Discussion on a new interdysciplinary Master Course in School of Natural Sciences

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On the 8th of June, a meeting was organized at the level of the School of Natural Sciences, that gathered representatives of professors, lecturers, and students representing the Faculty of Biology and Faculty of Geographical and Geological Sciences. The objective of the meeting was to make the first step towards a new interdisciplinary and international (English taught) master degree course. During the fruitful discussion a number points of view were presented on potential target students (national vs international), style of teaching (e.g. tutoring, practical activities, research-based learning), expected profile of graduated students (specialist vs an open-minded person with holistic education). After consideration of common strong research directions at both faculties, as well as already existing courses it was suggested that the new master degree course should be focused on Bio-Geo-Hazards (or Natural Hazards) and ongoing Climate Change / Global Change issues and should take into account problems of human adaptation to the climate changes, ecological and economic consequences of the recent warming, and various hazards mitigation strategies. The course should be conducted following a holistic approach, taking into account ongoing biological, physical, and chemical processes, their spatial and temporal changes, as well as related to human activity, disappearing ecosystems, habitats, and species loss. Many hazards are altered due to climate change (e.g. increased frequency and magnitude of hurricanes, the release of new pathogenic viruses, bacteria and fungi from the cryosphere). We need to learn about past disasters, their effects on global geobiochemical cycles and evolution of life, and present hazards in order to be able to avoid or at least mitigate future catastrophes.