8th - 17th April, 1997
Summary, Comparison, Tutorials, Assignments, Site Visits, Conclusions
The Associates (Cohort 5) gathered for the second residential course at the Internationales Begnungszentrum in St.Marienthal, Ostritz, Germany, from the 8th - 17th April, 1997. The general theme of the course was East - West relations in the particular context of environmental conditions of the "Black Triangle", the border region between the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. The course included tutorials, site visits and status reports on the individual study assignments of the Associates.
The findings of the independent evaluation of the Geneva residential course were taken into account in designing the St. Marienthal course: increase in the general participation of the Associates, strengthening of the Associate's networking potential and attention to the specific needs of the Associates.
Each Associate had chosen an individual study assignment, with advice from the LEAD staff and two days were given to presentations of these. The discussions between the Associates following the presentations, helped to improve the Associate network. The presentations were generally of a high standard, allowing the group to improve their understanding of the topic presented and elucidate new cross-linking interests that could be developed. Following the discussion of the assignments, 9 Associates confirmed their topics, the other 8 Associates identified some modifications.
During the final discussion of the course itself, the Associates indicated that the site visits were a success and should be judged an essential part of such courses. They suggested more thorough preparation was required to help the Associates anticipate the key issues involved and the discussion of the visits afterwards within the group in order to consolidate the insight gained.
The major results from the questionnaires used for assessment of the course elements by the Associates are the higher grading given to the combination of the visits and the tutorials. This result confirms the overall design of the course, but there is still a difficulty of identifying the most appropriate tutors; arrangements for the site visits need to be given more preparation. A detailed analysis of the benefit to the Associates should be used to further focus the course content in order to allow more time for discussion.
The Associate's acknowledgement of the appropriate choice and high quality of the tutors, confirmed for Geneva by the external evaluators, was maintained in St. Marienthal. The Associates reacted in great detail to the content as well as the form of the presentations given. The tutors' and the Associates' presentations were mainly complementary, the lesson learnt at Geneva regarding the Associates' "co-ownership" of the process was undoubtedly addressed and the co-ownership improved. Despite this lesson, the level of exchange between the Associates and the tutors was not always as intensive as expected.
Without an external evaluation for St. Marienthal, the comparison can be based on the responses by the Associates to the evaluation questionnaires. The differences between the Associates in their average appreciation of the whole session were 50 % smaller at St. Marienthal. Those Associates which gave Geneva sessions higher grading gave St.Marienthal rather lower ones and vice versa. These two results indicate that St. Marienthal was considerable closer to their interests as a group and that there no single Associate who would have general difficulties. Finally, there appeared an age differential in the average appreciation: those who gave St. Marienthal higher grading were generally the older Associates, which might reflect the more practical nature of the course content compared to Geneva.
The first day of tutorials, after the first site visits, introduced the Associates to current practices of environmental audits and life-cycle analysis. The environmental audit tutorial was well received, even though the integration of auditing into overall plant management was not stressed. The Associates appreciated the practical advice. The presentation of the current use and future potential of life-cycle analysis (LCA) was more difficult to follow. Questions concerned notably the decision making context in which LCA can be effective. Such a complex subject should be in the future prepared by focused reading material prior to the session, possibly with some means of verifying whether the Associates have undertaken it. The average appreciation of the tutorial was the lowest.
The second day of tutorials started with an analysis of the European Environmental Agency's record and future objectives. Links between the current tasks for research and institutional efforts within the EU were presented. This produced pointed questions from the Associates completing the tutorial with discussion of the differences between the state of the environment in different countries. This was supplemented with an overview of the environmental legislation in the EU. This analysis allowed added understanding of the topic of EU enlargement, Anja Köhne's assignment. The NGO Associates reflected critically on the environmental agenda in their countries. Evidently most of the critical decisions for EU enlargement are felt to need a much broader public debate in order to assess potential policy action in these areas.
The tutorial on an integrated approach to environmental acidification started with an overview of soil chemistry and many questions of comprehension were raised. The gradual acceptance of the severity of acidification was documented, outlining the advancing of scientific research. The UN-ECE role leading to the Helsinki and the Oslo Protocols on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution was described. Finally the conditions for exceedence minimisation strategies were identified. A comparison of different regions of the world and the rapidly deteriorating situation in many developing country regions were addressed.
The more issue-focused presentations were graded similarly to the more research oriented ones. The grades should not be taken as sole indicators, because Associates reacted strongly to the rhetoric of these presentations and discussed the more general aspects of the overall argumentation amongst themselves. Associates related to industry were keen to emphasize their appreciation, in contrast to the NGO Associates.
At the first residential training course in October 1996 in Geneva, the European Associates identified study assignments addressing their current professional interests while incorporating new approaches to these questions. After five months of data gathering, advice from LEAD staff and discussion within the group, each Associate presented the preliminary results.
Two full days were spent assessing these assignments, under the guidance of Prof. Gordon Goodman. This occasion allowed a much better understanding of the professional needs and strengths amongst the Associates to be developed. It is anticipated that this will be instrumental in stimulating the networking within the group (and there is now evidence that it has done so).
Four of the assignments are in a stage of further definition regarding the orientation of the assignment (Dorota Chmielowiec, Tomas Ruzicka, Hans Smeets, and Corneliu Constantinoaia). Three can be considered as progressing towards a conclusion and new assignments will be undertaken (Imre Biczo, Stavroula Pouli and Marina Symvoulidou). Ten are proceeding after having been sufficiently defined and can result in substantial resource documentation: Anja Köhne, Marina Wagner, Stratis Telloglou, Yorgos Papafotiou, Boris Petkov, Anders Hagfeldt, Boris Strecansky, Paul Papadopoulos, Volker Angres. Overall, the level of questioning of each Associate's professional biases occurred to very different extents. Throughout the proceeding assignments this necessity to question effectively pre-conceived notions should be reinforced.
The choice of the site visits was dictated by the East - West focus of the course and the choice of the main environmental themes addressed: waste management, environmental management on a plant level and energy related air pollution. The site visits covered the different themes but did not allow specific East - West comparisons to be made immediately. With hindsight, this compromise should be judged as workable.
The site visit to the landfill and to the packaging waste separation plant introduced waste management without any previous preparation by tutors. Many Associates considered for the first time waste management problems at the practical level in their countries and discussed the basic parameters. For example incineration of all solid waste in Switzerland was aired. Two such visits in one morning are feasible, given the immediate learning element. A short presentation by a local NGO over lunch was instructive concerning the commitment of NGOs in the Czech Republic to environmental matters and their overall understanding of the issues involved.
The visit to the Spolchemie plant in the afternoon was less illustrative, but the evaluation questionnaire reveals that the average appreciation of the Associates was higher for Spolchemie than for the landfill. The Associates therefore appreciated the presentation of the complexity of plant management under economic transition. More time would have been necessary for a visit to the plant and to further understand the plant management's practices. One Associate queried the possibility of Spolchemie complying with the planned Seveso II Directive, thus introducing the subject to the other Associates. Observing the current practice in industry in Germany and in the Czech Republic created several proposals for potential products of the LEAD programme.
The visits to the coal mine and the power plant in Turów proved also to be too time- constrained to allow the Associates to formulate competent questions except for the process parameters of the fluidized bed combustion system. Other operational data from the power plant re-emerged during the following days, when other tutors alluded to the matter and some conclusions were then drawn. The visit to the forest with acid rain damage and recent efforts in reforestation was hampered by bad weather and the necessity to view sites only from the coach.
The final visit to the Joint Implementation project in the district heating system of Dêcín was as illustrative as the visits to the waste management sites. Despite of the short visit, many Associates asked questions about technical details. The later presentation of the institutional history of this project benefited strongly from reference to this site. Both the waste management and the Joint Implementation site benefited from the limited size of the installations, helping Associates to understand the scope and operation of the whole system.
The second residential course at St. Marienthal was designed to profit from the assessment and experience of the first residential course in Geneva and to be complementary in the subject content. The extra time given for Associates to make presentations and interact with their fellow Associates can be judged to have worked reasonably well. Also partially successful was the attempt to allow more time for discussion in tutorials and during the programme generally. LEAD-Europe staff still need to give this more consideration.
The "focus" of the St. Marienthal course was successful in giving an overall context to the course. The various tutorials linked together reasonably well, the slightly greater emphasis on practical issues and a somewhat greater effort to target skills-related topics were relatively successful. The linking of pre-course reading, tutorial presentations and site visits was also a success but can be judged not to have exploited the full potential of this "case-study-oriented" approach. Such an approach needs further expert nurturing for future courses to realise its full potential.
In spite of the careful and detailed briefing of tutors some still are unable to implement a completely appropriate style or topic approach with the varied professional experience represented by a LEAD group. As time progresses a roster of the more successful exponents in the LEAD setting will be build up, judged not only on the gradings of the Associates but also on other criteria. Staff judgement does not always support the notion that a little of what Associates fancy does them good.
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