A Year in Review: 2014 Joint Master in Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security Programme Recap

  • 2015•03•10     Bonn


    The start of the New Year and a new call for applications for the UNU-EHS / University of Bonn Joint MSc brings about a time for reflection.

    2014 was a year of transition, from changing programme coordinators to welcoming our second class of Master’s students. Our new class of 22 MSc. students come from as far as Taiwan and Kenya and as close as right here in Bonn.

    Orientation week took place from the 7 – 10 October, providing new students with a chance to become familiar with the city of Bonn and meet faculty from both UNU-EHS and University of Bonn for the first time. Students received a better overview of the programme and gained general insight into the curriculum. Through ice-breaking and knowledge sharing activities, such as self- biographical presentations, learning trees and avatar creation, students were able to learn about one another and themselves.  External visitors such as Dr. Maria Hohn-Berghorn, head of the Department of Science office for the City of Bonn and former Ambassador Harry Ganns, spoke about the city and the history of the United Nations in Bonn. After an inspiring week together, the new class was ready to start their studies.

    While the new class was hitting the books in their first semester, which focused on theory, our third semester students were entering into their practical experience segment. The practical segment started off in November with a module on GIS, after which students had the opportunity to gain insight from practitioners working in various fields of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).  Students learned about operations from technical and medical perspectives as well as how coordination efforts are managed on international, national, and local levels. The organizations represented were: the Centre for International Peace Operations (ZIF) in cooperation with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA/UNDAC), the European Civil Protection Mechanism, the German Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), the German Relief Service (Bundesanstalt Technische Hilfswerk), the German Red Cross, the German Committee Disaster Reduction – Deutsches Komitee Katastrophenvorsorge e.V. (DKKV), the University of Bonn Institute for Hygiene and Public Health (ihph), DHL Germany, and Deutsche Welle (DW) Academy.

    After the lectures, the students had a chance to get hands-on experience by role playing a four day disaster response management situation at the German Academy for Crises Management, Emergency planning and Civil Protection (AKNZ).  After the scenario, many students reported having more clarity about the types of careers they wanted to pursue.  However, before starting the job search, there was the matter of final exams to contend with as well as another module on Early Warning Systems, and a trip to the German Aerospace Center (DLR) near Munich. The final module on Early Warning Systems and Remote Sensing, included  professionals from the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), the Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN-SPIDER), the DLR International Charter Secretariat, plus contributions from our own UNU-EHS colleges Yvonne Walz and Dr. Jörg Szarzynski. During the excursion to DLR, students visited the Center for Satellite based Crisis Information (ZKI) as well as the German Space Operations Center (GSOC). They were able to learn about where the data they use comes from and see an astronaut working on the international space station.

    The year ended with a new beginning, as we started receiving applications for the new candidates.

    For more information on the Joint Master Programme “Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security”, please click here.