Institute of Geography and Sustainability of the University of Lausanne
Research projects

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BaSES (Learning and application of basic knowledge in economic and social sciences)

Research fields Political ecologies
Keywords Development studies
Pedagocial innovation
Funding Pedagogic innovation fund (FIP) - UNIL
Duration January 2013 - July 2013
Researchers Mager Christophe (Project coordinator) [web] [email]
Rattu Paola (Principal Investigator)
Véron René (Principal Investigator) [web] [email]

The “Development studies” option of the MSc. in geography has shown two main pedagogical needs, linked to the students’ knowledge and to their soft skills. i) Knowledge. Even though development studies are part of social and economic sciences, some of our students do not have a basic understanding of the fundamental concepts, the central authors and the methods and instruments of this field. In fact, the students integrate the MSc. from many different previous BSc. studies, so they do not share a common background. Ex-cathedra lectures have been used for upgrading their knowledge, but this does not allow the accommodation and the consolidation of learning. (ii) Soft skills. Numerous MSc. students are not able to autonomously look after their learning, i.e. to evaluate their lacks of knowledge and to deepen their knowledge about specific subject without the surveillance and control of a teacher. Indeed, students do not seem able to build their own pedagogic projects starting from the proposed courses plans. So, we have to face a double challenge: to consolidate our students’ knowledge while diminishing the teaching time, and to build their motivation for an autonomous learning. For solving these problems, we propose the implementation of various tools. (i) Creation and online publishing of information sheets about the social sciences principal authors, paradigms and theories, especially when they have been applied to development studies. Globally, around 60 sheets will be created, among which 30 will concern specific themes and 30 specific authors. Thematic sheets will contain an introduction, a list of fundamental points / key words, an explanation of the theory and a bibliography / webography. Author sheets will contain an biography, a list of fundamental points / key words and a bibliography / webography on the author. (ii) Creation and online publishing of research proposals for the students seminar papers. Globally, around 60 propositions will be created, i.e. 2 propositions for each thematic sheet. The research proposals will contain an introduction, a research question, a list of key words, a list of links with one or multiple theories (mentioned in thematic sheets) and a bibliography. (iii) Creation and online publishing of students’ papers analysing case studies in a “Global South” context that have been realised by using a proposition from this project (cf. point ii) and that are linked to theories and paradigms in social sciences (cf. point i.). These contents will be published on an Internet website, accessible to MSc students but also to the other students, researchers and to the general public.