New joint programme gets under way
Home sweet home," one student remarked on entering the tropical hothouse at the Department of Plant Taxonomy. However, Wageningen will be a completely new experience for the 16 MSc students participating in the Urban Environmental Management Programme. It is also the first time round for the coordinators and participating teachers.
Thursday and Friday last week the students visited numerous departments at WAU as a warm up for the second term of their programme. This new programme started in August 1995 at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies in Rotterdam (IHS). In the first part of the programme the theoretical and methodological concepts of urban management problems were covered. The focus in Wageningen will be on technical and social aspects of environmental issues. These include issues such as urban water supply, sewerage and drainage systems, solid waste management, waste water treatment, public health care, transport systems and pollution of the soil, water and air. Throughout the second semester the students will divide into small working groups to address specific urban environmental problems. In these working groups students will prepare a working visit to Poland planned for the end of the semester. In June and July 1996 the students will carry out fieldwork in their home countries in
order to collect data for their theses.
Aysegul Cilidikut already has chosen a subject for her thesis: The application of environmental impact assessments in municipalities in Turkey. Cilidikut works for an investment and development bank in Turkey which invests in environmental projects in municipalities. She recounts that she was very impressed by the introductory visits to the departments. She continues, It was a good thing that Dick Legger, the programme coordinator, showed us around. You get a clear impression what kind of information and quality is available. My basic aim is to benefit as much as possible from the available facilities, especially the library. I want to collect as much data as possible for my thesis." Cilidikut concludes, The main thing which worries me, however, is shortage of time. Two months field work and five months for thesis writing is quite short."
Basant Kumar Subba, from Nepal, also knows what he will use as the subject for his thesis. He plans to focus on air pollution caused by the transport system in an urban situation in Nepal. Subba is equally as enthusiastic as Cilidikut but is a bit worried about the feasibility of his thesis. He explains: The university has the quality with regard to air pollution issues, but I have my doubts about the availability of information on transport systems."
Dick Legger, who took over the programme's coordinatorship from Hans van der Lee a few months ago, explains that most of the students know exactly what they want to get out of this programme, since they all have jobs in fields related to urban environmental issues. He continues, At the moment the programme is still an externally funded, joint programme between IHS and WAU. In order for the programme to be officially recognised as an MSc programme, it still has to be approved by the University Council." Legger expects this to happen before June this year. Tuur Mol, from the Department of Sociology, expects that when this approval is granted the programme might be extended to 17 months. Mol admits: The programme is quite ambitious and full, but I do not think we demand too much of the students. I noticed that they are highly qualified students." Mol admits that there will inevitably be changes and adaptations at the end of this first year: It is a learning pro
cess for all participants."