IGCS Summer School 2012
Meeting the Challenges of Advanced Energy Systems of the Future |
7.7.2012 – 18.7.2012
TU Berlin, Germany
IGCS Winter School 2012
Meeting the Challenges of Sustainability in a Socio-Economically Dynamic Region of South-East India |
20.2.2012 – 4.3.2012
IIT Madras, India
IGCS Summer School in Berlin
The first Summer School at TU Berlin was a great learning experience for Indian and German scholarship holders. More information about the programm below.
IGCS Winterschool 2012 in Chennai
The first Winter School took place at the IIT Madras in Chennai, India. German and Indian students enjoyed the unique learning atmosphere and intercultural experience in a renown academic environment.
It was Monday morning, the 20th of February 2012, when the IGCS Winter School members assembled for the first time in front of the Visweswaraya Seminar Hall of the Department of Civil Engineering within IIT Madras Campus. Despite of jetlag, at least amongst the German participants, there were exciting talks from the start making sure the ten Indian and ten German students and graduates forming an interesting group. The Winter School was inaugurated in presence of IGCS coordinators, Head, Civil Engineering Department and the German consulate members. The programme started with self-introduction of student members from either country, which brought out the diversity in the educational background and their interest in sustainability and environment. The course content comprised of lectures by experts from Waste management, Geography, Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Georesources and Biotechnology.
In the first week the basis for later projects was established by Indian and German professors giving lectures in sustainability and the main topics water-, waste management energy. Here, it was really helpful to gain insights into both, German and Indian approaches dealing with aspects of environmental sustainability based on the different problems both countries face. There was sufficient time for discussions after and during the lectures facilitating students’ interaction with each other and more detailed questions for certain topics. Even after the lectures, in the evening, many group members still possessed motivation and energy to leave the safe and sheltered life on IIT campus to explore the booming city of Chennai. Visits to temples, churches, restaurants and the beach, mostly recommended by the local IGCS members, lead to quick cohesion and good atmosphere within the group.
After the Winter School’s lecture part was over, five groups were formed on Friday for an exercise. The scenario: A company (first group) plans to set up a biogas plant in a peri-urban region of an Indian city. However, first they would have to negotiate and finally convince the concerned stakeholders (other groups), which are the Environmental NGO’s, Politicians, Farmers and the Civil Movement. The discussion was intense and every group argued imaginatively, able to empathize well with the different acting stakeholders. Finally, the Biogas plant company did not achieve to convince the stubborn and skeptical stakeholders. Anyways, the discussion was fruitful, showing the complexity and many aspects to be recognized when trying to implement an innovative and new technology.
At Saturday, half of the group joined a story trail through Chennai city, a creative alternative to a conventional guidance. Sunday they visited the nearby beach town of Mahabalipuram. On Monday the Winterschool started again with the one-week student projects.
The 20 members were divided into four groups, considered there is a mix of Indian and German students and a mix of discipline specialization, which was not hard concerning the great variety of educational backgrounds. The groups worked in the four fields of water use, waste management, energy and CO2 emissions concerning the major question: How to make the IITM campus more sustainable? The exercise sounds rather harmless for a layman. However, knowing about the issue’s complexity from the first week’s lectures the IGCS members faced lots of work within a rough time schedule. Everyone was little experienced in working within such a diverse group which made it rather hard to find consensus at the beginning. In the course of the week this condition went into reverse, thus it was possible to benefit from the interdisciplinary groups. Investigating the campus area, conducting surveys, making rough estimated calculations, researching in literature and creatively finding solution approaches were the main tasks and challenges for the groups. At the end of the Winterschool each group presented their elaborated results in front of the auditorium. Result details were committed in papers, which are available on demand from the IGCS Winterschool initiators Prof. Kristin Steger and Prof. Peter Fiener.
After the completion of the project work the group started for a trip to Auroville on Saturday morning. It is a small coastal village close to Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu founded in 1968 by environment-conscious people coming from different nationalities. The aim of the founders and inhabitants is to break with consumerism and find new and better ways of living. Besides spirituality, education and collaborative mindset (abolishing of any hierarchies) creative research in sustainable technologies is an important point in their system. For the Winterschool group it was a good chance to see how sustainability could be put into praxis. As there is a lot of money and also fossil energies used to keep the system going, Auroville is not the perfect role model for a full-sustainable village, yet. However, there are many good approaches to achieve this goal, like building energy-efficient houses, using biomass and the sun for power generation, as well as implementing biological wastewater treatment plants.
On the whole, the first IGCS Winterschool was a great experience. Getting a deeper insight in the problems and potentials of environmental sustainability, having a good time with fellow students and working with them to achieve good and fruitful results in the project work, made this Winterschool participation truly worthwhile. It is to be recommended for anyone planning to apply for the next programs.