LUC The Hague - Summer Field School 2018
To observe nature at work, LUC students taking the Earth, Energy, and Sustainability major spend two weeks of their summer break in the Tauern Alps of Austria. In brief, seventeen students, two student teaching assistants, and one instructor went off-campus to explore Alpine landscapes at altitudes between 1500 and 2650 m above sea level while being based in a pretty rustic farmhouse for almost two weeks.
Practical field exercises focused on developing skills in field observation and data collection comprising levelling, landform and vegetation mapping, identifying sampling points, soil analysis, hydrologic and meteorological measurements. The data subsequently were processed, in part by using a Geographical Information System. All of which eventually fed into a write-up in the style of a scientific report while still being at the field site. The LUC Summer Field School 2018, thus, also mimicked a walk-through of the steps taken to conducting an independent research capstone.
The topical focus was to assess the current state of landscape functions and hazard exposure. Because high-mountain areas range among those landscape responding most sensitive to climate change, the insights served to inferring likely future alterations of ecosystem services and, therefore, options for developing sustainable land uses. Intended side-effects were that students become more experienced in systems thinking in view of the implications of climate change for developing landscape management options.
Still, the Alpine setting, wildlife observations (marmots, mountain goats, deer, snakes, eagles), living in a rustic farmhouse, the challenges of self-catering, daily dinner at a nearby restaurant, and the combination of in-class and hands-on learning activities made the LUC Summer Field School a successful fun course. An impression can be gleaned from the video shot by Maarten Molenaar during the field stay (click on the picture in the right column).