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Environmental Geography

Planet Earth is not a limitless sphere on which our ever-growing population can live and work. Without being gloomy: how can we best organize our spatial demands, so both human and nature can continue to flourish and thrive?

 

In this minor you work on a project in which the three subjects Environment, Geography and Information technology are combined to give you a better understanding of the interaction between human interactions and nature. Besides, we offer you a range of courses and workshops to substantiate contents further. In this way, you can make most out of your minor project. You will combine field- and laboratory work with computer mapping and data analysis. You will divide the work between you and your 3 group members. We stimulate multidisciplinary groups, so you can learn with each other ánd from each other. 

 

The minor consist of courses (10 ects) and a project (18 ects). One of the activities in the project is the international week, in which our University works closely together with two Universities in Finland. We would love to take you to Helsinki or one of our other partner Universities. Fees for trips will be communicated later in the process. There is also a possibility to stay in Breda and receive international guests here.

Project:

 

In the project students work in a project small team doing research and advise on a question from an actual client. One of the questions our students worked on recently was connected to the effects of nitrogen deposition in the Loonse and Drunense Dunes and its effect on the succession of vegetation. Our students advised the client about the most effective way to monitor the area and prevent the loss in diversity of habitats. All of the project topics have in common that they are related to human interference with nature (positively or negatively). All projects include fieldwork, laboratory work and a geographical analysis. The group communicates about its project activities using a story map, an interesting tool for all people involved to be updated about the progress and results.

 

Project groups consist of 4 persons. Sometimes several project groups can combine their work for extra deepening of the topic. During the project, students have regular meetings with their client. The project groups are coached by an experienced lecturer in that field of expertise.

 

International week

During this minor, you join in on the international week in which you work together on a group assignment for 1 week with participating Finnish students. In this group assignment, also fieldwork, lab activities and GIS analyzes are combined, activities you are already familiar with! The international week is located both in Breda, as well as at the two cooperating Universities in Finland. You can decide for yourself at which of the three locations you participate on the international week. We will contact you about your preferences before the start of the minor and we will let you know of the additional costs and everything else you need to know. A bit of a gamble perhaps, but a lot of fun guaranteed!

 

Workshops in the project

 

During the project you will attend general workshops on different topics to professionalize the group work and to widen your horizon, such as:

  • Planning and organisation:

A successful project starts with a good idea and a good planning. In this workshop you are taught to plan your project and to keep an hour registration.

  • Communication:,

In this workshop we will look into several effective ways for communication with clients, stakeholders or colleagues.

  • System thinking:

Your actions in a project also interfere with other activities somewhere along the line of your project or of the project organization. Being aware of this, you can keep it into account, making your projects better.

  • Ecosystem services:

In this workshop we make you aware of the services nature provides us, that all parts of nature have a purpose and do prevent species from being endangered.

  • Biomimicry:

In the workshops on Biomimicry you will learn how to actually work on sustainability without becoming vague. Because if you can find all the inventions of nature and you know how they are being used, you can apply that knowledge for our own human problems as well. A workshop in which we stimulate your creativity.

Ingangseisen

The following are the requirements for taking part in this minor:

  • 120 ECTS points or equivalent (approximately 2 years of study) at the Bachelor level or higher (including propaedeutic diploma, exceptions will be reviewed by the minor coordinator))
  • Demonstrated ability to speak and write English and be able to work in an international group of students/researchers
  • Basic knowledge about Geographical Information Systems ór sufficient lab experience
  • A desire to learn more about the environment, biodiversity, ecology and geography.

If you have any questions about these requirements or if you would like to know if you qualify for this minor, please send your correspondences to sc.snel@avans.nl.

Toetsing

The minor consist of courses (10 ects) and a project (18 ects). One of the activities in the project is the international week, in which our University works closely together with two Universities in Finland. We would love to take you to Helsinki or one of our other partner Universities. Fees for trips will be communicated later in the process. There is also a possibility to stay in Breda and receive international guests here.

Literatuur

Courses:

 

Spatial data analysis (4 ECTS)

This course consists of three main subjects: geographical information systems (GIS), aerial photography and cartography.

 

Environmental information is often displayed in maps. To fill these maps, you can use several websites with geographic data on soil quality, water quality, air quality, safety information, land use etc. The maps are usually produced with the aid of a Geographical Information System (GIS). GIS can display and combine all sorts of information in a map, as long as a geographical coordinate is linked to the information. GIS is also used to analyze geographical data. In this course, you will learn to fill a GIS-database in order to make maps of your own. Later, you can even use your own derived data to add to a GIS database and show on maps.

 

Aerial photography is the skill of taking photographs from an elevated/direct-down position. Using drones with sensors and filters, the condition of ecosystems on the surface of the earth can be monitored.  This information can be combined with remote sensing databases (big data).

 

Cartography is the study and practice of making maps and what to take into account when making maps. In this course questions arise how to represent the terrain of the mapped object on flat media, and how to eliminate characteristics of the mapped object that are not relevant to the map’s purpose to reduce the complexity of the characteristics that will be mapped. Which colors should you use? And which symbols? What should be in a legenda? What makes the map easier to understand? All of which is of important to communicate about the results of an environmental study effectively.

 

Summarized: in this course you learn the basics to work in and with a GIS, aerial photography (about drones, their possibilities and the safety precautions when using drones), the tools to map and analyze the pictures taken in the field and to communicate about the results effectively. We will finalize the course, using a story map.

 

Big Data Management (2 ECTS credit)

Big data are playing an increasingly important role. The amount of data that can be stored and / or obtained grows exponentially. This is because organizations, governments and companies produce and store more and more (for example, environmental) data, but also because more and more devices collect, store and exchange data (the so-called internet of things). Storage, finding and analyzing these data is challenging and important to understand the environment. In this course you will be taught what data and databases are, what types of data exists and how you can manage these large amounts of (diverse) data in (geo)databases.

 

Environmental Geography (2 ECTS credit)

Environmental Geography is the branch of geography that describes the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world (ecology, morphology, water, environmental quality in different spheres). It requires an understanding of the dynamics of geology, meteorology, hydrology, biogeography, ecology and geomorphology, as well as the ways in which human societies conceptualize the environment. Environmental geography represents a critically important set of analytical tools for assessing the impact of human presence on the environment by measuring the result of human activity on natural landforms and cycles.

 

Preparation for Lab & Field work (2 ECTS credits)

In this course you will gain hands-on experience in environmental investigation, including soil and groundwater sampling techniques, other field samples and laboratory techniques, which can be directly applied in the project Environmental Geography. You will also learn about how to obtain reliable data from the field work and lab work. The analysis data from the field can be linked to the place of origin (in the field) and can therefore be presented in a map. The data can be combined with other spatial data in that area and doing so, the lab and field data can add to the analysis of the spatial problem!