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Freiburg-Penn State Virtual Classroom Award [in English]

For the first time, the comprehensive partners University of Freiburg and Penn State University have conferred the Freiburg-Penn State Virtual Classroom Award to outstanding and innovative projects which involve digital components in learning and teaching. Due to the high quality and competitiveness of all applications submitted in this first call for applications, two project teams have been selected in 2020. Starting at the beginning of this year, both teams will implement their ideas on how to create a truly virtual classroom by linking their students through joint seminars or lectures, project work, and assignments over the period of a maximum of 18 months.

Project Descriptions of the Award-Winning Teams

Solar Energy Integration and Economics

Freiburg: Prof. Dr. Anke Weidlich
Penn State: Assistant Teaching Professor Mark Fedkin

Solar energy is expected to become the primary contributor to the world’s electricity generation in the upcoming decades. One of the most relevant problems is how to integrate the photovoltaic (PV) power into the electric grid system.

In this project, faculty teams from Penn State and University of Freiburg partner to develop a collaborative virtual course, “Solar Energy Integration and Economics”, which would explore the technical and economic aspects of integration of renewable energy systems into modern grid networks. This idea is built upon the leading position of University of Freiburg in solar and grid technologies and renowned expertise of Penn State in energy and grid economics. The course will be integrated in two existing online Master’s programs - Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (Penn State) and Solar Energy Engineering (Freiburg) - and will be co-taught by faculty from both universities.



Bringing International Experts in Pest and Pollinator Management to the Classroom

Freiburg: Prof. Dr. Alexandra Klein
Penn-State: Ass.-Prof. Natalie Boyle

Reports of recent and alarming declines in insect biodiversity and abundance have generated public concern, outrage and speculation over the consequential repercussions for the safety and stability of our planet. There is a widespread consensus that these declines are human-driven and include practices such as agricultural intensification and habitat fragmentation. Now is the time to train the next generation of growers, land managers, conservationists and scientists to manage insect biodiversity while supporting sustainable food production. An Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management (IPPM) approach has been developed as an adaptable and scalable framework to address these challenges.

A shared virtual classroom experience will be delivered to students focusing on emerging scientific techniques within IPPM. Through a series of live-streamed guest lectures, recorded and hosted by both institutions, students will discover the contributions and perspectives of scientists, science advocates and regulatory officials across the globe. Through both lecture and live discussion, students will learn how people are harnessing recent advances genomics, bioinformatics, molecular biology, neurobiology, machine learning and remote sensing to better understand the nature of and problems associated with maintaining global food security and ecosystem functions in modern agriculture.