One of the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) mission is to promote excellence in teaching, technology transfer and applied research. DUT academics like Professor Sanja Bauk (a lecturer and researcher at Maritime Studies Department, Faculty of Applied Sciences, is passionate about promoting excellence, especially for her work on Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL).
COIL was founded in 2006 by the State University of New York Professor Jon Rubin, as a model for fostering cross-cultural student competence through the development of multicultural learning environments that link University or college classes in different countries online.
Prof Bauk teaches Navigation Information Systems (ECDIS and Radar/ARPA courses at simulation level), Logistics 3 (at undergraduate studies) and Research Methodology (at postgraduate studies). Up to now she has successfully accomplished three COIL projects with her students through virtual engagements, i.e. two projects with Fatec Jahu University (Sao Paolo, Brazil) and one project with University of Colima (Colima, Mexico).
Speaking more on the 2020 COIL project, Prof Bauk said that students from DUT and Fatec Rio Preto (Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Brazil) have to create five short joint research reports on several sub-topics covered by the cited general one.
“This 2020 COIL project is entitled as: Comparing the effectiveness of renewable and nuclear energy sources in South Africa and Brazil including marine routes of nuclear ore, fuel and waste. Motivation for the project is found in the facts that both South Africa and Brazil are maritime countries and amongst the richest ones in the world when it comes to the deposits of uranium ore,” she said.
She further added that besides, nuclear energy is important in meeting growing society’s energy needs and it is reasonable to expect that sea transportation of radioactive ore, fuel and waste, as the cheapest and the most massive form of transportation, will be increasingly involved.
“However, we should be aware that nuclear power is a controversial energy source. The Chernobyl (Ukraine) in 1986 and Fukushima (Japan) in 2011 accidents have raised serious safety concerns. Consequently, several countries moved away from it, citing safety risks and financial costs. On another side, nuclear power advocates say it has green credentials, its carbon footprint is much smaller than other energy sources,” she said.
Prof Bauk stressed that additionally, nuclear power plants can create a basket or a portfolio of different energy sources resilient from security point of view.
“In the early days of nuclear power (early 50’s of the past century) people did not know much about climate change or that this new low carbon energy source could help address it. The thing is to steam climate change through producing far greater amounts of clean and reliable energy. Due to some sources, to tackle climate change, 80% of all electricity will need to be low carbon by 2050. Worldwide, nuclear power saves more than two billion tonnes of CO2 emissions each year,” she said.
Prof Bauk said that currently the COIL students from DUT and Fatec Rio Preto are working on these issues under the supervision of their professors. “Project outcomes will be archived and reused at least for the needs of forthcoming COIL projects,” she said.
Prof Bauk stressed the important role COIL projects play, adding that in general COIL projects are about enriching students’ international competences and communication skills; increasing the level of their digital literacy, engagement, creativity, critical thinking; fostering experimentation, research curiosity and creativity; team work; creating joint projects, etc.
“When it comes to lecturers, COILs support staff development, international and professional collaboration, interdisciplinary lecturing approaches, start of conversations that can lead to other forms of collaboration,” she said.
Prof Bauk indicated that within this particular COIL project, her key partners are Professor Edilene Gasparini Fernandes and Mr Osvaldo Junior Succi from Fatec.
“Seven Research Methodology students from DUT and eight Research on Agribusiness Issues students from Fatec (Faculty of Management of Agribusiness and on Business Oriented Computing) are involved into the project, along with two supporting professors from Fatec, Prof Adriana Generoso and Prof Eduardo Inacio,” she said.
Prof Bauk also said that during the current COVID-19 crisis, she and her team have been using email, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp and Trello, as the main web based platform for posting images, videos and documents.
“There are five nice videos on the Trello platform recorded by DUT and Fatec students about their universities and lives in South Africa and Brazil. I think they are great! Also, links to five Google Docs are available on Trello and students are currently working in mixed groups on these shared documents as their research reports,” she said.
Sharing her reflections on her experience, especially under the current pandemic, Prof Bauk added that personally, she is used to life in a kind of seclusion and since she has unfortunately some bad experiences from a real war, these current circumstances are bearable for her. “It seems that they are also liveable for my students. Colleagues from Brazil have problems with anxiety of both virus and economical crises, which is understandable, but they are currently going back to their regular living and working conditions,” she said.
In terms of Prof Bauk’s COIL project, she said that it is still an ongoing one and after its completion, she would have clearer picture of what her colleagues and herself should do with the deliverables.
“I see COIL projects at DUT as a way of nurturing academic freedom in the international environment and boosting students’ and lecturers’ creative potentials. Due to my experiences these projects are light spots of condensed creativity, joy and friendship. Of course, I would not like to diminish their educational and research dimensions. They are both present, as well,” she said.
Pictured: Professor Sanja Bauk, COIL students from DUT and her key partners from Fatec.