Coastal experience in Nesna with SEA-EU students

A gropu of people in front of a harbour

Coastal experience: The 21 SEA-EU students, two teachers from Malta, one teacher from Gdansk, and Heidi Vinge and Kaja S. Hegstad from Nord after a fishing trip with the fishing boat "Havung" under the auspices of Kystlaget Nesna skøyteværn.

Photo: Halvor Hilmersen

Coastal experience in Nesna with SEA-EU students
The Faculty of Teacher Education, Arts and Cultural Studies (FLU) arranged its first Blended Intensive Program in April.

21 SEA-EU students from universities in Malta, Gdansk, Brest, Split, Kiel, and Cadiz participated in a week of concentrated teaching at the Nesna study location. The program took place in the magnificent Helgeland weather at the end of April.

"This will lead to more collaboration in the future," says the joint course coordinator.

What is a Blended Intensive Program?

A BIP - Blended Intensive Programme is an initiative funded by Erasmus+ where a group of students combines shorter physical mobility with a mandatory virtual component, in a jointly developed short programme, or course.

Within the SEA-EU alliance, the plan is that Nord will offer a SEA-EU BIP annually specifically, but not exclusively, for alliance students.

Staff exchange encouraged course planning

The BIP subject Education for Sustainable Development in Coastal Communities (ESD) (5 ECTS) is arranged in collaboration between three universities in the alliance and was developed by Heidi Vinge and Kaja S. Hegstad together with Mark Mifsud from the University of Malta. The planning sped up after an Erasmus+ staff exchange in Malta, autumn 2023.

"We found many common interests and challenges, and quickly agreed to try to create a joint didactic course," says Vinge.

Spring 2023, when the International Office forwarded information about Blended Intensive Programme to the faculties to motivate to the creation of a BIP, the faculty staff members grabbed the opportunity. After applying for Erasmus+ funding, establishing the course, and working in full speed, the course was ready to be launched.

A coastal learning journey

April 8th 2024 was the first of three online sessions. From April 22nd to 26th, the students met in person in Norway. The onsite teaching started once embarked the “Hurtigruta” (Coastal Steamer) from Trondheim to Nesna.

"It's about taking the advantage by being Norway's “longest” university, with study locations along our long coastline. In addition, the students really got to experience the coastal communities with their unique locations, up close" says Heidi Vinge.

The course also became an opportunity to strengthen collaboration across study locations, and academic communities, within Nord.

SEA-EU cafe with various activities

During the week in Nesna, Students, staff, and other interested parties took part in a "SEA-EU cafe", where Nord's role in SEA-EU was presented. The participants particularly noticed that Nord is piloting the building of joint study programmes such as the Joint Program "Bachelor in Sustainable Blue Economy" and "Master in Sustainable Management of Organizations" together with other SEA-EU universities.

Kathrine Fosshei, Mette Gårdvik, Karin Stoll, and Wenche Sørmo contributed both with Key-note speeches in the half-day conference, and with location-based outdoor school didactics in the beach zone. The students also got to make fish cakes when they worked with knowledge about local food systems through practical skills.

Pioneer work

"Setting up such a course has required a lot, especially since this is pioneering work and runs parallel to more established routines and systems for study courses that we usually lean on. Even so, we will definitely do this again." says Heidi Vinge.

"Anne Mette Bjørnvik Rosø, group leader for Social Sciences and Religious and Ethical Education has really been a rock in it all. It would not have been possible without her abilities to fix and solve challenges. We also want to thank everyone who has helped us in the administration," concludes Vinge.

Participating in the BIP in Nesna was an incredibly enriching experience.

Ramona Mercieca, student from the University of Malta

Nesna was the perfect location

The teachers and students from the SEA-EU universities described Nesna as an oasis of silence and nature, which framed the teaching in surroundings quite unfamiliar to their daily home university life.

Student Ramona Mercieca from the University of Malta is very satisfied with the programme.

“Participating in the BIP in Nesna was an incredibly enriching experience. From engaging keynote speeches to outdoor sessions by the ocean, beach cleanups, EkoArt, a fishing trip, cooking sessions, and storytelling, every aspect was well-planned and offered new perspectives in ESD. The accommodation at Nesna was excellent, with clean, comfortable rooms in a convenient location while the trips on the Hurtigruten enhanced the overall experience. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to participate in this exceptional programme” Mercieca says.

A gropu of people in front of a harbour
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