What educational approaches for training future bioeconomy experts?

Friday 26 May 2023

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To effectively support the green transition, it is necessary to develop an educational and training approach to the bioeconomy that is interdisciplinary, multi-sectoral, practical and adequate to deal with today’s unsustainable economic processes.

RELIEF partners are in the process to establishing two training curricula for university students and professionals in the rural bioeconomy sector.

The 1st Progress Meeting of the project, hosted by the University of Florence, Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry the 9th and 10th of May 2023, was an opportunity to share the results of some project activities that have been completed, such as the Critical review of the current practices of bioeconomy education and training, and to initiate an exchange of ideas and co-design of the two RELIEF training curricula.

The Critical review of the current practices of bioeconomy education and training analysed 4 different teaching and training approachs related to the bioeconomy in the EU and provided some reccomandation for future programmes.

In recent years, many HEIs developed bachelor’s, master’s/postgraduate, and PhD programs on the topic. These programs share common characteristics, they often have an interdisciplinary approach, connecting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and SSH (Social Sciences and Humanities) disciplines, they sometimes focus on the bioeconomy as a whole or on a specific bioeconomy-related themes, they prioritize an academic approach and lastly, the predominant teaching and learning methods used are classroom/lecture-based formats. Looking at the VET (Vocational Education and Training) offer, VET programs in the bioeconomy domain focus on specific themes, prioritize practical skills training, and typically involve hands-on learning activities, leading to the award of a certificate upon completion. Two more types of approaches where analysed. The short-term education and training approaches in the bioeconomy, which involve workshops, short courses, and SME training. They aim to share knowledge or develop specific skills, adopt diverse learning methods, have a short duration, and involve different organizations as providers and supporters. And lastly the other approaches to bioeconomy education, which are informal and independent of educational institutions. They emphasize individual and lifelong learning, utilize open-source data, and employ diverse techniques such as on-the-job training, participatory learning, mentoring, self-learning through audio-visual materials, and discussions with stakeholders.

To reflect the essence of bioeconomy the existing education and training approaches in this field need to be transformed and new ones need to be developed to effectively train individuals for a sustainable bioeconomy – the bioeconomists.

In summary, bioeconomy educational programs should be innovative, interdisciplinary, and open to improvements. They need to include various learning methods and respond to the demands of a changing economy.

Another important part of the research conducted by RELIEF partners also includes identifying the training needs of university students, farmers and agricultural consultants, as well as gathering the views of VET providers, universities and policy makers on current and desired training offer. The results will be presented in the report ‘Analysis of training in Bioeconomy in farming sector’ and contribute to building the two training curricula of Relief.

The second part of the meeting was in fact dedicated to a workshop to define the structure of each of the two curricula, at university and vocational level. The first one will be organized in modules dedicated to bioeconomy and to the development of transversal skills with learning units of 3 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System). Whereas the VET course mirrors the structure of the HEI courses, but adopts a more practical approach and it is structured in modules, each of which consists of learning units of 1 ECTS.

To stay up-to-date on the development of the RELIEF education and training curricula and other project activities:

Visit the website RELIEF.uop.gr/

About the project

RELIEF – euRopean bio-Economy aLliancE in Farming is co-funded by Erasmus+ programme, Partnership for Innovation, Alliances for Education and Enterprises.

Partners

For further information

Read more about Relief, visit the website https://relief.uop.gr/ and follow us on Facebook and Linkedin.

Contact Caterina Impastato, caterina.impastato@cesie.org.

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