The Research- Educational Centre “Water resources of Karelia and methods of their investigation”
Goals, tasks and necessity of the Educational-Scientific Centre (REC)
The Research-Educational Centre (REC) “Water resources of Karelia and methods of their investigation” was organized in NWPI in 2002 on the basis of previous wide environmental education activities of the institute using the teaching experience of its researchers and close co-operation with universities in Russia (Moscow and Saint-Petersburg) and, particularly, in Karelia within the Russian Academy of Science program “Support to young scientists”. The main idea is to prepare a highly qualified professional staff for scientific research institutions. This is however a complicated process which affects not only higher educational institutions but also secondary schools and the society at large.
The specific unique feature of NWPI REC is the continuity of the study process: school pupil - university student - postgraduate student - young scientist, with school teachers involved in the process as the basis for high-quality environmental education in schools. This closed circle of the study process gives the opportunity to monitor the results and coordinate the process to correspond to variations in the educational system and to the development of NWPI research activities. Moreover, it contributes to the formation of a new generation with an environment-friendly lifestyle and striving for sustainable development of the society.
From this point of view the main goal of NWPI REC is to conduct environmental education in co-operation with different partners preparing a highly educated young generation of scientists both for Higher Schools and Academy Scientific Institutions via the educational cycle: school – university - Higher school education/Academic scientific institution – teacher/researcher – school.
NWPI REC project aims at effective interaction between basic scientific research conducted at NWPI and the educational process at universities, taking into account the pre-university stage – schools, including teachers and final-grade students.
The goals of the REC project are:
NWPI potential for REC activities
|Research activity||Field surveys||Training||Co-operation|
|professionally qualified research team||scientific-research vessel “Ecolog” of the river-sea class with two laboratories||lecturing room with computer and office equipment||Internet capacities, own internal website|
|5 laboratories with modern analytical equipment||flowing water system, wide nautical capacities, modern navigation equipment||library of scientific literature, video films and computer databases||integrated collection of different software (ArcViewGIS, MapInfo, ERDAS, IDRISI, etc.)|
|Accredited by the Ministry for Science and Technology, Russian Federation||research station on Lake Vendyurskoe||icense for educational activities, training doctoral students||operating international cooperation network|
Partners in the co-operation
The main types of NWPI REC activities
participation (together with Karelian Regional Study Museum) in setting up water environmental exhibitions organization
Connection of research and education
NWPI REC activities have a binary effect on both the scientific part of the academic institution and on the education part of the higher educational institution. The study programs of the University can be changed in conformance with the possibilities offered by the scientific institute both theoretically and practically. New materials, results of investigations, methods and dataware of the institute can be used for study purposes of the university students, teachers and schoolchildren. This fact will raise the efficiency of the study process and interest in scientific work.
Results of field expeditions, study trips on the research vessel and laboratory analytic experiments are used by students for course, diploma and post-graduated papers and presented at students' conferences organized by NWPI REC.
To optimize NWPI REC activities, the “study pilot water object” – Lake Pryahzinskoe situated in the village of Pryazha village near Petrozavodsk – was chosen. NWPI in cooperation with Petrozavodsk State University and Karelian State Pedagogical University conducted multidisciplinary research including hydrological, hydrochemical, hydrobiological, hydrogeological, geo-ecological and toxicological investigations on Lake Pryazinskoe and in its watershed (Fig. 6). The samples gathered were analyzed in NWPI laboratories.
The results were presented by students in 2005 at the Republican research conference for young scientists “Water resources of Karelia: research, use, protection” organized at NWPI, and published in the conference proceedings. (Ìàòåðèàëû II Ðåñïóáëèêàíñêîé øêîëû-êîíôåðåíöèè ìîëîäûõ ó÷åíûõ «Âîäíàÿ ñðåäà Êàðåëèè: èññëåäîâàíèå, èñïîëüçîâàíèå, îõðàíà». 2006).
Lake Pryahzinskoe was chosen not by chance. This water-body is situated not far from Petrozavodsk. The lake and its watershed are not large that is convenient for organization of field expeditions, real-time interactions of research teams and fast gathering of results. This lake can also be used as a research model of the effect of different anthropogenic loadings on the water quality because of village population, agricultural and some industrial activities on its shores and nearby watershed area. This lake has been used as the source of water supply to the village population for a long time. At the moment, drawing upon NWPI results, ground water supply facilities are being constructed. Moreover, there is a large secondary school in the village, teachers and pupils of which are highly interested in environmental studies and ecological education. This well-studied water-body can be used as the model object for international education, too. The scientific material gathered is delivered to the local administration for decision-making, and presented, in suitable interpretation, in the local newspaper for raising public awareness.
Finally, the connection of students' studies and the real research process is achieved through preparation and presentation of joint scientific reports of students and researchers from NWPI at international seminars, conferences and workshops. This is a special aspect of training provided to students at NWPI, as an academic research institution, since the University, being an educational institution, pays little attention to this topic. The knowledge and experience thus obtained in this field will later help young schoolteachers properly organize research work with schoolchildren from the very beginning. A recent example is the International conference within the project “Lakepromo -Tools for water management and restoration processes” held in Petrozavodsk in 2006, where results on Lake Pryahzinskoe were presented.
Applications of international co-operation and TACIS program in NWPI environmental education and REC activity
* The co-operation with colleagues from Finland
The first international partner of NWPI in connection with environmental education is Kainuu Regional Environmental Centre in Finland. The environmental activity was started in 1996. So far, about 150 teachers took part in this program. This type of scientific co-operation between our organizations has been conducted for a while already. The results were published in 2001 in the book “Surface waters of the Kalevala and Kostamuksha areas under anthropogenic influence” (Kalevalan piirin ja Kostamuksen alueen pintavedet ja kuormituksen vaikutukset niihin. 2001).
There are some specific issues chosen for the environmental education project that are topical for Karelia and have been dealt with in Finland: water study, use and protection, drinking water, waste utilization, transboundary water objects and some others (T. Regerand, S.-L. Markkanen, M. Hänninen 2003).
On the other hand, there is a lot of forest on both sides, which is managed and protected in different ways. It is quite clear therefore that the co-operation in environmental education between Karelia and Finland is really needed. We have the same objective – to teach the new generation to understand that there are no boundaries in the environment, and that its protection is required for the safety of the population and for stable development in the region on both sides of the national border.
The first “Ecological days” event was organised in Finland in 1997. The Kainuu Regional Environment Centre organised a camp-school for teachers from Karelia. The main goal was to study and to understand the significance of environmental values and sensitivity in the educational process. It was also important to exchange the experiences of conducting environmental education in public schools in Karelia and Finland. It was also necessary to establish new connections and to plan future activities. This action led to the new contacts between teachers from Karelia and Finland.
In 1998, the Northern Water Problems Institute organised a summer camp-school at the “Vendyury” research station. The new activity of the environmental education project was successful and productive. Experts from the institute organised a high level “scientific immersion" for teachers from Karelia and Finland. During the summer camp-school, the teachers had the opportunity to become acquainted with different methods of field investigations, to get advice on organization of research and get their results processed.
According to the agreement on co-operation, which is very important for sustainable activity, environmental education is performed continuously up till now. Every second year NWPI REC has the opportunity to organize training for school teachers, students and young scientists in Finland, in the Kainuu Regional Environment Centre together with the “Friendship” National Park (fig. 7).
* ENFOLIA project
In 1998, environmental education activities were supported by the EU TACIS CBC facility project “Environmental education for schools in Karelia: Diversity of forests and lakes (ENFOLIA)”.
The main goal of the project was to raise professional environmental education skills of teachers in Karelia. NWPI scientists gave lectures on ecological investigations, modern environmental situation in Karelia and the problems of nature conservation. In addition, they provided advice to all teachers who needed help in ecological scientific work conducted at schools in order to prepare the best students for the higher educational system. The main idea was to support school teachers in their scientific work with pupils in schools and investigate the interest in science among schoolchildren – future university students. Various activities were organised during the project: seminars, lectures, meetings and camp-schools. Also, three study books were published, which have become real rarities by now. “ENFOLIA” project was evaluated as one of the best TACIS projects in that period.
* ECOPROMT project
The TACIS program was one of the possibilities to get financial support for environmental education activities. The next project organized by NWPI in 2002-2004 is called “People and environment - hand in hand for the future: education towards sustainable development in Karelia as a model for NW Russia. Elimination of public environmental illiteracy through local administrative structures is a right way to health, development and happiness (ECOPROMT)”.
The main goal of the project was to connect different levels and societal groups, such as schools, administrations, mass media, for environmental education development. In this project the main attention was directed to public environmental education proceeding from the point of view that enhancement of the public environmental education level and, especially in the younger generation, guarantees future sustainable development in the region.
Environmental education activities of NWPI have shown that it is possible for different partners to take part in such co-operation by doing their own part of the job, and so new partners are welcome. In Finland, schools and universities have vast experience in running ecological education and environmental centres have much experience in informing ordinary people in ecological matters. Information about the environment is very popular nowadays as the society attempts to move towards a more sustainable development. An important starting-point for environmental education should be factual scientific information, which can be obtained by real specialists or through scientific research. Only this information can be used for environmental education purposes, since it is processed and evaluated correctly and analysed from the scientific point of view. Moreover, academic institutes need to have researchers who know teaching methods and have the senses, feelings, wishes, talent and willingness to actively participate in this work.
* The co-operation with National Parks
A new idea was to use a protected area, for example a national park, as a partner in NWPI REC environmental education activities. To this end, co-operation with the “Vodlozersky” National Park is established. The role of National Parks in environmental education is vast. Protected areas are organised in the districts of Karelia where people live in the forest and use forest products, which are gifts of the nature. The “Vodlozersky” National Park conducts its own environmental education program, but our experience shows that join activities are incontestably more effective.
Since 2003, the NWPI REC has a new partner for the environmental education program – the “Koli” National park in Finland. The activity is going on in two directions: one-week training courses for secondary school teachers and students in the form of an environmental excursion and one-month training courses for young scientists – doctoral students from NWPI - with participation in the park's research activities. The possibility to visit this unique natural area within the framework of NWPI REC activities adds to potential for understanding sustainable development in the international context.
*Baltic University program and NWPI
A special remark must be mentioned on the role of BUP in NWPI REC activities. BUP gave a unique opportunity to enlarge and renovate our environmental education activities and to make them more interesting from the different points of view. The co-operation between NWPI and BUP was initiated in 1991. The “Baltic Sea Environment” course was adopted and enlarged by the regional components suitable for the school students and Karelian State Pedagogical University students. The special additional course and the study-book was prepared on the results of the GIS project “Geoinformation systems and their application for environmental investigations' (Petrozavodsk, 1997). After that the next BUP course “Sustainable Water Management” was developed in local aspect and implemented into the study program for students of the geographical department. The NWPI (N. Filatov) took part in the preparing of the BUP study-book “Sustainable water Management in the Baltic Sea Basin” (Ed. L.C. Lundin, Uppsala. Sweden. 1999. 183 p.) from the “Water in nature' series of lectures. The NWPI used wide experience of BUP activities preparing the study-book “Hydrophysics and ecology of lakes” (Moscow, 2002) together with State Moscow University.
Nowadays the co-operation of NWPI and BUP is going at the new convolution in the frame of REC using the previous experience. NWPI REC specialists give theoretical lectures on the basis of BUP courses integrated in the KSPU program taking into account the new environmental situation not only on the local level but thinking in the global scale. Practical studies of KSPU students at NWPI within the SRC framework are based on the material of BUP courses. Environmental education of school students and teachers with view to “professional orientation” of school students to environment-related future activity in different professions are organized as a BUP extra activity.
Researchers from NWPI, especially young scientists, enthusiastically take part in BUP actions (teachers' conferences, Internet sites and individual contacts). All the information received is used in practice in the NWPI environmental education program.
The results of international co-operation between institutions imply that there is a hope to educate a new generation which will have not only theoretical knowledge but also practical skills. And what is more important, representatives of this generation will understand the role and the place of people in the environment and thanks to this they will act in a scientifically correct way to ensure co-existence and well-being of both people and the environment.
Publications of NWPI REC on Environmental Education for Sustainable Development as the example of research results public dissemination
One of the priorities in educational activities for sustainable development is the dissemination of the results of scientific research by their publication in a popular form easily understood and useful for secondary schools, higher schools and a general readership. There are some examples:
* “Ecological investigations of Karelian natural waters”. Petrozavodsk. 1999. 108 p.
(the collection of articles gives the information on the drainage network of Karelia, employment of its water recourses, the modern condition of natural water-bodies in the republic's territory with the practical recommendations on organization of environmental monitoring and specific advice on implementation of scientific investigations at school)
*“The water environment of Karelia: research, management and conservation”. Petrozavodsk. 2003. 142 p.
(the review of Karelian surface water recourses, ground-water resources and their potential for water supply, the effects of logging, the species of zooplankton and higher aquatic vegetation in the republic's lakes with practical recommendations for research work organization using available materials and organisms, which will no doubt be of value to secondary schools and field camps).
* “Environmental education: from theory to practice”. Petrozavodsk. 2004. 127 p.
(the collection of different materials for promotion of public awareness and initiative in environmental issues and co-operation between specialists involved in environmental education, taking for example the public Environmental Education Centers organization under local administrations).
Water Resources of Republic of Karelia and their use for drinking water supply. Experience of Karelian-Finnish cooperation. 2006. Filatov N., Litvinenko A., Särkijoa A., Porttikivi R., Regerand T. (eds). Petrozavodsk: Northern Water Problems Institute. Karelian Research Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences; 263 p.
Proceeding of II Republic school-conference of young scientists ‘Karelian water environment: research, use, protection”. 2006. Petrozavodsk: Northern Water Problems Institute. Karelian Research Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences; 107 p.
Study of water objects and spatial natural complexes of Karelia. 2007. Petrozavodsk: Northern Water Problems Institute. Karelian Research Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences; 169 p.
Aquatic environment: an integrated approach study, conservation and use. 2008. Petrozavodsk. Northern Water Problems Institute. Karelian Research Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences; 155 p.
Proceeding of III Regional school-conference of young scientists “Aquatic environment and natural
spatial complexes: research, management, conservation” 2008. Petrozavodsk: Northern Water
Problems Institute. Karelian Research Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences. 256 p.
Aquatic environment: education for sustainable development. 2010. Petrozavodsk. Northern Water Problems Institute. Karelian Research Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences; 182 p.
There are also some practical booklets with schemes for construction, such as “Biotoilet - actual, modern and easy”, “Properly constructed well - good water in it”, “Composting – the basic tool for a clean garden”. This information has been widely disseminated to the society through mass media and local newspapers. It is quite understandable that the environmental situation cannot be improved instantly, but we hope that the results of our environmental education activity will become visible soon.
NWPI REC is a flexible facility connecting an Academy research institution and higher schools, involving additional partners including international ones. It provides favorable conditions for effective education for sustainable development. It gives plenty of opportunities for all partners, and by promoting environmental education benefits sustainable development not only in a specific region, but more widely – at the national and international scope.
NWPI REC has a future-oriented character, being opened to the new ideas and challengers.
Educational activities of NWPI are presented on the institute web page http://water.krc.karelia.ru