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
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
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):
- to produce Masters graduates locally to best west European
- to upgrade the local educational infrastructure, also to best
west European standards
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:
- European Centre for Pollution Research, Queen Mary & Westfield
College, University of London, UK
- The University of Ankara, Turkey
- The National Technical University of Athens, Greece
- The University of Bologna, Italy
- The Queen's University of Belfast, UK
- The Free University of Brussels, Belgium
All these courses are based on the following criteria aimed at
highest possible standards (2):
- The course should address real local regional needs, emphasizing
modern methods and subjects.
- The academic standard of the course must be in line with leading
west European Universities.
- Internationally respected academics will act as independent
External Examiners, charged with the responsibility of ensuring
that the course achieves and maintains best west European standards.
- Best available teaching staff should be recruited from the
participated EC Universities (or from other good western universities
if necessary) to teach the course jointly with the local teachers.
- Projects should be mandatory and good facilities should be
provided for project work.
- Good tutorial and backup services should be provided.
- At the end of the course, all students will be required to
summit themselves to a viva voce which will be presided
over by the External Examiner. The result of the viva voce
will be an important factor in assessing students' overall performance
in the final examinations.
- Local teachers involved in the course should be enabled to
visit the participating EC Universities, institutes and enterprises
for retraining and upgrading, and to familiarize themselves with
west European methods of teaching and learning.
- Support and collaboration of local authorities, industry and
enterprises should be sought, especially in order to ensure that
real local or regional needs are being addressed.
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):
- To produce Masters graduate in Environmental Management whose
knowledge and skills are in line with best west European standards
and meet real local and regional needs.
- To enable local teachers, involved in the course, to visit
participating EC Universities for updating their knowledge or
for learning new skills.
- To enable local in-service professionals to update their knowledge,
or to learn new skills, in one or more subjects on offer in minimum
- To enable promising students to go to the participating EC
Universities for further studies which may lead to what is called
the "split" Ph.D. degree.
- To upgrade the local educational infrastructure, in the discipline
of the course offered, also to best west European standards.
The overall objectives of the Masters Degree course above are
realized through the following major and strategic activities
- performance of all academic tasks (such as curriculum development,
teaching, monitoring, evaluation and examination, development
of teaching materials etc.) jointly by component teachers from
the partner EU universities and their local counterparts,
- systematic updating and upgrading of the participating local
teachers at the partner EU universities under the supervision
of their respective EU colleagues,
- mandatory individual projects which each student must do,
- mandatory written examinations and the mandatory viva voce
to which all student must submit themselves,
- rigorous quality control of input, throughput and output which
is done through the application of "Quality" under the
supervision of one or two eminent experts in the field acting
as independent External Examiners,
- acquisition of necessary equipment(i.e. hardware, computer
software, text and reference books, journals and manuals)
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
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:
- specific educational and training needs, that are considered
to be priorities both locally and regionally for the wider socio-economic
development of the beneficiaries, have been the criterion for
both course design and selection of subjects constituting the
- accordingly the individual subjects constituting the overall
course in Ankara have been selected on the basis of real national
and regional needs in Environmental Management.
- they are also meant to address local and regional deficiencies
in both teaching and training in priority subjects in that discipline
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:
- "Basic Ecology" is primarily designed as a general
introduction to biological aspects of environmental science for
engineers and non-biologists. It covers basic aspects of biochemistry
and cell and organism function in order to develop the concept
of the functional roles of organisms in the biosphere and the
interaction between physico-chemical and biological activities
in the "hydrobiogeosphere".
- "Society, Development and Environment" sets the
scene for the entire course, its principal elements being: social
attitudes to economic development and resulting environmental
consequences; individual and societal responsibilities to the
environment; concepts of GAIA, sustainable development, sustainable
life-style and Eco-Economics; role and limitation of technology
in the mitigation of environmental damage.
- "Basic Elements of Environmental Management" and
"Advanced Elements of Environmental Management" are
designed to train students to a level of expertise where they
are familiar with State of the Environment Reporting, able to
carry out EIA of proposed or existing projects and are familiar
with the fundamentals of the evolving subject of Environmental
- "Solid Waste Management" is concerned with the increasingly
challenging problem of managing solid wastes in developing countries.
Management scenarios and relative advantages of the following
modes of disposal are considered: landfill, ocean dumping, incineration,
composting and co-composting.
- "Wastewater Treatment & Modern Developments"
is concerned with the management of wastewater, both domestic
and industrial. Aspects of treatment and modern developments in
treatment also is considered.
- "Tourism and The Environment" is concerned with
the lessening or, if possible, elimination of environmental damage
caused by tourism. The following major topics is covered: interaction
between tourism and the environment in terms of 'Menifacts', 'Artefacts'
and 'Sociofacts'; strategies for reducing tourist impact on coastal
areas, parklands and nature reserves; the concept of eco-tourism
and how to get there; sustainable tourism.
- "Application of GIS to Environmental Management"
is designed to train students on GIS software and hardware, and
applications on the related subjects.
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):
- Design of course structure and individual syllabuses and their
- Setting of questions for written examinations and their scrutiny.
- The individual student project.
- The viva voce.
- Updating and upgrading of local teachers.
- Evaluation of teaching staff by students.
4.1. Design of the overall course structure
- Detailed design of the overall course structure, which is
undertaken once the discipline has been decided upon relies on
inputs from various target groups in the beneficiary country.
Depending on the discipline, the target groups can be combinations
of the following: students and teachers at the host university,
industry, enterprises, municipalities, municipalities, chambers
of commerce, agencies of local governments, government ministries
and agencies and Non- Governmental Organizations.
- Meetings and discussions are held with the target groups,
and site visits are made as necessary for fact-finding, in order
to establish the following:
- their specific teaching and training needs in the selected
- deficiencies and high quality teaching and training facilities
locally in the discipline area and how the proposed course could
and should address them.
- 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.
- 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
4.2. Writing of the Syllabuses of Individual Modules
- This activity is carried out jointly by local and EU teachers.
Each module is assigned to a Module group compromising one or
two more local teachers and one ore more EU teachers who specialize
in the subject area of the Module.
- When ready, drafts of the Module syllabuses and the overall
course structure are sent to the independent external examiners
for their scrutiny and evaluation to determine whether they conform
to west European standards.
- After the criticism of the syllabuses, sometimes even the
overall course structure, they are then revised by Module groups
and sent once more to the independent external Examiners for their
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.
- A fairly description of the topics to be covered by lecturer(s).
- 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.
- A list of recommended text and reference books, computer software,
educational videos and other teaching materials needed for the
4.4. Setting of Questions for Written Examinations and their
- Students are required to take written examinations at the
end of semester 1 in all the Modules taught in that semester,
and likewise in semester 2. Two aspects are germane here with
regard to "Quality":
- 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.
- the drafts of all questions, set jointly by local and EU teachers,
are sent to the independent external Examiners.
- The question paper on each module has two parts; questions
in part A are set by the EU teacher(s) and those in part B by
the local teacher(s).Books A and B are separately marked by the
EU and local teachers respectively, and often the marks given
are scrutinized together by them in order to ensure uniformity.
Marked examination scripts are made available to the independent
external Examiners during viva-voce.
4.5. The Individual Student Project
- Individual student projects are a mandatory and integral part
of all ECPR/ICTR Masters Degree courses, and a great deal of importance
is attached to them.
- Each student is required to do a project under the guidance
of his or her supervisor who is usually a local teacher.
- Projects may be computer based, experimental (field or laboratory),or
an extended essay or a literature survey.
- Projects must satisfy the following criteria:
- they must have a acceptable amount of originality,
- should be relevant locally or regionally,
- should be capable of completion, including the writing up
of the thesis, within the stipulated time.
3.4. The viva voce
- The viva-voce which is mandatory for all students and
takes place at the end of the 12-month course, is the most important
strategic intervention which the independent external Examiners
make in order to ensure that quality of the project output conforms
to best west European standards.
- Each student is orally examined, individually and separately.
- It is conducted by a panel of EU and local teachers.
- The purpose for the panel is to assess the project work of
the student and to evaluate his or her overall profile in terms
of knowledge and skills gained from the entire course.
- The panel evaluates the overall profile of the student with
- marks obtained in the written examinations (all examination
scripts are made available to the panel)
- 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.
- quality of the coursework (coursework reports are made available
to the panel)
- student's performance in the viva-voce.
4.6. Updating and Upgrading of Local Teachers
- Updating and upgrading of local teachers is directly concerned
with the uplifting the software component of the educational infrastructure
to west European standards.
- Updating is necessary because colleagues from beneficiary
universities have limited and sometimes no access to modern text
and reference books, manuals, journals and teaching materials
and aids in the video or CD-ROM format. Consequently their knowledge
and information is dated.
- Upgrading is concerned with the acquisition of new knowledge
information; enhancing the ability to analyze and synthesize the
acquired knowledge and information; and emulating effective west
European methods of teaching, evaluating, curriculum development
and other academic activities.
4.7. Evaluation of Teaching Staff by Students
- Students are the main end-users of a given Masters Degree
course and they are the customers of the service provided.
- It would make much sense, to solicit student' views on whether
they consider their course as good, indifferent or bad.
- The purpose of the evaluation of teachers by students is to
glean this information as truthfully as possible so that any defect
or deficiency in the course can be speedily addressed. Two such
evaluations are carried out by the Coordinator of the course at
the end of each two semesters.
- Evaluation takes place in two forms;
- general discussion of the course, its organization and management,
teaching-learning process, and in particular to the competence
of both EU and local teachers.
- a questionnaire which each student is invited to complete
in strict confidence.
- In the questionnaire each student is invited to rate the competence
of each teacher, both EU and local, on a scale of zero to ten
under each of the following headings; depth of knowledge, ability
to teach and general helpfulness.
- If the aggregate rating given to any teacher falls below 15
for the three headings combined, then the teacher is replaced.
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
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
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
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.
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., Szen, 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).
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