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Out of the classroom and into the village

Students across disciplines were whisked away to Malaysia and Kenya to experience their studies firsthand

Crossing disciplines and cultures, students from the University of Copenhagen have experienced the lives of rural villagers in Kenya and Malaysia, and examined their challenges.

Each year, students from Sustainable Land Use and Resource Management (SLUSE) are whisked away from theory-filled lectures to experience the real lives of rural people in developing countries, and the challenges they face in sustainably managing land and natural resources.

This year’s batch of spent an intense two weeks in Kenyan and Malaysian villages along with counterparts from the University of Nairobi (Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies) and the University of Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).

“The exposure to how people from other disciplines think and what they see that you don’t see yourself – I think that’s quite revolutionary,” says Assistant Professor Thilde Bech Bruun, the SLUSE coordinator.

Connecting on the ground

Since 1998, the SLUSE joint field course, Interdisciplinary Land Use and Natural Resource Management (ILURM), has been co-organised by the University of Copenhagen, Roskilde University and partner universities in Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, and Kenya. Students gain practical fieldwork skills, and are challenged to collaborate beyond the boundaries of their academic and cultural experience.

“The minute someone calls them, they will actually get up from their seat and go there, where the person is experiencing the issue,” says Professor Kiama Gitahi, Director of the Wangari Maathai Institute.

Professor Gitahi calls the training “transformative”. He thinks it will spur students to connect with people on the ground.

See the photos

You can follow the students’ field experiences in the photo stories:

Photo story: Welcome to the ‘kampung’ in Sarawak, Malaysia
Photo story: Farming, forestry and motorcycle taxis in Kenya

You can see our previous photos and and articles from previous SLUSE courses, Ready for »uncomfortable« work in Asia and Africa, here, and No phones, no net: We are in a Borneo village, here.

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