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The University of Coimbra leads Erasmus project on Sustainable and Wise Use of Geological Resources in the African Portuguese-speaking Countries



Photo: © UC | François Fernandes

The University of Coimbra (UC) was awarded with a Erasmus+ Capacity Building in Higher Education grant to lead the project “SUGERE - Sustainable Sustainability and Wise Use of Geological Resources”. The project is coordinated by Nelson Rodrigues, Professor at the Earth Sciences Department of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC). UC is going to receive around 1 million euro to develop earth sciences in three African Portuguese-speaking Countries.

SUGERE aims at developing five degree programmes (three bachelors, one master and one doctorate) in the field of earth sciences in the partner universities from Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique. “Our goal is to implement programmes that focus on three key areas: knowledge about earth sciences (geology, geological engineering, and mining engineering), skills related to sustainable environmental development, and ethics and social economics. The ultimate goal is to motivate both students and teachers to play a decisive role in the development of their countries”, says Professor Nelson Rodrigues.

The Erasmus+ Capacity Building programme, created in 2014, aims at incentivizing the European universities to share knowledge with higher education institutions from other continents. In this year edition, for the first time, the European Commission approved a project coordinated by the University of Coimbra, which has been a partner institution in nine other Capacity Building projects over the years. “This is our first great project that uses the opportunities created by the Erasmus programme to establish capacity building partnerships with non-EU partner institutions. Following a strategic investment of two years, the University of Coimbra organised its services to provide technical support and tailored training to the professors and researchers interested in this type of funding opportunities, and this is our first relevant output”, underlines the Vice-Rector, Joaquim Ramos de Carvalho.

For the Earth Sciences Department of FCTUC, the approval of the SUGERE project confirms the international prestige of its competences and the value of its researchers and academic staff – the result of several years of strategic cooperation with Portuguese-speaking institutions, such as the Geosciences Schools Group: José Bonifácio d’Andrada e Silva.  “We are very much keen on creating strong research and training networks between European and non-European universities, which boost the role of the earth sciences’ discipline and professionals, the scientific knowledge, the sustainable management of resources and the economic development, and importance of the institutional capacity building”, states Alexandre Tavares, the Department Director.

The philosophy of the project – approved with the highest grade (excellent) – is very well summed up in its title: Sustainable Sustainability and Wise Use of Geological Resources. “We don’t want to impose any models. The idea is to create integrated forms of sharing knowledge and training best practices. That is what the title suggests. We also want that this project generates relevant lessons for the future”, Nelson Rodrigues adds. For that reason – using an innovative approach in this type of initiatives – the evaluation of the project will be done by one of the partners outside Europe: the University of Santiago in Cape Verde.

The University of Cape Verde, the University of Agostinho Neto, the Polytechnic Institute of Tundavala (both from Angola), the Science and Technology Institute of Mozambique and the University of Eduardo Mondlane (also from Mozambique) are the other African partners. The European partners of the SUGERE project, coordinated by the UC Earth Sciences Department, are the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra, the University of Salamanca in Spain and the University of Turin in Italy. They are going to collaborate in the development and implementation process of the degree programmes in Geology, Geological and Mining Engineering as well as in the capacity building of the African partner institutions.