Summer School ICRPS 2011 in Norway: about the group project

From: Meng, Xiangdan ( 

From June 25 to July 10, 2011, I attended the ICRPS (international comparative rural policy studies) Summer Institute in Norway. It is a good chance to know more things about OECD countries, especially rural policies from the comparative perspective.
The summer institute covered some general themes, such as making policies for sustainability, sustainable rural communities and research and analysis methods. We also discussed some Nordic topics about Nordic rural, regional and districts policy, farming and forestry, nature based tourism, renewable energy, and ecological approaches to sustainable development.
These lectures and discussion helped me understand the general situation and also helped me consider some similar issues in my own country, China. However, the most impressive part for me is the project work, which is an effective way to use what you learn. In this summer institute, all the students and professors were divided into 7 groups, which cover seven topics in Sogn og Fjordane in Norway. The seven topics are social structure and change, government and governance, tourism (based on nature and culture), renewable energy and local development, mitigation of climate emissions and new policy initiatives, new direction for farming and food in a challenging environment, and information and communications.
To understand these basic issues is basic thing, but how to use the comparative cases you know or examples from your own country to apply some ideas to Sogn og Fjordane in Norway is more important in my opinion. For example, there were four students (two from America and one from Norway) and four faculty (two from America and two from Canada) in my group, the “social structure and change group”. Based on some demography and policy review, we decided to focus on how to absorb the youth, high-educated women and immigrants to Sogn og Fjordane. The students played the main role of discussion and writing the chapter under the supervision of the faculty. Later, the chapters we wrote can be published as a book. It is really a good way to understand the policies and situation there and also a nice brainstorming method to consider things comparatively.
In addition, you can use the spare time to discuss you own topic with the faculty. Although not always helpful, it is nice to know and keep contact with more academic people by using this network. Many professors told me Wageningen Universiy is a very important university for ICRPS, they really hope more faculty and students from Wageningen could attend the next ICRPS. If you want to know more things about the ICRPS 2011, please see this website: The next ICRPS 2012 will be in Canada.