In late July and early August of this year, the department of Forest and Environmental Economics under the College of Forest, Wildlife and Tourism hosted a Summer School programme ‘first summer and Field School’. The 10 days international programme was designed for students, academic staff and project officers under the WoodCluster Project whose overall objective is to Narrow the East African Wood Supply Gap through Research and Teaching for Farm-Wood-Production base national Bio-Economies with funding from the German ministry for Education (BFMF) to promote Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions within Sub‐Saharan Africa.
In attendance were personnel from the Hawassa University (Ethiopia), Technical University of Dresden (Germany), Makerere University (Uganda) and the hosts, Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania). The Summer and Field School activity served as an elaboration of teaching material and practical exercises as part of a newly elaborated postgraduate course to be implemented at all project partner universities, as one objective of the WoodCluster project. This is an account of the events by a Master student from the Sokoine University of Agriculture who is working on the research module as part of the WoodCluster project.
This summer I was lucky enough to attend the Summer and Field School hosted by the department of Forest and Environmental Economics under the College of Forest, Wildlife and Tourism. I can honestly say that I have never learned so much in such short space of time. During the 10 days period, we had the privilege of exchanging opinions, methodological approaches, country specific problems etc by experienced academic staff as well as other student researchers from the Hawassa University (Ethiopia), Technical University of Dresden (Germany) and Makerere University (Uganda). We also went for a field excursion which was informative as we got to see the importance of a socio-economic field laboratory first hand in finding the best solutions to farmer problems. Furthermore, the excursion exposed the role of participatory innovation platform in management of natural resources. The summer school ended with students presenting their concept notes which were an eye opener as different techniques where show cased by the Msc and PhD students.
The overall experience was amazing, the researchers shared their personal experiences with us, and we were able to discuss different topics affecting wood supply in East Africa and how the project can address some of these problems in a holistic approach.
It is not only the course and the taught material that I enjoyed I met a wonderful group of people and networked with researchers from different countries, got to understand the importance of research and teaching in narrowing the wood supply gap in East Africa as well as understand the unique approach of socio-economic field laboratories and participatory innovation platforms. I look forward to the next summer school to show case my applications of the fundamentals i have learnt from these 10 days and my research findings. I believe that plenty of other students will enjoy the experience and truly benefit from it; I hope the WoodCluster project continues to involve students in latter stages of the project as well.
By Kikolo Raphael Mwakasungula
Department of Forest and Environmental Economics
College of Forestry, Wildlife and Tourism,
Sokoine University of Agriculture.