WIL Leadership Vignette 17:
Associate Professor Barry Meehan
What was learned from this:
We believe the model for the project demonstrates that multi-disciplinary teamwork fits well into environmental projects, and importantly that the experiences are recognised by students as being valuable preparation for their environment professions. While they had not yet entered professional work, the student feedback has demonstrated that they have learnt many skills that would be of direct importance to them in a multi-disciplinary professional workplace. The feedback processes built into the project design have been a key factor and will continue to provide directions for improvements and assist in capacity building efforts for other staff. Further information at: http://www.rmit.edu.au/appliedsciences/vietnam
Context of the event, experience or activity:
The undergraduate Vietnam project was initiated in 2002 and involves a team of students drawn from environment related programs in different disciplines at RMIT University in Melbourne. Each year the student team undertakes a research project investigating an issue relating to sustainable development in Vietnam.
Description of the event, experience or activity:
This multi-disciplinary approach overlays exposure to an international context with project development, research and communication skills in a manner akin to working as an environment professional. The project has three main components, including: the selection of students and planning in Melbourne; data collection in Vietnam; and reporting to both the project clients in Vietnam and the participating schools in Melbourne. The project helps develop intercultural and personal awareness by enabling students to work and engage in an international setting, while operating within a professional team that is under pressure to complete a research project for a local client.
In early projects we realised the need to concentrate on teamwork skills and team organisation in the pre-departure briefings. This has steadily evolved into an effective series of workshops that also include sessions involving previous project participants giving their feedback on what worked well and what didn't. Our experience has also enabled us to better focus these sessions to better equip the team to work effectively and cohesively together. In addition to these weekly meetings in each year of the program we have conducted an intensive one day workshop which largely focusses on the research plan and project management. This has had the effect of producing recent teams that are much better prepared for beginning the data collection stages of the project when they arrive in Vietnam.
Associate Professor Barry Meehan is in the School of Applied Sciences at RMIT University.