Virtual Academy Spotlight Hochschule Bremen: Air Pollution Control – A Comparison Between US and German Cities
The course Air Pollution Control, part of the UAS7 Virtual Academy, was a transatlantic cooperation between Bremen University of Applied Sciences and the University at Albany. The key goals of the joint course were to engage students in solving real-world air pollution problems through project-based learning. In doing so, they learned to foster collaboration, relationships and networks with fellow international students and their instructors. At Bremen University of Applied Sciences, the seminar was offered as an elective module for the degree programme Environmental Engineering. Students at Bremen University of Applied Sciences were thus given an insight into an area of environmental technology that had not previously been focused on at their own university.
The teaching project started in February 2021 with joint lectures with the lecturer Aynul Bari from the University at Albany. The lecture consisted of input by the lecturer, student assignments and content-related icebreakers.
Comparing the effects of the pandemic on Air Pollution in the US and Germany
The students’ main task was to conduct a case study on air pollution in two self-selected cities in the respective country of their university. The air quality during the Corona Lockdown was to be compared with the air quality exactly one year in advance. After finishing the data collection for the two cities in their home country, the students formed groups with a student from the partner university. In these groups, they were given the task of comparing the results of the US and German cities. The results were presented in assessed presentations to the entire seminar group. In some cities, a difference in air quality was clearly visible, in others the air quality hardly changed at all. The students came up with theses for their findings. After each presentation, questions were discussed.
Finally, in the last week of the class, the students gave another presentation to their fellow participants. Throughout the semester, they had the task of visiting and photographing places in their city that affect the city's air quality; photo journals were created from these and presented to the rest of the group. One student commented:
"This is a great chance for all of us. On the one hand, it allows me to get to know cities on the other side of the Atlantic, and on the other hand, I walked through my own city with completely different eyes."
Overall, thanks to their participation in the collaborative teaching project, the students gained important content knowledge, discovered new methodological tools and enjoyed a unique intercultural and digital experience.