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Capacity Building through Open Distance Learning: Environmental Engineering Courses
Dr. T.V. Ramachandra, FIE, FIEE (UK), FNIE obtained Ph.D. in Ecology and Energy from Indian Institute of Science. At present, Coordinator of Energy and Wetlands Research Group (EWRG), Convener of Environmental Information System (ENVIS) at Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES). During the past twenty years he has established an active school of research in the area of energy and environment (http://ces.iisc.ernet.in/energy). He is a member of Karnataka State Wetland Authority (2018..), Karnataka State Audit Advisory Committee. He was a Member of the Karnataka State level Environment Expert Appraisal Committee (2007-2010), appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India and a member of the Western Ghats task force appointed by the Government of Karnataka. Apart from this TVR is serving in many committees of NGT (National Green Tribunal) related to wetlands of Bangalore.
The rapid industrialisation of developing countries has led to a shortage of engineering personnel at all levels, including the industrial sector and infrastructure management. Five environmental engineering modules were developed during 2000 for open distance learning to teach working professionals to enhance environmental literacy at all levels through environmental education. As engineers play a vital role in the process of development, the World Federation of Engineering Organisations came up with its proposal for the World Engineering Partnership for Sustainable Development. This necessitated the development of Environmental Engineering Courses in Self Learning Format, taking advantage of recent developments in Information Technology, so that the Courses could be taught in distance mode. These courses with student relevant examples are directed at practising professionals in India and the developing Commonwealth countries for continuous professional development. The learning modules were developed based on the analysis of the target audience, instructional goals and objectives, and desired course content for India, followed by formative and summative evaluations. A formative evaluation was done by a project review committee and electronic list discussions. The summative assessment included validation and pilot testing and brainstorm sessions to ascertain the suitability of materials to meet the project goals and objectives. Based on these, internet-based course on environmental management is being offered through the Centre for Continuing Education at IISc during the past two decades (19 Sessions). Environmental education at all levels includes (i) environment education programme ‘Know Your Ecosystem’ through the network of schools and colleges (389 sessions), (ii) biennial lake symposium since 1998. A symposium focusing on lakes/wetlands popularly known as the “Lake Symposium” was initiated in 1998. The theme was broadened in 2000 (Lake 2000) with wider participation of education institutions, Governmental and non-governmental organisations, etc. The basic idea of the symposium is to bring out the trends in ecosystem conservation, restoration and management, including the hydrological, biophysical, people’s participation and the role of non-governmental, educational and governmental organisations and the future research needs.