Summer School 2010

The Universitas 21 Summer School 2010 was hosted by The University of Nottingham at its Ningbo, China campus from 5 to 15 July and ended at the University of Nottingham one-day conference on Food Security at the Shanghai Expo.

The Summer School offered delegates the opportunity to explore the issues of food security in today’s world and in particular economic, social, environment, trade and production issues. There were 76 delegates from 14 U21 institutions. 9 delegates were academic staff who contributed to the programme.

There visiting academics from the U21 institutions participating in the summer school came from hard and soft science faculties including disciplines such as Animal Sciences, Botany, Microbiology, Environmental Engineering, Politics, Geography and Literature.

The content of the programme was comprehensive with wide-ranging subject areas including climate change, genetically modified food, nutritional security, world trade and food policies and resilience of rural communities. The key issues were transmitted to the students via an array of teaching methodologies such as classroom lectures, debates, roundtable, reverse learning sessions, student-led discussions, fieldtrips, creativity presentations and breakout sessions.

The main aims of the programme were to enrich the delegates’ knowledge on the widely-varied issues and debates involving global food security and to expose them to the interdisciplinary nature and its necessity in understanding today’s global issues and problems.

The first week of the programme aimed to provide an international overview of various issues and problems towards the securitisation of food in today’s world. The second week then focused on mitigation strategies and had its emphasis on students-led activities. The students also travelled to Shanghai for the last two days to attend a conference on food security at the Shanghai Expo. The finale of the Ningbo leg of the programme was the creativity presentation which students presented in creative mediums such as acting, videoing, poetry and singing to summarise what they had learnt in the past two weeks and their experiences in China. This was to emphasise creativity, assess the understanding of the students on the content of the summer school and to examine the effectiveness of the cultural exchange programme.

Keynote address

Professor Michael D’Occhio, Head of School of Animal Studies, University of Queensland, gave the keynote speech providing an overview of the issues, problems and governance of food security in today’s world. This keynote speech introduced the major themes of food security issues to the delegates which were to be explored for the next ten days.

Lectures

Academics from the various universities gave lectures on their particular area of expertise to the students. These lectures contained a wide array of topics ranging from world trade, genetically modified food, rural communities, international and national mitigation strategies and research methods.

Breakout sessions

There were four breakout sessions which divided the class into half for better facilitation of discussions and interactions. The four sessions were about: food and literature, social movement and global South, invention and plant sciences and China’s mitigation strategies.

Roundtable

There was a roundtable discussion on the issue of genetically modified food and whether is it the way forward to secure food for the growing demands of the world. There were four academics involved in this session. The session was very fruitful as the students actively participated in the discussions.

Reverse learning sessions

Students were given several sessions of reverse learning opportunities to enable them to source out fellow students who are interested in similar topics. These students then came together in larger groups to discuss bigger issues and prepare for a debate. The main aims of the reverse learning session were to impart to students the importance of teamwork and negotiation skills.

Field trips

There were a series of educational and recreational fieldtrips. For the education fieldtrips students visited a tourist eco-farm, a juice and wine factory, a rural peach farm, a fishing village and a local raw produce market. For the recreational field trips students went to Hangzhou, attended a river cruise dinner and a reception for international students organised by the local government.

Creativity presentations

There was a creativity presentation at the end of the programme where students came together as a university group and summarised their experience in China for the past ten days in various mediums. Creativity was the main emphasis of the presentations and awards were given to students based on the academics assessments and popularity votes.

Cultural exchange programme

22 UNNC students were chosen to become ambassadors for the university and were buddied with 4 or 5 foreign delegates to encourage cultural exchange and international friendships. The duties of the ambassadors included day to day logistical matters such as translation and extending hospitality to the foreign friends.

This programme was beneficial to both local and foreign students and the UNNC students enjoyed it very much.