Assuring Quality In Higher Environmental Education: Med-Campus Project 349
- lkden Talay, Ph.D., Nilgl Karadenyz, Ph.D. & Sukran Sahin, Ph.D.
Ankara University, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Landscape Architecture, 06110 - Diskapi, Ankara, TURKEY
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 8 (1998), 173-176

1. Introduction

The MED-CAMPUS Programme aims to promote and support economic and social reform through diffusion of knowledge which encourages the modernization of public and private sectors, environmental improvements and economic and social development through a network of universities and higher education institutions from EU member states and Mediterranean Non-Community Countries (MNC).

The Med-Campus Programme is a co-operative, inter-university programme, established by the Commission of the European Union. The objective of the programme is to create new links and reinforce existing ties between higher education institutions in the EU and MNC. The Med-Campus Programme consists of four main project fields (Regional, Social and Economic Development, Management of Public and Private Enterprises, Environmental Management, and Cultural Exchanges), and also two main activities: Training courses for university professors and for post-graduates; and Skills development for MNC administrators and technical staff in public or private enterprises (1).

It may also result in temporary attachments at universities and companies to enhance the know how transfer; applied research to complete training activities; purchase of light equipment; and access to EU data banks and information services.

2. Aims and Objectives Med-Campus European Masters Degree Courses

European Masters Degree courses were originally developed in response mainly to the higher educational needs of the countries of eastern and central Europe.

These courses have two overall aims (2):

The courses are sponsored by the Commission of the European Communities, International Center for Technical Research (ICTR) of London and the European Centre for Pollution Research (ECPR), which offer a number of such courses in different disciplines in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Turkey. In each case one or more local university and/or institute collaborates with a consortium of European Community (EC) universities, institutes and/or enterprises in all aspects of teaching, training, upgrading. University and institutional partners actively involved in the Environmental Management Project in Ankara are:

All these courses are based on the following criteria aimed at highest possible standards (2):

Within the framework of the overall aims and criteria stated about, the major objectives of the European Masters Degree course in Environmental Management at Ankara are (2):

The overall objectives of the Masters Degree course above are realized through the following major and strategic activities (2):

Students who fulfill the requirements of the course and satisfy the examiners are awarded the European Masters Degree Certificate which is recognised by all the partner universities, both EU and local.

3. Structure of the Degree Courses

To date ECPR and ICTR have developed, organized and offered seven different Masters Degree courses in several countries in different subjects. All these courses are given in English, and the duration of each course is twelve calendar months. In each course:

The course structure below, and the outline syllabuses, was decided upon to meet real local needs of the recipients with regard to the MED-CAMPUS objectives. It is subject, however, to change and fine-tuning as appropriate. The structures and outline syllabuses are as follows:

4. The Evaluation of the Quality

Major elements of the "Quality", which have been developed over the years by ICTR and ECPR to deliver west European quality standards for the various Masters Degree courses offered by these two organizations are these (3):

4.1. Design of the overall course structure

  1. their specific teaching and training needs in the selected discipline area,
  2. deficiencies and high quality teaching and training facilities locally in the discipline area and how the proposed course could and should address them.
  3. best ways in which university-industry collaboration could take place, especially for the effective transmission of skills accruing from the proposed course to end-users.
  4. inventory of new equipment, including books and computer software, needed for upgrading the hardware component of the educational infrastructure in the discipline area to west European standards.

Inputs from the target groups, when structured carefully and with regard to obvious local needs compared to deficiencies in quality, scope or both of what is available locally, crystallize into the subjects (Modules) which together with the mandatory individual student project, usually constitute the overall course.

On average an ECPR/ICTR Masters Degree course contains eight taught Modules, a compulsory individual student project, and mandatory viva-voce.

4.2. Writing of the Syllabuses of Individual Modules

4.3. The Syllabuses of the Module

The syllabuses of the Module typically comprises the following:

(i) The 'teaching objective' which is a statement of what new knowledge and skills the student is expected to acquire from the successful completion of the Module.

  1. A fairly description of the topics to be covered by lecturer(s).
  2. The 'coursework' content. A appropriate amount of coursework, which may be experimental, computer-based, essay(s), field work, or participation in a seminar or a 'brain-storming' sessions, is associated with each of the taught Modules.
  3. A list of recommended text and reference books, computer software, educational videos and other teaching materials needed for the Module.

4.4. Setting of Questions for Written Examinations and their Scrutiny

  1. every effort made to ensure that each question in each module has a significant element, the answer to which would demand original thinking on the part of the student and/or excite his or her imagination.
  2. the drafts of all questions, set jointly by local and EU teachers, are sent to the independent external Examiners.

4.5. The Individual Student Project

  1. they must have a acceptable amount of originality,
  2. should be relevant locally or regionally,
  3. should be capable of completion, including the writing up of the thesis, within the stipulated time.

3.4. The viva voce

  1. marks obtained in the written examinations (all examination scripts are made available to the panel)
  2. quality of the project (each project thesis is sent for scrutiny to a EU panel member at least two weeks before the viva-voce and all project thesis made available to the panel.
  3. quality of the coursework (coursework reports are made available to the panel)
  4. student's performance in the viva-voce.

4.6. Updating and Upgrading of Local Teachers

4.7. Evaluation of Teaching Staff by Students

  1. general discussion of the course, its organization and management, teaching-learning process, and in particular to the competence of both EU and local teachers.
  2. a questionnaire which each student is invited to complete in strict confidence.

5. Conclusion

The overall quality and success are achieved by strict implementation of all the elements of "Quality" without exception. The management strategy is, paying particular attention to detail and making all the elements of the "Quality" to act together. This is highly appreciated by the students and the partner universities.

Apart from these, another important management strategy is concerned with motivating the local teachers to adapt west European methods of teaching and learning. In some cases, it may be extremely difficult to change from the existing local system and educational culture to a different teaching-learning method.

There is considerably a strong relation between one's age, status and his or her motivation to accept a change. Advancing age and elevated status, which usually go together, usually poses some problems. By contrast, young local teachers under the age of 35 are often easier to motivate. In most cases their change of attitude is profound. The benefits of change which the older ones find of little interest is far more interesting for them.

The local teachers who participated in the Masters Degree course in Ankara were highly motivated and willing to adapt the changes. Young local teachers, may be one of the most important factors in the success of the Masters Degree course in Ankara in achieving the objectives and the "Quality".

The long term benefits for the participating local teachers are also important. The close collaboration with EU teachers and the participating Universities, mostly leads several joint projects and publications.

Enhancing the local educational infrastructure through updating and upgrading of local teachers and through provision of books and equipment is another benefit of the Masters Degree course. A small library is established for the use of students and teachers. Reference books and educational videos are purchased. A computer laboratory is established for the same purpose and the necessary hardware and software purchased.

It is not difficult to organize a Masters Degree course, almost anywhere, provided that funding is available. What is far more difficult to do, however, is to ensure that the course achieves an internationally acceptable and recognized quality standard- evaluated rigorously and objectively- in all its academic aspects and especially in its main output (i.e. graduating class) it is difficult to see how such a course could be little more than a waste of time, money and effort if those quality standards are not achieved (3).

The ethical foundation of the hall course was taken to consideration right from the beginning. The first module which is named "Society, Development and Environment" structured to provide the ethical foundation of the course. It is done through introducing the students, the limitations of human beings and the implications of those limitations on our ability to deal with serious and growing environmental problems.

It is argued furthermore that, the fundamental reason why we exploit the resources and damage the environment is to be found within ourselves of human beings; in our aspirations, in what we expect from life, and most of all, in satisfying human greed, both individually and nationally, even if it means exploiting the earth, human beings or weaker nations.

So we really should not do something that we do not understand and damage anything that we can not create. It all lies within ourselves, our mentality, the way we regard fellow human beings, our ability to "bond" respectfully and harmoniously with planet earth and with creation at large.

All the seven modules were based on these fundamental ideas which lead the students to establish links between ethics and the taught subjects. We sincerely believe and know that the graduates who have different backgrounds disseminate this information in many different platforms to several people and ultimately, this contributes very significantly to the achievement of sustainability in terms of improved quality of life.

References

1. Descriptive Guide of Med-Campus Projects (1994-1995), European Commission, Rome (1995).
2.Prospectus of the European Masters Degree Course in Environmental Management at Ankara (Sponsored by the Med-Campus Programme of the Commission of the European Communities), European Center for Pollution Research, London, (1995).
3. Nath, B., Sˆzen, N. and Talay, I., The Concept and Implementation of Total Quality Assurance (TQA) in Higher Environmental Education. International Conference on Environmental Pollution, Proceedings Volume I, ECPR, London, (1996).


Go back to EJAIB 8(6) November 1998
Go back to EJAIB
The Eubios Ethics Institute is on the world wide web of Internet:
http://eubios.info/index.html