Earthwatch teams up with the Open University
A collaboration between Earthwatch and the Open University (OU) in the UK will mean that students enrolled in an Open University course will be able to get full accreditation for their Earthwatch experience.
Dr. Hazel Rymer of the Open University leads Earthwatch research into the effects of acid rain, volcanic smog, and other volcanic side effects on the soil, water and wildlife near two active volcanoes in Nicaragua.
Dr. Rymer says: "This year over 30 Open University students have volunteered on our volcano expedition to Masaya volcano, Nicaragua. In previous years, students have used this fieldwork experience in their OU studies in modules as diverse as creative writing and geohazards. We are now looking to formalize this arrangement, so that any final year science project can build on experience gained on any suitable Earthwatch expedition. This is a very exciting opportunity both for the OU and Earthwatch as volunteers can become students and students can become volunteers."
While the Open University, which started in 1969, is by far the largest university in the UK, with high ranks for student satisfaction year after year, many students are located overseas, particularly in Europe. All the OU's MSc science courses are already available globally and some new awards are now available, including the MSc in Professional Science which has been accredited by the US Council of Graduate Schools' Professional Science Masters.
Dr Rymer adds: "Students study in their own time and using materials we send or make available online. They study together using our extensive synchronous and asynchronous supported online forums. Our BSc Natural Science award is fully compliant with the European Bologna accord and OU credit is transferable to other universities throughout Europe. We intend that from October 2010 the BSc Natural Science will be available globally and not only in the UK and Europe. This will enable students located anywhere in the world to gain a UK university degree and we are developing ways in which using the Earthwatch expedition experience can count towards their credit."
Earthwatch Director of Volunteer Programs James Fry says: "It has always been one of our goals to provide academic credit opportunities to our Earthwatch volunteers based in Europe. Now through this agreement we can offer it to our global audience as well. We are looking forward to working closely with the Open University on a number of initiatives in the months ahead that will not only enhance our in-field data collection and learning, but will also potentially provide powerful new virtual learning platforms to spread the reach of our mission, and provide the Open University with new students from our international volunteer base."
Join in the research by volunteering on the Earthwatch expedition Volcanology and Ecology in Nicaragua.