Four Earth Systems students travelled to Poland in June, where they joined students from universities of several different countries for the POLlution in the Coastal Areas (POLCA) Summer School organised by the Faculty of Oceanography and Geography at the University of Gdańsk. Cristina Macelli, Beppe Agius, Jan Proschek, and An-Nikol Vrazhalska are all reading for the Institute of Earth Systems’ B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems and have just completed the second year of their studies.
The programme of the POLCA summer school, which took place between 14 and 21 June 2023 at Hel Marine Station, included lectures, practical classes on the 49.5-metre Oceanograf research vessel, fieldwork along the shoreline and coastal rivers, laboratory work and virtual reality training, as well as collaborative work in interdisciplinary teams of six participants. Teams were supervised by academics from the University of Gdańsk, and each team was tasked with finding a solution to a complex problem related to pollution in the coastal areas of the Gulf of Gdańsk, with their results being presented at the end of the course.
Participants were able to gain valuable insights into the research conducted at the Marine Station, thus deepening their understanding of marine ecosystems and of the vulnerability of coastal habitats to the effects of pollution. Participating students also had the opportunity of visiting a seal sanctuary, and these experiences served to reinforce the students’ understanding of the importance of safeguarding coastal ecosystems and of the particular challenges posed by coastal pollution.
At the end of the summer school programme, the students were awarded a certificate to the value of 4 ECTS which will be included in their transcripts upon completion of their studies. All four students felt that the POLCA Summer School was an enriching and inspiring learning experience which not only broadened their knowledge but also opened doors to new experiences and perspectives that they wouldn't otherwise have encountered.