“International Applied Soil and Plant Ecology Knowledge” (IntASEK)

Project:
code 2017-1-EE01-KA203-034909
under the Erasmus+ Programme, Key Action 2: Strategic Partnerships,
The Project runs for 33 months starting on 1.12.2017 and finishing on 31.08.2020

Grant agreement

Contact:
professor, vice rector of studies Endla Reintam, PhD 
endla.reintam@emu.ee, Phone: +372 7313057; +372 5170121
Estonian University of Life Sciences
Kreutzwaldi 1, 51014 Tartu, Estonia

Partners: 
Estonian University of Life Sciences, University of South Bohemia, Aix-Marseille University, Ulm University, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

Summary:
Soils are the basis for plant production and provide numerous ecosystem services like water storage, water purification and carbon sequestration. Teaching of soil and plant sciences is demanding and thus needs improvement. It is hard for students and enterprises to get in touch and get essential information thus it needs a tool for knowledge transfer. Employability has to be facilitated and improved.
The main aim of our project is to bring together the expertise of different partners to provide an interface between teaching, research and employability for students in the field of soil and plant sciences. In more detail, the objectives are:
- To develop a soil and plant ecology learning/teaching toolbox, practical training module and virtual career day;
- To give transnational view of use and protection of soil and plant resources from different European perspectives;
- To Improve practical skills of students and connecting their education to employers expectations thus improving the employability of the participants on national and international level;
- To improve teaching abilities of the participating teachers from  higher education institutions with the help of evaluations.
The IntASEK project will bring together 5 partners from 4 counties across the Europe. During the creation of the outputs the strength of Estonian University of Life Sciences is the area of soil management, as well plant physiology. University of South Bohemia strengths are wetland ecology, soil microbiology, Aix-Marseille University strength is soil organic matter turn-over and  CNRS strength is plant ecophysiology (especially drought). University of Ulm expertise is in the area of wetlands, plants and soils under limited oxygen supply and in general plant ecophysiology. IO1 includes the toolbox and provides outputs regarding mainly teaching and didactic topics. IO2 includes the platform of “Triangular Bridging” (Internationality, Practical Application, and Knowledge). The aim of  this output is to improve the flow of information; give students guidelines for successfully performing a Master Thesis, which is provided on a simple IT-Platform with further guidelines/rules. IO3 with the Virtual Career Day is the applied part of the project. This ensures the improvement in the students’ employability. Students get job opportunities, it will include webinars etc. It is not only helping students but also works the other way round as companies can approach students (broader target groups).
All together we have connected Teaching, Research and Application with these three IOs and every Output itself is supporting the other two outputs. The activities to support the outputs will be the project meetings and intensive summer schools. Project meetings are meant to discuss the substantive issues and to visit enterprises. During the summer schools the learning and teaching tools will be tested.  
Expected impact: We want to bring together expertise and entrepreneurs from different geographical and climatic locations in Europe to increase and disseminate the education of soil and plant sciences as well as the students’ employability. This will include teaching of different land-use and land-history patterns as well as societal structures. The establishment of such broad international cooperation will promote general academic competences, practical skills and has substantial value for subsequent teaching activities on all sides. Moreover, research activities will also profit from contacts between universities and companies. 
Development of new methods and technologies increases the need of specialization; thus supervisors cannot be aware in all fields by themselves. In that reason good cooperation between universities, especially internationally is important.