First hybrid matchmaking event in FIT FORTHEM: Meet the FORTHEM’s Climate and Resources Lab

By Mira Väyrynen and Melanie Groß, with contributions by Martina Kirilova and Virginia Toy

In FIT FORTHEM, our fourth matchmaking event was titled “Meet the FORTHEM’s Climate and Resources Lab” and it was held as a hybrid event in the morning on 8 October. The event was hosted by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and University of Jyväskylä. This was the first time for the FIT FORTHEM matchmaking team to organize a hybrid event and several take home messages will be shared in the conclusion related to organizing a hybrid event.

In this event, there were altogether 40 participants – 10 on-site participants in Mainz and 30 online participants via Zoom. 10 participants came outside of the academia, and the rest were either academic or administrative staff and students from the FORTHEM universities.


Program: 5 sessions representing the outputs of the Lab

In the first session, Gretha Boor and Prof. Virginia Toy from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) presented the sustainability concept for the FORTHEM alliance, which was originally an initiative of the students and reviewed by the academic staff. They are evaluating how the current actions of the Alliance partners accord with this developed concept through an online questionnaires and plan to disseminate the results to the Alliance. After one year, they will have another evaluation to see if there has been any change in behavior as a result of adopting the policy. They also introduced the themes of the policy and at the end of the session, there was an interactive discussion with the participants about their behaviors related to these subjects.

The second session was about the University of Mainz Institute of Geosciences Schools Outreach by Dr. Christoph Helo from Mainz. He highlighted that holistic approaches are required to solve societal problems and that scientists need to work together with the academic and non-academic stakeholders and citizens. He discussed examples such as the climate-crisis which requires full support by the public and a critical dialogue between science and public – and that knowledge needs to be transferred from the universities to the general public. For this assignment, they have created an Institute of Geosciences outreach concept that he introduced during his session. The main target group for this concept are pupils and high school students.

The third session was again presented by Prof. Toy. She introduced the idea of a Geothermal Living Lab and Borehole, and ideas to engage groups outside of the university in this living lab – such as schools, museums, businesses, and media.

Then it was time for Dr. Martina Kirilova’s (JGU) presentation about the joint master course “Sedimentary Records of Earth’s Past Climate”. This course will be co-taught with the academics from 4 FORTHEM Universities: Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), University of Valencia (UV), University of Burgundy Dijon (UB) and University of Palermo (UNIPA). They will implement an online lecture series with current topics and carry out group work both in person and remotely. This course represents a novel approach for hybrid style of teaching which has the potential to become widely integrated in our educational system because: (i) it allows the participation of students who may otherwise be unable to take the course due financial, logistical or other reasons; (ii) it gives students the opportunity to learn from  academics with variable expertise and affiliation, thus provides students with more wholistic understanding of a selected topic; (iii) teaches students how to integrate various ways of gathering and interpreting data; (iv) creates and strengthens mutually beneficial relationships between scientists from different fields.

In the last session, several academics from the FORTHEM Universities introduced different research expert groups that are related to the research of Climate and Resources. In their introductions, Asst. Prof. Geraldina Signa (UNIPA), Assoc. Prof. Emmanuelle Pucéat (UB), Dr. Benjamin Pohl (UB) and Prof. Toy showed how extensively and in what multidisciplinary ways our FORTHEM Universities are involved in solving the challenges related to the Climate & Earth resources, together with external stakeholders.

After all the sessions, the university external stakeholders were included in the discussions both online and on-site. There were some leading questions prepared by the session speakers and ideas for the future collaboration were shared in the workshop.


Take home messages from this hybrid workshop

In hybrid setting, one of the most essential points is that online and on-site participants have the same opportunities for active participation. It is therefore important to make sure that the connection works well on-site, so that online participants can hear and see the on-site actions and vice versa. Using conference call microphone/speaker allows everyone to participate in the discussions equally, regardless of the way of participation. After our experience with this kind of event, we would recommend that future hybrid events have a technical support online and on-site. It is also important to test the technical requirements including both parties (on-site and online) before the event.

This type of meeting has offered the Climate & Resources Lab the opportunity to meet several university-externals both on-site and online, and a number of topics for further collaboration were identified that will be targeted for development either in the on-going or new, upcoming outputs of the FORTHEM Climate and Resources Lab.


The last matchmaking workshop for this year was conducted together with the Resilience, Life Quality and Demographic Change Lab in the afternoon on 8 November. Stay tuned for the upcoming blog posts!


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