Top-level summer course on ecosystem services

The European Campus of Excellence gathers top teachers to Helsinki next summer. The three-week course will admit 25 students.

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The University of Helsinki has been given the responsibility to organise the European Campus of Excellence (ECE) course this summer. The three-week course, Measuring and Valuing Ecosystem Services, uses methods from agricultural and forest sciences as well as social sciences to focus on ecosystem services from a multidisciplinary perspective.

The first and last weeks will be held in Helsinki, with one week between being spent on the Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station.

A group of top experts in their fields, including Dutch agricultural scientist Rik Leemans, Swedish forest scientist Jon Moen and Norwegian economist Arild Vatn will teach the course which will be free of charge for 25 Master’s level students selected from across Europe. Travel and accommodation expenses will be paid for all participants.

Not just science

Janna Pietikäinen, university lecturer in environmental education, is one of the organisers. She describes the ECE course as a rare opportunity to approach a complex topic from several different perspectives.

“The course is divided into three parts. The first week focuses on agriculture, the second on forestry, and the third on the economic and social aspects of ecosystem services.”

Pietikäinen emphasises that the course is not exclusively intended for students of agricultural or forest sciences.

“We hope to receive applications from other disciplines as well. I believe this course has a great deal to offer for economists, for example.”

No admissions quotas for Finnish students are planned, but Pietikäinen encourages all interested students to apply.

International course builds networks

Laura Alakukku, professor of environmental technology in agriculture is in charge of the first week of the course which focuses on agricultural ecosystem services; she believes that a practical approach will provide students with fresh ideas.

“We’re currently constructing a new test field with sensors that will let us monitor life in the field throughout the year. Many people don’t realise that 90% of a field’s environmental impact accrues outside the growing season,” she points out.

Alakukku herself is looking forward to hearing her international colleagues’ opinions and making new contacts among both teachers and students.

“It will be interesting to hear how other disciplines approach this subject.”

The Measuring and Valuing Ecosystem Services ECE summer course will take place from 18 August through 5 September 2014. Applications will be accepted from 15 February 2014. Further information

Text: Juha Merimaa
Photo: Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station
Translation: University of Helsinki Language Services
Orginally posted on FLAMMA