an increased dialogue among colleagues regarding teaching practices.

A personal note from the iEarth leader

It has been a year marked by uncertainty, commencing with the prolonged reporting to HK-dir in February. Subsequently, upon reviewing the proposed state budget, it became evident that the additional reporting and efforts exerted yielded little tangible alterations. The rationale that the SFU program had limited dissemination effects beyond the centres ultimately led to the complete closure of the program when the budget was ratified in early December. Throughout the autumn months, concerted efforts were made alongside the other 16 Centres of Excellence in Higher Education to lobby and sway opposition views, albeit without success. Despite extensive discussions and compelling arguments advocating for the preservation of critical work among the SFUs, no politicians deemed it a cause worth championing, instead affirming that the responsibility (and funding) should be delegated to the host institutions.

The pervasive uncertainty of the past year has undeniably impacted us, engendering protracted and unnecessary deliberations. As we navigate through the onset of 2024, we endeavour to chart a course forward. Our ambitions within iEarth cannot be reconciled within a five-year timeframe, and we earnestly hope that our host institutions will recognise the value of our endeavours and provide the necessary funding to sustain our work. However, this necessitates continued engagement in local, national, and international dissemination efforts. Moreover, it prompts a critical reassessment of our trajectory. Should we persist along our current path? Or should we contemplate restructuring or downsizing our program, conceding that its ambitions may exceed feasibility as a national consortium? Alternatively, should we consider expansion and extend invitations to remaining institutions with an Earth science curriculum to join iEarth? I advocate for the latter option, as our collective experience has demonstrated the value of collaboration and yielded positive outcomes through local pilot initiatives that can be scaled across institutions. Two prime exemplars are the national geohazards course and the GeoIntern course, which were successfully implemented with high student participation rates.

Let us initiate this discourse! In the interim, we have applied to HK-dir for an extension of our project period until the conclusion of 2026, affording us ample time to complete seed projects and fulfil all in-kind contributions from participating institutions.

All the best,

Jostein Bakke

Annual report 2023Annual report 2023

Minister of Higher Education Ola Borten Moe handed out the national award for quality in higher education to iEarth Focus Area leader Bjarte Hannisdal with the words: "It doesn't get better than this"

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