ITC is the coordinator of a new joint Masters degree, supported with a three million Euro grant from the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. The prestigious and international study programme, called GEM, is a Master of Science programme in Geo-information Science and Earth Observation for Environmental Modelling and Management. It is jointly delivered by an international consortium of the University of Twente - Faculty ITC (the Netherlands), Lund University (Sweden), Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) and the University of Tartu (Estonia). The first intake of students will be in September 2021.
“With GEM we aim to deliver top-class graduates from the EU and around the world, with the skills and networks to better manage socio-ecological systems for sustainable and equitable growth”, says Prof. Andy Nelson, GEM coordinator at the Department of Natural Resources, Faculty ITC. “GEM will bring real-world problems into the classroom to teach students how to use Earth observation and geographic information science when dealing with complex, global human-environmental issues. Thanks to the Erasmus+ grant, we can offer around 15 full scholarships per intake on the GEM programme, though we welcome students with other sources of financial support too”.
The programme consists of four two-year tracks after which the students will earn a double degree diploma of two universities. Students can follow a track on urban-rural interactions, land use systems, ecosystems and natural resources or food security. Students either start year one at the University of Tartu or at Lund University and continue to year two at Université Catholique de Louvain or the University of Twente. Each partner university addresses different aspects of human-environment interaction challenges with applied geospatial science.
“Geo-information science together with Earth observation and modelling make a powerful team to tackle the global issues we are facing nowadays”, says Dr. Evelyn Uuemaa, head of the department of geography, University of Tartu. “We aim to educate young specialists who then use their geospatial skills to work towards achieving the sustainable development goals.”
"With the European Copernicus program, Earth Observation recently became a game-changer for defining new business opportunities, national policies and international conventions but also to monitor their respective impacts at various scales. GEM students will be trained using cutting-edge digital technologies and in touch with top research teams in the field", says Prof. Pierre Defourny, past president of the Earth and Life Insitute of the UCLouvain.
“I see GEM as a splendid opportunity for international students to come together and learn from each other, while simultaneously obtaining a world-class education in how to combine spatial analysis and management strategies in order to combat the complex and intertwined environmental challenges that lay before us”, says Dr. Jonathan Seaquist, Head of Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Sweden.
It is not the first time ITC has led a consortium of top-class universities in GEM. “GEM ran between 2006 and 2017. During that time, we graduated over 260 students, with an extremely high employment rate across our alumni who are based in every continent. Many GEM graduates also went on to study PhD programmes in the EU or US. This time we have a different setup of universities that all bring their own expertise and provide students with scientific knowledge and international professional networks in environmental modelling and management”, says Andy. “As an international programme, students will gain valuable insights into the academic, social and cultural diversity of Europe.”