Joint course 2

Preparing field work in the tropics

Course objectives:
The aim is to impart a thorough understanding of the importance of field work preparation. This will be achieved through acquisition of in-depth factual location specific knowledge, building on theoretical knowledge obtained in other courses, relevant to tropical forestry issues and development of practical skills with emphasis on (i) ability to collect, analyse and evaluate appropriate qualitative and quantitative information, and combining this with (ii) choice of appropriate research tools in order to plan high quality field work.

Course contents:
The course is a preparatory course for the Sustainable Tropical Forestry Summer School: the focus is on developing a minor research project (that will then be implemented during the summer school taking place in a developing country). The course includes understanding of: the general environment in the country in which the subsequent summer school will take place, e.g. regarding natural resources management policies and forest types; training in locating and assessing white and grey literature on the research project topic; conducting critical online discussions as part of project preparation; preparing and analysing empirically oriented project synopses; selecting appropriate data collection instruments; finalising a field work project proposal. The course thus covers the entire research process until the implementation phase. Particular attention is paid to practical considerations in connection to field work, e.g. ethics, personal safely, training and managing enumerators.

Teaching and learning methods:
The course is provided through a web-based teaching and learning system. Students will apply concepts acquired during theoretical modules. Each student will participate in a supervised group; supervision will be provided by supervisors from participating European universities and co-supervisors from the hosting university (i.e. the university hosting the subsequent summer school). Each group will prepare a project proposal on a given research topic, and each student will assess the other groups synopses.

Each group will develop a research synopsis. Final grade will be based on (i) the research synopsis, and (ii) individual student peer-review of the other group ersearch synopsis (each student must prepare a 500 word/synopsis evaluation). Weight: Research synopsis (50%) and Review of the other group synopsis (50%). Internal examiner.

Competences acquired:
In-depth location specific factual knowledge; ability to collect, analyse and evaluation qualitative and quantitative information; ability to select and design relevant data collection instruments; ability to design coherent research project proposal; ability to reflect on risks and ethics in relation to data collection in developing countries.