Department of Geography has developed an interdisciplinary field excursion for our GEO100 Introductory course. Based on a joint effort initiated by SpaceLAB in April this year, we have tried to increase the level of interdisciplinarity within our introductory courses, combining the different thematic fields within geography, drawing on several competencies within the department.
By traveling to Flåm, Sogn og Fjordane, students are exposed to themes within climate change, civil protection, nature conservation, flood and landslide processes, business development, biodiversity and many others, and they will learn how to apply various tools from the geographical toolkit to understand and explain both natural and social processes that take place in a particular place.
A total of 45 students and 5 staff members attended Thursday’s outing, which started with a very early departure from Bergen train station.
Most of us needed a little time to compose ourselves after departing at 0651 AM, but when the train passed Voss, most of the students started the group discussions: a total of eight groups with exciting, interdisciplinary topics that ranged from local food production and economic development through tourism, nature conservation, civic protection and climate adaptation, to landslide and flood hazard, were all preparing issues and questions for the people we were meeting on this a quite wet, but warm day in September, on the west coast of Norway.
We were welcomed to Flåm by fire chief Reinhardt Sørensen from the Municipality of Aurland. He presented the contingency planning and emergency response that unfolded during and in the aftermath of the great flood that hit the Flåm watershed in October last year. It was a display of local, regional and national mobilization, and the students received in-depth understanding of the importance of local knowledge in relation to public safety and emergency response.
Then he guided the students along the Flåm watercourse together with the Norwegian Water and Energy Authority, NVE . They showed the students how the municipality and NVE in collaboration are reconstructing the river and securing residential areas and farmland against future flooding. Conflicts of interest between the protection of watercourses and protection of residential and commercial areas were highlighted.
Finally we got a fascinating and enthusiastic tour at Ægir craft brewery, where founder and owner Evan Lewis told about the small brewery’s fairy tale success.
Then it was time for a little breather by the harbour before we boarded the train again and the groups took turns sleeping and working on their field reports, until arrival in Bergen at 8 PM.