As part of the tasks surrounding the EU GREEN consortium, the UPWr organized a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP SOIL) course on soil protection and management of degraded and industrial soils. The first, stationary part is behind us.
Soil is an important and largely non-renewable resource that performs a number of functions crucial to human life and environmental sustainability. Agriculture and forestry depend on soil for hydration and nutrients as well as root fixation. Soil also plays an important role in the ecosystem, including water retention and carbon sequestration, and thus is of great importance for climate protection. Soil is also a habitat and reservoir of biodiversity, an element of landscape and cultural heritage, as well as a source of raw materials. In order to fulfill its many functions, its quality must be taken care of, but human activity poses a number of threats to it, which can cause various degradation processes, including erosion, decline in organic matter, organic and inorganic pollution, sealing, compaction and loss of biodiversity. Environmental scientists and policy makers have recognized the importance of soil protection and the urgent need to improve the properties of degraded soils and to rehabilitate, remediate and revitalize these soils.
Participants of the BIP on the orchid heap in Złoty Stok photo from private archive
The SOIL PIB program has been divided into two parts: stationary and online. The stationary part, which took place on July 3-7, consisted of 40 didactic hours, two days of lectures and laboratory classes at the UPWr and three days of field workshops. Joint integration allowed for a better understanding of the region in which the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences operates, i.e. Wrocław and the region of Lower Silesia, as well as the Sudety Mountains and their foothills. Students participating in the course visited Wrocław, the historic gold mine in Złoty Stok and the Książ Castle.
The online part is scheduled for October 16-26, 2023. It will include 30 course hours based on pre-recorded lectures and online meetings.
Lectures in Wrocław were conducted by scientists from the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences and experts from universities that are partners of the program, i.e. the University of Evora and the University of Oradea. Apart from them, the partners of the program are also the University of Parma and the University of Extremadura, whose employees will conduct lectures as part of the online segment of the event. For the first time, UPWr is the coordinator and host of the Blended Intensive Programme, organized as part of the activities of the EU GREEN consortium.
Lectures as part of the stationary part of the BIP photo by Tomasz Lewandowski
– Participation in the Blended Intensive Programme gives both students and teachers the opportunity to exchange experiences and knowledge. We make students aware of the importance of soil in the economy, in the ecosystem and discuss the main threats to soils. The programme develops the students’ ecological awareness and shows them that soil is a very dynamic element of the environment. The programme is designed to provide students with not only theoretical knowledge but also to develop practical skills in assessing soil properties, identifying soil hazards and planning practical solutions for soil protection and soil reclamation in degraded areas – says prof. Katarzyna Szopka, who together with prof. Anna Karczewska, Anna Posadowska-Malarz and Paulina Zaweracz are responsible for the organization of the Blended Intensive Programme at the UPWr.
The in-place part of the programme was attended by foreign students from EU GREEN partner universities and from Ukraine, as part of the Interact program, as well as students and doctoral students from the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences.
BIPs are divided into stationary and online parts photo by Tomasz Lewandowski
As part of the work packages that universities in the EU GREEN consortium have, WP6 is all about mobility. It’s within this package that the Blended Intensive Programmes are organized. SOIL BIP is the first one organized by the UPWr. The EU GREEN consortium has already held three BIPs, two were organized by the University of Parma, i.e. on food and one by the University of Extremadura on water management. Both in Extremadura and in Parma, the UPWr was a co-organizer.
– As part of the EU GREEN consortium, we assume the improvement of the quality and innovation of teaching and the internationalization of the educational process. In our opinion BIPs are the easiest and fastest way to internationalize. We’ve noticed that after these programmes appeared, students began to travel abroad more. This is an important aspect, because in many degree programmes at our university, student activity related to mobility was low, which is dictated by many factors, but mainly by the fact that going to another country for a year or an entire semester can be difficult. On the other hand, a trip for a week, because that is how long the in-place parts of the BIP programmes last, is definitely easier. Sometimes, participation in a BIP encourages students to go on a semester trip under the Erasmus+ program, which, as a vice-dean, I have observed, for example, in the environmental protection degree programme – emphasizes prof. Szopka.