Experiencing the Charms of Environmental Science Classes!

18 Apr 2024

The Department of Environmental and Health Sciences at the School of Sciences, XJTLU welcomed its first cohort of students in the MRes Environmental Sciences program in September of 2023. This program brings together a distinguished team of 21 supervisors who have achieved remarkable accomplishments in their respective fields, including ecology, environmental chemistry, physical geography, environmental management, and environmental engineering. The aim is to cultivate advanced talents in various areas of environmental science through a series of specialized courses and research projects over a period of two years.

The curriculum of this program encompasses interdisciplinary knowledge and skills relevant to environmental science. In order to facilitate students' rapid adaptation to the English language instructional environment and enhance their understanding of the learning content and application methods, the instructors have introduced various teaching methods such as flipped classrooms and role-playing.

In a module called Research Project Design and Management, Dr. Yuehan Dou expertly expounded on the art of conducting surveys and interviews. A master of pedagogy, she ingeniously assigned various roles to both teachers and students, encompassing the diverse personas of investors, tourism agency, NGOs, farmers, government officials, zoologists, researchers, and indigenous inhabitants. Researchers must design survey questionnaires and conduct in-depth interviews to explore the perspectives of these diverse stakeholder groups on the ecological quality of the inhabited island, as well as their willingness to participate in and invest in ecological restoration. This will aid external investors in their decision-making regarding investments in ecological restoration and environmental protection.

Role introduction

Students displayed exceptional imagination in their character portrayals. For instance, Siyuan Wang played the role of an animal conservationist from Oxford University who traveled thousands of miles to protect and study lemurs. Jingxiang Sun played an indigenous inhabitant who was a homeless but later won the lottery of $2 billion. Through cooperation with the government and animal protectionists, he established a foundation to protect the marine environment.

Questionnaire conduction

Students expressed their adoration for this form of edutainment. Hunkun Zhang articulated that role-playing allows students to analyze problems from a professional perspective, thus facilitating a better understanding of challenges in the field of environmental studies. Qianzi Dai opined that role-playing enhances the classroom's amusement and fosters a closer relationship between students and teachers. Hua Wen further believed that role-playing provides numerous possibilities, as it not only creates a realm of imagination but also considers practical issues. Through discussion and exchange, students can not only conjure up realms of imagination but also contemplate real-life quandaries.

Ongoing Interview

Furthermore, the instructors often employ the pedagogical strategy of flipped classrooms. For instance, Professor Johannes Knops offers a module entitled "Common Research Issues in Environmental Science," wherein he guides students to gradually uncover and identify these questions through the exploration of prevalent methodological issues. During the process of discourse, students actively participated by articulating their viewpoints, thereby guiding their peers towards further contemplation and discussion. The students unanimously expressed that this course not only assisted them in circumventing these issues while writing their papers, but also fostered the critical thinking by discouraging blind conformity to authoritative sources.

Ongoing discussion on research issues

Innovative teaching imbues our classrooms with vibrancy, elevating the initiative and engagement levels of our peers. Our team of educators shall persist in exploring an array of inventive pedagogical approaches, fostering superior learning experiences for our students.


Content and materials: Siyuan Wang and Bailiang Li

18 Apr 2024