The University of Bremen is committed to research-based learning. At the Institute of Geography, it goes down this way: students who have just started their first semester choose a topic according to their inclination and interest and work on it scientifically. They then investigate their own questions empirically and test suitable methods. They are closely accompanied in small groups of up to five people by their lecturers. Finally, they present their posters to the university public, which illustrate the results of their scientific work. “We collect our students’ previous knowledge and at the same time strengthen their motivation for the subject,” says business geographer Mossig.
Choose Your Own Topics and Work on Them Scientifically
The first-semester students work on self-imposed questions at the highest possible level right from the start. What makes a city like Bremen worth living in? How far has the gentrification of Neustadt progressed? What effects do different glacier protection measures have on the environment? Is there a measurable anthropogenic influence on the water quality of the Weser in Bremen? Are political measures working to prevent water grabbing in Kenya? These are some of the challenging topics. At the same time, the methodical skills of the trade are acquired: correct quoting, first laboratory analyses, carrying out and evaluating surveys, interviews with experts, application of simple statistical procedures, or mapping their own result presentation. “We dovetail content and methods and set this challenge right at the start of our degrees,” says Professor Mossig. “In the Introductory Project, we don’t give the students the material and expect them to learn afterwards, but encourage them to work independently.”
Information of the Week
The module “Introductory project” also includes the information of the week. The organizational and non-subject-specific challenges at the beginning of the course are explained on a weekly basis in ten-minute bite-size chunks. How do I register for an exam? How do I organize a semester abroad? How can I successfully study if I have a child? “We don’t tell them this information all at once during the introductory week, but step by step,” says Professor Mossig. Since the winter semester 2017/18, he and his colleagues have been working at the institute with the introductory project. Regular feedback proves them right. “It stimulates the joy of studying and the interest in doing their own research,” he says.
Joy before Countrywide Recognition
“Research-based learning is a hallmark of our university,” emphasizes Professor Thomas Hoffmeister, Vice President Academic. “I am therefore particularly pleased that the introductory module of the Institute of Geography, which we were able to support with our FORSTAintegriert funds from the federal Quality Pact for Teaching, is now attracting nationwide attention and setting an example to others.”
Professor Ivo Mossig
Institute of Geography
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218-67410