The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 4, Number 1, October. 2005

ISSN 1602-2297


Learning by Knowledge Networking across Cultures:
The Experience of Joint Courses in Environmental Studies for Malaysian and Danish Engineering and Science students


Arne Wangel
Department of Manufacturing Engineering & Management, Technical University of Denmark,
E-mail: aw@ipl.dtu.dk

Jens Stærdahl and Kirsten Bransholm Pedersen
Department of Environment, Technology and Social Studies, Roskilde University,
E-mail: jest@ruc.dk , kbp@ruc.dk

Maimon Abdullah
Faculty of Science and Technology, University Kebangsaan Malaysia,
E-mail: maimon@pkrisc.cc.ukm.my


Abstract: Engineers and planners working in trans-national production and aid project interventions in Third World countries must be able to ‘re-invent’ technological systems across cultures and plan and build the capacities of their counterparts.
A series of joint courses on cleaner production (CP) and environmental impact assessment (EIA) in Malaysia 1998-2003 has sought to address these needs for new competences. Differences in educational background and the work culture of the participants have presented difficulties during these courses, in particular in terms of achieving a mixed team building to turn some of the obstacles into resources for knowledge sharing. However, students have stressed their positive experience of cross-cultural communication.
While a joint course of three week duration by itself may involve only limited cross-cultural learning, serving primarily as an introduction to a long-term field study, the course efficiently initiates the involvement of the students into, and their interaction with, the socio-political and cultural context of the host country. Thus, learning across cultures requires a longer term process whereby mixed teams leave the classroom, collect data together in the field, negotiate and agree on the analysis, and sustain the exchange of knowledge, possibly through virtual peer-to-peer networking.


Keywords: Field courses, cross-cultural, environmental studies, problem-based learning.



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