My experience as alumna working for the institute as resource person for the master module “Planning at Project and Landscape Scale”

One of our recent alumni and DAAD scholarship holder from Ecuador, Nicole Acosta, contributed to the teaching of the Master program in Tropical Forestry by integrating her master thesis project to the module “Planning at Project and Landscape Scale”. This integration benefits both Nicole and the current students. Nicole reports her experiences in the following article. 

La Libertad3

Corn monocultures in the lowlands of La Libertad parish, the case study site. (© N. Acosta)

As an alumna of the M.Sc. Tropical Forestry, I (Nicole Acosta) am very glad that I had the opportunity to contribute to the learning process of fellow foresters that are currently studying the master program “Tropical Forestry”. During the winter semester 2019-2020 I have been working as a resource person for the master module “Planning at Project and Landscape Scale”. My job has been to support a group of students in the elaboration of a project proposal based on the case study of my master thesis, which is about the improvement of land use sustainability in a rural parish in Southwestern Ecuador.

I, as an expert in the topic, guided the students in the understanding of the problems, so they could deliver a feasible plan adjusted to the local conditions. Throughout the semester, the students had the task to develop a full project proposal which includes:

  • Problem assessment, objective identification
  • Logical Framework elaboration
  • Resources planning: Financial & budget planning
  • Monitoring and Evaluation planning
  • Environmental and Social impact assessment (EIA & SIA)

This experience has reinforced my own knowledge on project planning and has contributed to the development of an existing local initiative called “Primates del Sur”. For sure, six people work better than one. Having the chance to re-think the local problems and discuss the most effective ways to improve the socio-economic and environmental situation has also given me new ideas to contribute to the initiative back in Ecuador.

During my master thesis, I developed participatory scenarios for sustainable livelihoods in the parish. My research tried to capture the local stakeholders’ point of view to integrate it in the strategic planning, and increase the viability of future interventions. Combining the local stakeholders’ perspective with the structured effort that the master students have done to deliver a high-quality proposal has given a valuable input to me and the initiative leaders in Ecuador. We have polished our ideas and are currently in the process of applying for funds to execute them.


Nicole, Prof. Pretzsch as supervisor and colleagues during Nicole’s master’s thesis defense (©K. Hintz)

From my perspective, the exchange of knowledge between alumni and current students has the potential to complement the academic curriculum. Freshly-graduated students are very aware of the challenges of the master program and can help current students overcome those difficulties that were a big step for them at the time of studying. On the other hand, as an alumna, getting a second overview of the contents of a module is a great way to reinforce learning. Moreover, this is a good opportunity to grow our professional network and make connections that can be very valuable for our future careers.

By Nicole Acosta



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