Problem-based, interdisciplinary field-based courses: reflections from south african experiences

Trevor Hill, Torben Birch-Thomsen, Catherine Traynor, Andreas de Neergaard, Urmilla Bob

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Student field courses at Universities are increasingly incorporating problem-based interdisciplinary approaches to enhance learning opportunities. This paper reports upon seven field-based, problem-oriented, interdisciplinary courses held within southern Africa concerning natural resource management and sustainable land use. The SLUSE (Sustainable Land Use and Natural Resource Management) project, under which these courses were devised, is introduced and the process of field-course implementation is described. The SLUSE approach is discussed in terms of management issues, levels of responsibility, staff and student development and the benefits to rural host communities. The courses are very intense experiences and Students encounter difficulties working across traditional academic disciplines and in cross-cultural groups. Through critical thinking and self-reflection students understand the context of their learning better and have a greater appreciation of their own personal development. The process calls for long-term commitment to the communities with whom one works closely, the recognition of sometimes having to 'think on one's feet', being prepared to make mistakes and use frustration in a positive manner and a strong respectful working relationship from the staff. We advocate this process as worthwhile as classroom theory becomes real in all applied and complex environment.
TidsskriftSouth African Geographical Journal
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)122-133
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - 2008
Udgivet eksterntJa

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