- demonstrate enhanced ability in one or more European languages to improve effective communication in a multi-cultural context
- acquire skills in geomatics (remote sensing and geographical information systems), in data analysis and/or programming software, and in office software (writing, spreadsheet and presentation software)
The student should be able to demonstrate these learning outcomes in a general framework and particularly in the framework of the unique specialisations encountered during each of the Trajectories. We recall that there are six possible European Trajectories complemented with a choice between three third-country HEIs, leading to a total of 18 unique Trajectories. Whereas the courses than can be chosen are unique to the Trajectory, in a more general way each semester of each Trajectory slowly integrates the above learning outcomes as follows:
- Learning outcomes of S1
(incl. possible pre-semestrial language school): acquire basic knowledge on and understanding of tropical biodiversity and ecosystems from general courses (similar in all European HEIs and Trajectories) complemented with a limited set of specialised courses (unique to each European HEI and therefore different between Trajectories) that will serve as a basis for the in situ experience in S2; acquire a number of general analysis and communication skills in the field of science (e.g. data analysis); put knowledge into practice using exercises, practicals and personal assignments; improve in one or more European languages to improve effective communication; get acquainted with new people and cultures in the S1 host HEI in general, and with the fellow-students of the Trajectory in particular.
- Additional learning outcomes of S2
: acquire skills in geomatics (remote sensing and geographical information systems); acquire specialised theoretical and practical knowledge and skills (with respect to inventory, mapping, quality assessment, restoration and management) applied to a particular tropical ecosystem (tropical rainforest and woodland, mangrove or other coastal system); build confidence, independence and creativity in a field course and in fieldwork activities in a tropical site; improve languages by using them; network with new organisations through the fellow-students of the Trajectory and through the S2 host HEI; get acquainted with a new culture in a tropical environment (South-American, African or Australian); develop ethical and social understanding and tolerance.
- Additional learning outcomes of S3
(incl. possible language school): acquire in-depth knowledge, understanding and skills within the specialisation of the S3 host HEI; put knowledge and skills into practice using exercises, practicals and personal assignments; develop critical judgement on own data or other data; improve in one or more European languages; get acquainted with people and culture in the S3 host HEI.
- Additional learning outcomes of S4
: conduct original scientific research on a topic related to tropical biodiversity and ecosystems; learn how to make and present a clear written and oral scientific presentation with an updated literature review, clear and sound objectives with appropriate sampling methodology, rigorous data analysis and essential results, integrated discussion that links back to scientific literature, and finally a clear conclusion; learn how to summarise the essentials of research in different languages; learn how to defend own research undertakings in an assertive way.
The learning outcomes can therefore be summarised as fundamental and applied scientific knowledge and skills with clear specialisations in tropical biodiversity and ecosystems, skills in data analysis, mobility Trajectories (socio-cultural world experience), and improvement in using European languages, scientific research and presentation skills.
We emphasize at this point that all these learning outcomes are essential in employability
of the student as well as in pursuing further in-depth PhD research
. Both national and international institutions dealing with biodiversity issues are very keen in recruiting multi-lingual
students with a particular specialisation
and with field experience
. The fact that the students in each Trajectory transit at one point through Brussels or Paris is an asset to networking possibilities with large organisations such as UNESCO, UNEP, IUCN, European Commission, Flanders Marine Institute, some of which are associated partners. Some courses deliberately use such institutional links by visiting these institutions, by participating in activities organised by such institutions or by inviting speakers from these institutions (e.g. Governance and policy in development and cooperation
, or Integrated coastal zone management
). The same learning outcomes indicated above also serve to successfully defend a PhD proposal for a funding organisation. Such proposal defences heavily rely on a person's knowledge, experience, presentation skills and assertiveness, all of which are embedded in the learning outcomes above.
In order to match the courses (see Section 2D) to the educational learning outcomes (i.e. very specifically in the field of tropical biodiversity and ecosystems) we have first classified each course according to three categories, a category on the educational level
of the course (basic
), a category on the ecosystem element
focused on (plant
between one or more of these, or focused on methods & tools
), and finally a category on the biological level
In the folowing Figure we make an attempt at this 4-dimensional exercise into a 2-dimensional visualisation:
In this figure, the educational learning outcomes are tabulated with the ecosystem element(s) under focus in the course as rows, and the biological level as columns. In addition the educational level of the course is specified as basic or specialised. The cells intersecting human with the organism, population or community level are within domains beyond the scope of TROPIMUNDO (sociology, medicine), whereas the cells intersecting environment with the same biological levels do not make any sense. When looking at courses offered by the European HEIs in the remaining table cells, the complementary strengths of the partners (i.e. the specialisations in the Trajectories) clearly emerge: ULB-VUB covers a majority of all courses focusing on environment issues and on interactions between ecosystem elements offered amongst European partners, and nearly as much in the biological levels of population, community and ecosystem. UPMC-MNHN offers a majority of the courses with a plant or human focus (particularly those emphasizing the plant organism levels), and UNIFI a majority of the courses focusing on animal aspects (particularly courses on animal organism, animal ecosystem or animal global levels). Each Trajectory thus combines courses from different biological levels and with various focuses, but at the end of the Trajectory a given student's course list is clearly dominated by courses within the specialities defined. Because each third-country HEI was chosen because of tropical biodiversity and ecosystem specificities it is evident that virtually all their courses focus on community, ecosystem and global biological levels.