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INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research

Research and Education Partnership in Climate Change Impacts on Terrestrial Ecosystems

Alternative title: Partnerskap for forskning og utdanning på klimaendringenes påvirkning på naturen i fjellet

Awarded: NOK 4.5 mill.

Climatic changes and their impacts on nature and people are posing new and pressing challenges for science and society. The climate and nature crises - as well as their solutions - cross traditional disciplinary, sectorial, and national borders, and so integrated and collaborative efforts are required to effectively address them. RECITE builds on a conviction that a potentially powerful yet underexploited key to achieve this is, simply put, to bring science and education more closely together. RECITE therefore explores, develops, and tests a variety of student-active research experiences focusing on how such experiences can be used as a learning arena to promote critical skills and competences while contributing to the science needed to address the climate and nature crisis. By participating in ‘real’ research students can gain knowledge and hands-on experience with relevant scientific theories and practices, and they can acquire key skills in collaboration, team work, and project and data management. By moving beyond classical learning arenas to actively participate in ‘real’ research the students can also gain access to a wider variety of outcomes, augmenting course credits and grades with certification in scientific methods and participation in production of research outcomes. To create meaningful and effective student research experiences, we coordinate research across partners and offer internal and external students, from BSc to PhD, experience in climate-related research, training, and work placements. An important part of RECITE has been to organize the Plant Functional Traits Courses (PFTC) in China, Peru, Western Norway, Svalbard, offering hands-on training in trait-based ecology to more than 100 students from 25 countries. Through individual research internships, 60 international students have participated in the research conducted in our research groups and home institutions. Based on these student research experiences, we have collected and published unique trait-related data from five mountain regions globally, as well as data on the student research experiences. We are thus contributing new knowledge plant functional trait responses to climate change, as well as improved understanding of how we can better support student learning in real research settings. The RECITE partners include Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research; the University Centre at Svalbard, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chengdu, the University of Arizona, and the University of Minnesota.

Outcomes: - We have developed the International Plant Functional Traits Course (PFTC) taught the course four times - 105 student s form 62 institutions in 25 countries have participated in the courses, receiving hands-on training in plant functional trait-based ecology - Students have been involved in science communication - 60 students from WWW countries have visited our labs for research internships - We have produced collaborative research papers, R packages, communication, and outreach - We have held 6 research workshops We have developed course and teaching material Impacts: - A large and international group of students have gained training and international research practice experience in plant functional traits ecology and best-practice data workflows - We have built and maintained an active and visible network of 140 plant functional trait ecologists from 33 nationalities - We have developed, implemented, documented and shared better practices around student research experiences - We are producing new knowledge and comparative data on trait responses along altitudinal gradients in five mountain ranges on four continents

The scientific and societal challenges arising from climate change and its impacts on ecosystems demand an international collaborative effort to develop the research and education needed to meet these challenges. RECITE brings together five partner institutions across Norway (University of Bergen; Uni Research; The University Centre at Svalbard), China (Chinese Academy of Sciences), and USA (University of Arizona) in a collaborative effort to develop strong international research and educational methods and outputs. The overarching goal of RECITE is to support the partner institutions in becoming leaders in internationally collaborative climate change research and education by coordinating research efforts and offering students international experience in climate-related research, training, and exchange. RECITE will i) strengthen climate change research and educational collaboration on an international level, ii) train students at all levels of higher education in climate science, iii) develop and implement in programs courses that offer relevant research, workplace, and international experience, iv) exploit the potential in the consortium for high-impact collaborative research, v) build towards a future research cluster involving all research partners, and vi) disseminate results and lessons from students and staff collaborative work and experience. RECITE will provide unique and high-quality opportunity for support in different aspects of climate research and education. We will train students, do new research, engage in scientific collaboration, and, as the most novel aspect, we will experiment with, build knowledge on the impact of international internship experience on student motivation and learning, and implement such experiences in our programs. We will disseminate widely. Challenges are minimal and can be effectively mitigated as RECITE builds on top expertise in all relevant fields and a history of successful collaboration between the partners.

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Funding scheme:

INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research