The vision set out for the Centre is to educate a new generation of professionals to take a leading role in planning and implementation of the Green Shift. This will be achieved through the development and implementation of trans-disciplinary learning methods, which integrate academic thinking with professional methodologies and allow students as future professionals to break down sectoral barriers and act beyond disciplines.
Strengths and weaknesses
SITRAP is led by the Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning at NMBU and addresses an area of huge societal importance, namely the Green Shift. The leaders have assembled a wide-ranging coalition including NIBIO, Centre for the Study of Professions at HiOA, Finance Norway, the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture, the magazine KOTE, the Oslo Regional Alliance and the Centre for Continuing Education at NMBU. All these organisations could potentially play important roles in supporting SITRAP’s aims. However, the nature of the involvement of these various bodies has not been fully established. Greater clarity is needed about which bodies are formal partners and which are simply “interested parties”. There appeared to be some competing agendas within these potential partners and differing understandings of what SITRAP’s key purposes are.
There is strong support for SITRAP at senior levels within the management of NMBU. It was clear to the expert panel that there was significant potential for SITRAP, if successful in its SFU application, to have an impact across the institution beyond the lead department, in terms of raising the profile of excellent education. There was a definite will to make this happen.
The expert panel was pleased to learn of the consultation with students before drafting the proposal and that a small number of students had been involved in developing the proposal.
The value of breaking down sectoral and disciplinary barriers was clearly demonstrated by the proposal leaders. However further work is necessary to create a common understanding within the department and amongst the partners of the differences between inter-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary approaches. The expert panel was surprised to find low levels of awareness across the department of the fundamental ideas within the proposal and this gave serious concerns about the likelihood of eventual success.
The proposed arena for knowledge and experience sharing that is at the heart of Strategy 2 of the proposal forms a sound basis from which to start dissemination. Beyond this, there is a need for further work to ensure that dissemination actually achieves more than simply knowledge of what SITRAP is doing.
The expert panel found the suggested approach to evaluation to be quite limited in both its scope and its depth, and recommends that further work is needed to develop this into something that can make a real difference to the project.
Overall, although this proposal has significant potential, in the end it disappointed. The ideas at the heart of the proposal have considerable merit, but there is a need for further development work to, in particular, clarify the roles of different partners and secure much wider ownership of the proposed activities.