Course responsible:John Andrew Mcneish
Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås
Limits of class size:A maximum of 10 NMBU students.
Course frequency:Cancelled for June 2024. Might be offered in 2025.
Nominal workload:250 hours of formal study hours. Students will also be encouraged to participate in group work, discussions and field visits outside of these hours.
Teaching and exam period:The course is run in the June block. The second half of the course is in the field. There will be some (mandatory) preparatory classes in Ås in late May
About this course
Each Practicum course will have its own unique subject matter and deliverables tailored to client needs, but there are a few cross-cutting learning objectives:
- Critical Thinking and Analysis: Researching and conceptualizing problems, defining the scope of a project and breaking it down into workable components.
- Teamwork: Working effectively as a team member by identifying key tasks, sharing responsibility for the project, and ensuring all deadlines are met.
- Client Relations: Establishing a positive working relationship with a client by understanding the client's needs and deadlines, leading productive meetings, following up with client requests, and managing expectations.
- Oral Presentation: Delivering an organized, articulate presentation to the client with effective remarks, digital media and graphical aids.
- Written Presentation: Preparing a professional, cleanly written document that identifies the client's problem and offers thoughtful analysis and recommendations.
The description below in italics reflects the experience from 2023. In 2024 the course will be taught in Norway. In 2025 the course will be taught in the United States. There will be a different thematic and set of local clients. This will reflect our current financed cooperation project with American University, Washington DC funded by Norwegian Directorate for the Internationalization of Education (DIKU). The broad thematic of this cooperation is Geo-political Ecology. We will draw on our previous experience of cooperation in Costa Rica to guide the structure and output of the practicum courses in Norway and the USA.
Example from 2023: Students will gain experience in the practical application of political ecology as a means to study and understand environmental conflicts in southwest Costa Rica. This year, the practicum will build on previous research and focus in particular on issues related to water. Water is one of the principal concerns in areas of pineapple cultivation in southwest Costa Rica. The pineapple industry has recently expanded to become Costa Rica's largest export crop. Current pineapple cultivation utilizes a great deal of water and an intense application of pesticides, which has impacts for both water access and water contamination. Pineapple cultivation has negative health impacts for workers and those who use drinking water around plantations. In addition to the pineapple industry, the region is known for its rivers and is the location of hydroelectric projects that threaten water flow and access. Accordingly, students will investigate water issues that revolve both around industrial agriculture and energy generation.
Students will learn to apply a political ecology framework to better understand and address these different tensions. Political ecology is the intersection of political economy and the environment, and broadly focuses on how power intersects with the environment. While methods of political ecology are interdisciplinary, they have been heavily influenced by ethnography and anthropological approaches. As such, this practicum will focus largely on anthropological field methods and we will be working collaboratively with water activists in the region. The course is designed to teach students to gather rich qualitative data and to guide students in the preparation of data that help to respond to the questions and concerns of the main and sub-clients below. In this practicum, students will apply participatory, critical, co-productive, indigenous methodological approaches to research and practice.
- Students will be provided teaching and supervision by teaching staff at NMBU and American University. The majority of supervision will be given in the last two weeks of the course. Teaching in practical methods will be carried out in both the classroom and the field. Depending on the aims of the practicum, students may also receive teaching and orientation on practical techniques and methods from external teachers and the client organizations.
- All Masters-level students at NMBU and AU with an interest and relevant skills in the field of environmental and social science studies are encouraged to apply to take part in the practicum.
- Students with both theoretical and practical knowledge within the field of environmental and social science studies are welcome to apply to take part in the course
There is no final written exam for this course.
Students will be required to submit a research report based on their thematic research. This is to be submitted on the last day of the course.
- Assessment of students presentations and deliverable will be conducted by an examination committee formed by the course responsible professors and the client organization.
- The course involves both classroom and field research-based learning.
- 50 hours of classroom teaching.
- Masters students of International Environmental Studies. Students from the Masters in International Development Studies and the Masters in International Relations are also encouraged to apply.
- Letter grades
- The course is principally oriented towards social and environmental sciences.