The Tempus program stands for “changes in higher education through people to people cooperation”. The program funds cooperation projects in the areas of curriculum development and innovation, teacher training, university management, and structural reforms in higher education. It also facilitates mutual learning between regions and peoples and understanding between cultures by putting special emphasis on the mobility of academic and administrative staff from higher education institutions, both from the EU and the partner countries such as West Balkans.
The third phase of the Tempus programme expired by the end of 2006. The last deadline for the submission of Joint European Project proposals under Tempus III was in December 2006.
These very ideas motivated the Centre of Geoinformatics at Salzburg University to apply a proposal for curriculum development under TEMPUS III Joint European Project (JEP) 2006 together with Jagiellonian University in Cracow and Faculty of Geodesy at the University of Zagreb. Entitled “Geographic Information Science and Technology in Croatian Higher Education” (GIST-CroHE), the 2-year project was warded a grant of €268,771 and began on 1 September 2007. The Faculty of Geodesy at the University of Zagreb is the beneficiary of this project, while the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports sees this project as the most significant effort in substantiating cooperation between the Partner Country member Croatia and the EU partners Austria and Poland at HE level, and at the later stage at research level.
The main outputs of the GIST-CroHE project are twofold: 1. a revised MSc curriculum in GISc&T for the Faculty of Geodesy in accordance with the Bologna declaration and the modern, current GISc&T curricula, and supported with modern infractructure; 2. an increased number of graduates in GISc&T coming from various fields. The expected project outcomes are: 1.Increased quality of education in GISc&T at the Faculty of Geodesy and in Croatia in general. 2.Increased presence of qualified professionals in GISc&T in Croatia.
Developing the Project
In the Republic of Croatia the legal framework for introduction of the Bologna process is set up with the recent change of Law on research and higher education (2004). All Croatian universities adopted the new curricula compliant with the Bologna process. According to the last census (2001) Croatia has less than 7% of graduates with academic degrees. It also has insufficient number of people educated in Geoinformation Science and Technology (GISc&T), although this area offers many jobs and opportunities, especially in environmental and earth sciences. The latter is due to the lack of consistent education in the field for the last 20 years. This is also why the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports actively supports this project.
Recently, the Faculty of Geodesy at the University of Zagreb introduced the new, Bologna process compliant curriculum in geodesy and geoinformation, and the first generation of students started the BSc programme in 2005/2006. A number of issues arose from the need to finish the development of these curricula in a rather short period of time for approval in the academic year 2005/2006:
The MSc programme in geoinformatics is inherited from the old curriculum and lacks the comparison with the current trends in GISc&T in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and relevant international programmes and model curricula in GISc&T. Nevertheless, the part related to GISc&T of the BSc curriculum was carefully designed according to the Body of Knowledge defined by UCGIS (The Strawman Report, UCGIS 2003).
The current understanding of the meaning of ECTS is not compatible with European standards.
Although the legal framework for teaching the GISc&T courses in foreign languages exists – it was even favorized during the process of accreditation performed by the Croatian National Council of Higher Education – there were no actions so far in this direction.
Mobility of students and teaching staff is below the desired level; this however is symptomatic to the whole of the University of Zagreb.
Teaching methods need significant improvement.
GISc&T related books, periodicals, equipment and software require major upgrade.
Graduate engineers of geodesy, who finished their studies according to the old curriculum, are strongly interested in further education in GISc&T; there are many professionals working with GIS technology, who acquired only limited knowledge about the field through self-study. In addition there are many related disciplines where professionals need additional education in GISc&T such as environmental and earth sciences, forestry, agriculture, civil engineering, computer science, and many more. A rough estimate is that there are currently at least 200 professionals in various fields that would enroll some formal education in GISc&T, if such studies were available. Most of them would prefer online distance learning courses, because they cannot easily leave their jobs in favour of the full-time studying. Generally, it can be expected that the interest in postgraduate HE level in GISc&T (MSc) regardless the mode of delivery will grow during the next 5 to 10 years. The potential students are expected not only from the pool of graduates from the old and the new curricula at FG but also from other disciplines.
The main objective of GIST-CroHE is to revise the existing but not yet implemented MSc programme in Geographic Information Science & Technology (GISc&T) in accordance with the Bologna Declaration for the Faculty of Geodesy at the University of Zagreb. This MSc programme is scheduled to start in the autumn semester of 2008, i.e. at the beginning of the 2nd year of the proposed project, and will be run mainly by teaching staff at the Faculty of Geodesy using modern equipment and materials acquired through the project. The revision of the MSc curriculum in GISc&T will focus on the contents, teaching methods, and form of delivery. It will lay foundation for life long learning in the respective field as well.
The short term outcome of this project is a revised MSc programme in GISc&T in accordance to the approved European and international model curricula in GISc&T. This curriculum can be seen as a contribution to the convergence of the Croatian Higher Education (HE) system with the European HE Area through further reform of the content and teaching methodologies and in accordance with the Bologna Declaration. The long term objective is to define elements of a model curriculum in GISc&T at MSc level that is based on respective international model curricula but allows for it interdisciplinary implementation in study programmes such as earth and environmental sciences, forestry and agriculture, or architecture and urban planing, and yet meets the needs of educating professionals needed not only at the Croatian GIS market but also in the West Balkan region. The main objective will be realized through 5 types of activities leading to 5 types of outcomes:
Development of an updated curriculum in GISc&T for the MSc programme
Train The Trainer on teaching methodology for faculty at all three partner universities
Implementation of the updated MSc programme at Faculty of Geodesy
Train The Trainer and student training combining content and teaching methods
Acquisition of GISc&T related equipment for FG
The project consortium consists of three universities and two individual experts:
Salzburg University (PLUS) – Center for Geoinformatics (ZGIS)
Josef Strobl – grant holder
Adrijana Car – grant coordinator
Jagiellonian University (JU) in Krakow, Poland – GIS Laboratory of the Institute of Geography and Spatial Management
Jacek Kozak – consortium member contact person
University of Zagreb, Croatia – Faculty of Geodesy (FG)
Damir Medak – consortium member contact person
Bela Markus (University of West Hungary), Hungary
Jim Petch (University of Manchester, United Kingdom).
There is a long tradition of cooperation between ZGIS and JU that dates back to the cooperation agreement between two universities signed in 1975. Cooperation in the GIS field started in 1991. They organised two international conferences together (GIS for Environment – 1993, EnviroMount – 2002) and successfully completed several educational projects such as TEMPUS S_JEP Project “Applications of GIS in environmental studies”. One of the major outcomes of this cooperation is the post-diploma and Master programme UNIGIS opened in 2003, with the curriculum based on the Master programme in GISc&T developed at the PLUS.
There exists a long and extensive tradition of cooperation between the FG and Austrian HE institutions in the field of geodesy in form of scientific projects and mobility of faculty and students at MSc and PhD level. The cooperation in the field of GISc&T started roughly in mid 1990s and has continued to date intensifing through research and lectureship visits. Furthermore FG joined the CEEPUS network “Applied Geoinformartics” (CEEGIS, www.ceepus.info ) in its 2nd year (2006/07) setting the framework for academic mobility for faculty and students.
The CEEPUS – CEEGIS network coordinator is PLUS and JU is one of its members. Consortium members PLUS and FG are familiar with educational-, job-market-, and project-related developments in geodesy/GIS in Croatia, which triggered the idea to propose this project.
Since JU also has interest in developing materials and/or currculum at MSc level in GISc&T, has expertise in GIS for environment, and is a CEEPUS-CEEGIS member, PLUS in accordance with FG invited JU to join the consortium. PLUS and JU have a long tradition in successful coopeartion at educational and scientific level. Hence, this project is seen as the most significant effort in substantiating cooperation between the consortium members at HE level, and at the later stage at research level. Faculty of Geodesy at the University of Zagreb is the explicit beneficiary of the project because it will end up with a revised, modern GISc&T curriculum and modern equipment to support its implementation, faculty trained in teaching methodology, and foundation for establishing quality assurance set up.
The EU partners will benefit just as well: Collaboration within the framework of the TEMPUS project will increase the international position and visibility of Jagiellonian University in the field of GISc&T and e-learning. Looking at the potentials of the global educational market, worldwide applicability of curricular concepts and the building of capacities and competences for a strengthened role in international GIS education, the main benefit for Salzburg University in this project will be the expansion of its international reach.
University of Salzburg (PLUS), Centre for Geoinformatics (Z_GIS)
Experienced in educational collaborations across different cultural, economic & academic systems. It plays leading role in developing GIS education centres in Europe & CEE countries, Latin America, and South Africa. Educators from Z_GIS have been involved in management of international projects and development & delivery of edu curricula & materials for a number of years: international “Core Curriculum for GIS”, the European Masters in GI Science joint curriculum development project, post-graduate level with a standardized European certification. . Z_GIS is also founding member & leading partner of UNIGIS (www.unigis.org), a world-wide consortium of universities offering postgraduate distance education in GIS at Diploma & Masters level. 10 years of managing & offering online distance education programmes in GIScience (UNIGIS) and a regional ‘Centre for Flexible Learning’, Z_GIS is very well placed to take the lead in GIST-CroHE. Looking at the potentials of the global educational market, worldwide applicability of curricular concepts and the building of capacities and competences for a strengthened role in international GIS education, the main benefit for PLUS will be the expansion of its international reach.
Jagiellonian University (JU), GIS Laboratory of the Institute of Geography and Spatial Management in Kraków
A leader among the academic institutions in Poland in the field of geoinformation and GIS, with well-equipped computer laboratories, suitable for research and education. Educational experience covers physical geography, landscape ecology, GISc, applications of GIS, remote sensing and GPS in environmental research. In addition, GIS Laboratory has a long experience in the international co-operation in the field of GISc education, as well as an expertise in building curricula and learning materials combining GISc and environmental aspects. GIS Laboratory was responsible for the development of the GISc curriculum within the TEMPUS S_JEP 09143-95 project: “Applications of GIS in environmental studies”, 1995-1998, successfully implemented at the Jagiellonian University. In the last 10 years GIS Laboratory was actively involved in several educational and mobility projects, like HERODOT “Using Web in teaching geography” (under SOCRATES Programme, 56593-CP-2-99-AT-ODL-ODL), emGIS „Environmental Management with GIScience” (Asia-IT&C Programme, ASIE/2004/091/778), CEEPUS „Applied Geoinformatics” (CEE-GIS), CII-AT-0062-02-0607. Since 2004 GIS Laboratory is a member of the UNIGIS network, providing post-diploma 2-year on-line studies in GISc. Collaboration within the framework of the TEMPUS project will increase the international position and visibility of JU in the field of GISc&T and e-learning.
Faculty of Geodesy (FG) at the University of Zagreb
Only public higher education institution in the Republic of Croatia that organizes and performs university studies, scientific and professional work in the fields of geodesy and geoinformatics. The mission of the Faculty of Geodesy is to keep the position of regional leader in higher education, scientific research and highly professional work in fields of geodesy and geoinformatics. In 1956 the Technical Faculty split into four separate faculties, one of them being the Faculty of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy. Since 1962 the Faculty of Geodesy has been an independent entity. In 2005, a new curriculum was created in accordance with the Bologna process. The new curriculum introduced undergraduate studies of Geodesy and Geoinformatics (BSc title, 180 ECTS credits), graduate studies with of Geodesy and Geoinformatics (MSc title, 120 ECTS credits), and postgraduate specialist and PhD studies. In the academic year 2005/06, the new undergraduate curriculum was incorporated in the teaching process.
The total number of employees is 92, a half of it is the teaching staff: 25 professors and 30 assistants. The Faculty has 6 lecture rooms, 4 computer labs, various geodetic instruments and computers. The total number of students at all levels varies between 700 and 800. The number of newly enrolled students is recently rising to approximately 150 new students per year. As a part of the University of Zagreb, which has also the attribute of being scientific institution, the Faculty has also a long tradition in successfully completing scientific projects in the fields of geodesy, cartography, and sustainable development funded by the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, Ministry of Culture, European Commission (Fifth Framework – CERGOP2/Environment), UNESCO and other regional and national institutions. Since the academic year 2006/07, FG a member of the the CEEPUS academic mobility network „Applied Geoinformatics” (CEE-GIS), CII-AT-0062-02-0607.
Article written by Adrijana Car and Josef Strobl – Centre for Geoinformatics (ZGIS) at Salzburg University located in Salzburg, Austria.
For more information:
Centre for Geoinformatics (ZGIS) at Salzburg University
Schillerstr. 30, Baublock 15
A-5020 Salzburg, Austria