International Summer Schools in the Time of Corona

During the worldwide Sars-CoV-2 pandemic, teaching at universities changed fundamentally within a few days. Lectures are recorded and uploaded to course management platforms, seminar talks are given online, and computer-based courses are held using teleconference software. The current situation becomes a worldwide experiment in distance teaching and learning, servers are upgraded in no time, and teachers and students learn how to use new software tools that they have never heard of before.

This also has an impact on the way summer schools are held, where 72 international participants and 15 instructors from 26 countries meet and talk about climate change (see figure for locations of participants and instructors). We will run our summer school with almost identical content as initially planned, but entirely online – virus free, low carbon footprint and less expensive. Particular attention will be paid to ensure the greatest possible interactivity of the participants, even if they cannot meet. For this we bring two further instructors into our team, who strengthen the area of didactics and communication.

The short concept remains essentially unchanged, since all instructors have agreed to carry out the summer school in an online version. The schedule also remains unchanged according to the current status, i.e. the online presence times correspond to the originally planned times. The two summer schools comprise three modules with duration of one week each, which will take place in the virtual space. During each of the weeks of the summer schools, 2–5 instructors will be available to contribute to the lectures, demonstrations, discussions and group works. Furthermore, the instructors are invited, similar to the participants, to give 12–15 minute conference-style presentations about their current research in the field of climate change.

A new element of the summer school is that the participants and instructors also document traces of climate changes in their immediate surroundings (Module 7). This documentation is also put online and discussed in the form of illustrated blogs, essays and audio / video podcasts. As far as possible, Module 8 will be carried out as planned, even if some of the proposed forms of teaching have to be adapted to the online version. An innovation in this module will be that we extract from the results of Module 7 a documentary that is intended for the public. It will be a great challenge when carefully selecting pictures and words to communicate climate change to weigh up how the effects will be for a lay audience whose interests and opinions differ widely.