Learning together about Processes at the Earth’s Vulnerable Skin: The ESD 2018 summer school in Germany

We have the pleasure of welcoming the students from the Earth Surface Dynamics (ESD) summer school back to SciSnack. Over the coming weeks the students will publish their articles from the course on SciScnack.com. Here, course leaders Martin H. Trauth (who also runs MATLAB recipes for Earth Sciences blog), Verena Foerster and Mark A. Maslin  explain what happens at the ESD summer school. 

Photos by students and instructors from the ESD Summer School.

In the scientific world a summer school is so much more than school in summer – it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for young scientist to experience the different facets of learning in a group of interdisciplinary peers in a new environment.

During the Earth Surface Dynamics (ESD) summer school 2018, thirty doctoral students and lecturers from interdisciplinary scientific fields such as geosciences or environmental sciences from thirteen countries met at the University of Potsdam and travelled to four course locations that represents the different earth surface dynamics of Germany. The summer school was designed to (1) improve the student’s understanding of the complex interaction of the processes shaping the Earth’s surface at different temporal and spatial scales, (2) monitor, model and predict the results of these interactions, and (3) identify and mitigate risks of natural and human-caused interference in these processes in an interdisciplinary and intercultural environment.

The course locations are representative of typical settings for Earth surface processes, from the coast to lowlands and from continental rifts to high mountains. After five intensive days of teaching and learning in the classroom, the class went to the field to see great examples of these geological-geomorphological settings. Outdoors, the application of the freshly learned methods was discussed and enjoyed. An integral part of the event, similar to previous summer schools, was a module for scientific communication. In addition to topics such as presentation techniques and project management, the participants wrote a popular science essay for a blog. The contributions reflecting the diverse, intercultural and interdisciplinary backgrounds of the summer school were discussed in an internal feedback system between the participants and the lecturers before being posted to SciSnack in the coming weeks.

The intense, multifaceted science training program of the summer school will help participants to acquire knowledge and understanding of the processes shaping the Earth’s vulnerable skin and to define premier research topics to study processes at the Earth’s dynamic surface. It will ultimately provide the next generation of researchers, practitioners and lecturers with the necessary background and scientific tools to evaluate and mitigate the effects of present-day and future environmental change.

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