First study abroad AREC program travels to Germany, Italy
AREC held its first study abroad program this past winter from Jan. 7 to Jan. 20, 2017, focusing on climate change and traveling through Germany and Italy.
The course was AREC457, Energy Climate Change and Options for a Low-Carbon Economy. Lectures took place at the Ecologic Institut in Berlin, Germany and the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)/Euro-Mediterranean Center Climate Change (CMCC) in Venice, Italy.
An array of topics related to climate change were covered by the course, including atmospheric and physical sciences, economics and climate policy, international law, engineering and history/anthropology.
Content wise, the goal of the program was for students to gain knowledge about climate policy and the technical facts that are linked to it, according to the the staff representative Jeff Cunningham who attended the trip.
“Also to experience going abroad and seeing different countries and cities and see how they are dealing with it [climate change],” said Cunningham.
Ten students participated in the study abroad program, which lasted 13 days. Students were not required to be an AREC major to join the trip.
“Some were engineering majors, and they knew the technical side, but I hope they gained exposure to things that are important for policy purposes and in Europe,” said Professor Anna Alberini who organized the course and the trip. “Germany is going through an energy transition.”
Two field trips were organized as a part of the curriculum.
“The field trips were amazing!” said Meg Tubridy, a junior agricultural economics and German double major. “Each of our field trips gave us the opportunity to get up close and personal with renewable energy such as wind and solar farms or to engage with locals regarding environmental issues. It was a good opportunity to see our daily lectures come to life outside the classroom.”
In Berlin, students toured a lignite coal farm, wind turbine farm and solar farm. They also visited several museums, including the The Neues Museum, Deutsches Historisches Museum, and the Deutsches Technikmuseum.
“The students enjoyed the lectures and enjoyed themselves , and so did I. The only thing that didn’t work out was that it was bitterly cold,” said Alberini. “But that let us plan visits around museums and indoor places.”
In Venice, the group learned about the MOSE Project, and saw portions of it, i.e., the barriers put in place along the barrier islands and inlets of Venice. These gates lift up to protect the city from high tides and flooding.
Alberini organized the program so that each day the students would have a different lecturer who was an expert in their field.
“Especially for the first time, the trip went very well,” said Cunningham. “The content was good, the facilities were great, it was better than we could have hoped for.”
The program will likely occur again next year, according to Alberini.