Letter from Edinburgh

Letter from Edinburgh

Letter from Edinburgh

Letter from Edinburgh

Letter from Edinburgh

Letter from Edinburgh

Letter from Edinburgh

Sep 15, 2023
Kristian Bjelbøle Bakken

Edinburgh 25. to 30. June 2023 In the last week of June, 7 students and 7 staff from the iEarth-consortium went to Edinburgh to attend the annual University of Edinburgh ‘Learning and Teaching’ conference, to meet with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh school of Geoscience and other people doing interesting things at the university. Thanks for a great trip to all involved, and a big thanks to Catherine Bovill for hosting us this week in Edinburgh.

Here comes a short summary of our trip to Edinburgh.

Monday June 26.

We started the week with meeting our colleagues from the School of Geoscience and the Institute for Academic Development. We started with presenting iEarth, and some of the different work we do. After lunch our colleagues from the UoE presented the work they do with teaching and learning. We learned about a ‘Open.Ed’ course about outreach, then some of the colleagues presented their work on belonging and identity through a narrative methods study.  We learned about how they developed digital field guides to overcome challenges during the pandemic, and we heard about a systematic review in vulcanology education (that’s the first systemic review of the education in that field!). At the end of the day one of the people from SPARQS the ‘Student Partnership in Quality Scotland’ agency talked about how they work with quality enhancement, and quality assurance in the Scottish higher education system. SPARQS works sort of like the way NOKUT and HK-Dir work in Norway, but with a bigger focus on helping students participate in the quality system in their university.

After 10hours of meetings we gathered for dinner at Edinburgh Street food, where we relaxed with some good food after a long day. We also managed to get a good stroll through the city, and even discovered the graveyard where many of the Harry Potter names comes from. Well, most of us anyways. Bjarte and Cathy were invited to a nice pre-conference dinner hosted by the vice-principal for students at the University of Edinburgh.  


Dario and Mattias enjoying the first key note of the conference. Photo: Kristian B Bakken

Tuesday June 27.

On Tuesday the conference started, around 500 participants gathered in the relatively new Nucleus building in one of the campuses. The programme was packed with loads of exiting talks and workshops. We tried to cover most of it, but there’s no way to cover everything.  In the first keynote presentation we heard from Professor Heather McQueen, Sophie Luc and Jessica O’Loughlin (University of Edinburgh) about different ways they were using SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning). In the second key note Dr.Irma Meijerman (University of Uthrecht and Vice President Europe of ISSOTL)were talking about different ways to implement SoTL, describing the ‘Utrecht Roadmap’ and a model. The day was finished by Professor Gert Biesta who’s key note really shook things up, his talked was called: “How much research does teaching need? A case for thoughtful teaching”, and I’ll copy in the note from the programme here: “It is generally assumed that research has a key role to play in the improvement of education. Over the past decades many have argued that teaching should become an evidence-based profession or, in a slightly ‘softer’ formulation, an evidence-informed profession. These ideas have a longer history in the field of education, and often come down to the question how the gap between research and practice can be narrowed or, ideally, be closed. In my presentation I wish to raise some questions about these tendencies by asking how much research teaching actually needs. I will highlight the fact that particular ideas about research can actually undermine and distort rather than strengthen the everyday work of teachers and lecturers. Against this background I will make a case for the need for thoughtful teaching and will highlight the resources that can be of help in doing so.


Prof. Heather McQueen, Sophie Luc and Jessica O'Loughlin during their key note. Photo: Kristian B Bakken

Wednesday June 28.

The second day of the conference was all digital, and we met in the offices of the Institute of academic development (IAD) to enjoy the Barbra Becnel’s key note. Barbra is a PhD candidate, social justice activist and author. She urged us all to become renegades, and to keep challenging old perspectives, in her talk called “The challenges of reimagining education: Getting unstuck from academic traditions to construct new concepts regarding knowledge production and classroom practice.” The rest of the day we had different meetings, both amongst ourselves and with people from the University of Edinburgh. Bjarte and Dario had a meeting with Jon Turner about the curriculum transformation project in UoE. Kristian and Kenneth had a meeting with Eilidh Steele from the UoE career-center, talking about the different ways they offer internships to students. Julien had a meeting with Cristina Alexandru and Pavlos Andreadis from the school of informatics, and Timothy Drysdale and David Reid from the school of engineering, amongst other things to discuss his python fluencys project and his PhD research into graph theory. Later in the day we enjoyed a nice dinner, met some of the people from IAD and talked about how the conference was, we promptly invited them to come over for the GeoLearning Forum in November.

Oliver, Lisa, Tereza, Elena, Emilie, Majken, Kenneth and Dario trying to find supplies in "Diagon alley". Photo: Kristian B Bakken

Thursday June 29.

On the Thursday we met with Prof. Mikael Attal, Dr. Rowan Jackson and Dr. Dan Swinton from the school of Geosciences and Dr. Jacqueline Dohaney from the IAD for a field excursion around Arthur’s seat. We learned about the geology, geomorphology and cultural history of the area. Really exiting to spend the day with these engaged colleagues. And I think we all learnt a lot about the geoscience of Edinburgh, and the “Athens of the north”.

We finished the day with some Indian food, before we went out to experience what Edinburgh was like at night.

Looking at different features around Arthur's seat. Photo: Kristian B Bakken

We also found some interesting marble-steps called The Scotsman Steps, a staircase of 104 different types of marble. Photo: Kristian B Bakken

Thanks for a great week!

Participants: Kenneth Mangersnes (UiB), Kjersti Daae (UiB), Bjarte Hannisdal (UiB), Dario Blumenschein (UiB), Julien Pooya-Weihs (UiB), Mattias Lundmark (UiO), Tereza Mosociova (UNIS), Oliver Rapp (UNIS & UiO), Lisa Nystad (UiO), Kacper Karaszkiewicz (UiO) Elena Brattebø (UiB & National student coordinator iEarth), Majken Borgersen (UiB & student leader Bergen), Emilie Larsen (UiT & student leader Tromsø) and Kristian Bjelbøle Bakken (UiO).

Letter from EdinburghLetter from Edinburgh

Picture from our field excursion to Arthur's seat. Photo: Kristian B Bakken

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