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International Master’s Programme Tackles Climate Change in the Mediterranean

The first students of an international master’s degree programme in managing environmental and climate change in the Mediterranean Basin are impressing their lecturers with their energy.

The programme, known as MEHMed, involves eight universities in the Maghreb region and three in Europe. The project is part of the European Union’s Erasmus Plus programme. Its aim is to train university graduates who wish to specialize in the professional analysis and management of environmental problems specific to the Mediterranean basin.

Khaled Faudel, one of the lecturers on the course from Algeria’s University of Constantine 3, told Al-Fanar Media: “It is not yet possible to pass judgement on the programme because the students have not been tested in the workplace, but there are indications the project is succeeding because of the students’ eager approach to learning and research.”

Faudel said he hopes the governments of the six countries involved—Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia on the southern shore, and France, Italy and Spain in the north—will continue funding the programme through a possible expansion to a doctoral degree.

“The international master’s degree is the first of its kind to train environmental managers in the six countries”.

Latifa Boulahia
Coordinator of the project at Algeria’s University of Constantine 3

“The most important thing is that the graduates can use their knowledge in real life,” he said. “The project’s goal is to improve the environment in the Mediterranean basin. This will only come with concerted effort and governments helping the graduates because we all know the extent of environmental and climatic change around the Mediterranean.”

11 Universities, 6 Countries

Latifa Boulahia, coordinator of the project Constantine 3, said the international master’s degree is the first of its kind to train environmental managers in the six countries.

Spain’s University of Girona has the coordinating role. The other European participants are Italy’s University of Sassari, on Sardinia, and the Sorbonne, in Paris.

On the Maghreb side, the participating universities are Constantine 3, the University of Bordj Bou Arreridj, and the University of Mostaghanem, in Algeria; Morocco’s Mohamed I, Abdelmalek Essaadi and Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah Universities; and Tunisia’s Universities of Monastir and Sousse.

The master’s programme lasts four years, with two classes of two academic years each. There are 120 students from the six countries now enrolled in the first class.

international master's
Students participating the international master’s degree programme gathered in July at Algeria’s University of Constantine 3, one of 11 universities participating. (Photo via Facebook)

After two years, the graduates will receive a certificate with the signatures of all universities involved.

Boulahia said the participating universities were also discussing an international doctoral degree in the same subject.

Hatim Douadi, a lecturer in the programme from Tunisia’s University of Monastir, told Al-Fanar Media: “We are currently seeking to make the first step a success by producing high-end research. After that, a doctoral project is being considered, which I hope will be a great addition if it comes true.”

A Pivot to Distance Learning

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected attendance in each country. In Algeria, Boulahia said they had been using distance-learning, with in-person attendance every six months.

Belkhrachouch Ayoub, one of the students in the programme at Constantine 3, said: “Modern technology and social media have greatly contributed to the success of the international master’s degree.”

“The project’s goal is to improve the environment in the Mediterranean basin. This will only come with concerted effort and governments helping the graduates.”

Khaled Faudel
A lecturer in the course at the University of Constantine 3

Each subject in the course plays an important part in forming managers who can create a livable environment, Ayoub said. He and his fellow students study the interaction between environmental changes and human activity, and between environmental changes and nature. Other subjects include environmental chemistry and statistics, as well as English, technology and science.

For his practical project, Ayoub will work on recycling construction waste in a sustainable way. His project involves work on three levels: environmental, economic and social levels. The environmental level is to reduce emissions and toxic leaks from construction sites. The economic aspect is through recycling, and the social aspect is to create jobs.

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The project organisers adapt all study to the environment. Hatim Douadi teaches the scientific basis of climate change, water resource management, and clean technologies. Khaled Faudel supervises the teaching of the interactions between environmental changes and human activity.

The possibility of creating an international doctorate degree in the same discipline is the “shared hope” of all the professors and students, Faudel said.

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