Gained unique experience with international master's thesis

Marta Obi collaborated with students from Sweden and Italy when she wrote her master's thesis. ECIU University gave her new friends, a trip to Hamburg and a wider professional field.

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Kvinnelig student foran grønn eng
Marta Obi. Foto: Kristin Horne

The master student from Poland studied urban planning at the University of Stavanger (UiS). When she was searching for topics for her master's thesis at the spring semester 2022, she came across the offer from ECIU University. The European university, which UiS is a part of, invited master's students from 12 countries to write a thesis on the same theme: climate-neutral university campuses.

«I wasn't quite sure what I was going to write about in the master, so this was a win-win situation for me. I was given a general theme through ECIU University, and my job was to narrow this theme down».

«Got to know each other well»

The semester began with a digital kick-off, so the students could get to know each other a little better. They were then divided into groups of three, depending on which topic they wanted to write about in the master. Her group chose to have weekly digital gatherings, which became a strength in their collaboration.

«We got to know each other very well and agreed early on that we wanted to help each other. Although we studied different subjects, we shared our knowledge and research with each other».

International environment

Marta wanted to write about the students' travel habits and chose to compare the University of Linköping with UiS. Her research question was: «Fostering sustainable travel behavior through physical environment».

For her, playing in the international environment of ECIU University became a strength.

«Participating in this challenge has really helped my master. Students from all over the world participated. I therefore chose to look at Linköpings’ campus because I had a fellow student there, as well as UiS, where I attended. Usually when you do a case study you only see one case, but by comparing two cases you can find both similarities and differences. You can also collect more data about why something works in one place, and not the other», she says.

Different travel habits

At first the two campuses seemed similar in terms of the physical environment, but the students' travel habits were, on the other hand, very different.

«The infrastructure in Linköping is generally much more advanced than in the region here. In Linköping, the distance from student housing to campus was shorter, and the terrain was more bicycle-friendly than here. There, almost 100 percent of the students cycled to campus. Here at UiS, most people drive a car or take the bus». 

She came to the conclusion that the main need is to improve the bus service, as well as to get more accessible electric bikes at campus.

«This seems like the most sustainable way of traveling in the region in terms of distance, landscape and weather,» she says.

Challenge-based learning

ECIU University wants to change the way education is provided, through Challenge Based Learning (CBL). This way of working was new to Marta.

«I don't think CBL is so different from what we do at the university. The difference is that we have supervisors and ‘teamchers’ who help us, but we have quite a lot of freedom. We had plenty of time to think for ourselves and work independently».

Went to Hamburg

During the semester, the participants traveled to Hamburg University of Technology to meet each other, and attend courses and workshops.

«In Hamburg, we took part in interactive tasks where we learned about communication, teamwork and pitching ideas. All of this was exciting and relevant in terms of studies and working life».

Micro courses and challenges

UiS is the Norwegian member of ECIU University, where students and researchers collaborate with working life to solve real challenges across Europe. ECIU University does not only have extensive challenges like this. Students from UiS can also take micro modules in special subjects and participate in challenges that last just one or a few days.

Marta is clear in her speech if anyone is considering joining a challenge from ECIU University:

«Just do it! You don't know what you're going to learn, who you're going to meet or how it's going to turn out».

Interested in being part of an ECIU challenge? Read more about ECIU University here.