Department of Geography, Geo-informatics & Climatic Sciences reviews programmes

In a bid to align its programmes to the national and global development agenda, the Department of Geography, Geo-informatics and Climatic Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University conducts periodical reviews in consultation with different stakeholders.

The Head, Department of Geography, Geo-informatics and Climatic Sciences, Prof. Frank Mugagga briefing participants on the review process

The Department is currently reviewing five programmes namely: Master of Land Use and Regional Development Planning, MSc Disaster Risk Management, Master of Geographical Sciences, Bachelor of Geographical Sciences, and BSc Meteorology.

Besides aligning the programmes to the national and global development agenda, the review processes is intended to improve marketability and innovativeness of the programmes, address industry needs and contemporary challenges, improve practical training and interdisciplinarity, and to strengthen analytical skills amongst students.

Since 2017, the department has been engaging different stakeholders including individual staff members, students, alumni and industry actors who have provided enriching contributions. The reviewed programmes will be rolled out in the Academic Year 2023/2024.

The Dean, School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, CAES, Prof. Fred Babweteera addressing participants

Stakeholder engagement

To further enrich the programmes, the Department held a two-day stakeholder engagement to receive feedback on the proposed amendments. The activity held on 3rd-4th August 2022 at the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences and coordinated by the Head of Department, Prof. Frank Mugagga and Dr Paul Mukwaya was attended by academics from Makerere University College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT); College of Education and External Studies (CEES); College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS); and the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS). It was also attended by representatives from Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA); Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development; National Planning Authority; and USAID.

The Deputy Principal of CAES, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze delivering his remarks at the review workshop

Proposed amendments

  1. MSc Disaster Risk Management

The overall objective of the programme is to build national and regional human capacities in reducing risk to disasters and accelerating human security and economic development.

Specific Objectives

  • Develop multi-skilled and dynamic professionals with knowledge and novel techniques to assess disaster risks and implement timely measures to efficiently manage disasters
  • Impart interdisciplinary research skills for generation of information and knowledge for disaster risk management
  • Increase local and regional capacities for anticipation, prediction and management of disaster events
Prof. Tonny Oyana (R), Principal College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University graced the event

Courses offered

Under the programme, a number of courses are offered including; Principles of Disaster Risk Management, Risk and Vulnerability Analysis, Introduction to Geo-Information Science, Natural hazards Assessment, Legal Frameworks for Disaster Risk Management, Population and Displacement, Extreme Weather Events, Research Methods and Applied Statistics, Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation, Field Exposure and Project Reporting, Earth Observation Techniques for Disaster Risk Management, Economics of Hazards and Disasters, Public Health in Emergencies and Humanitarian Assistance, and Urban Risk Management.

Dr Paul Mukwaya moderated the workshop and presented the revised Master of Land Use and Regional Development Planning.

Summary of modifications

All courses have been aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the stakeholders’ engagement, proposals were made to include issues of disaster communication & response, resilience, insurance, multi-hazard analysis and climate change. The revised programme will equip students with interdisciplinary research skills to effectively deal with various disasters.

Dr Henry Semakula presenting revisions in the MSc Disaster Risk Management
  1. Master of Geographical Sciences

The programme aims to build a sought-after human resource pool of graduates with geographical skills and knowledge to address contemporary and emerging issues across scales. It also aims to advance the understanding of Geographical Sciences for graduate students from diverse disciplines, to build capacity in geographic research and information management, and to impart knowledge on the integrating nature of geography for multidisciplinary response to complexities of the world.

 

Participants listening to the presentations

Courses offered

The Department offers a wide-range of courses under the programme. These include: Geographical Thought and Applications, Geographical Information Science and Technology, Remote Sensing and Earth Observations, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Natural Resource Modelling and Management, Applied Economic Geography, Geo-Politics and Development, Soil Conservation and Management, Coastal and lacustrine Geomorphology, Research Methods and Applied Statistics, Land Evaluation and Land Use Planning, Impact Assessment and Auditing, Settlement Analysis and Planning, Population Analysis and Development, Applied Agro-Climatology, Fluvial Geomorphology, Vulnerability and Resilience Analysis and Qualitative Methods in Geography.

Prof. David Mfitumukiza presented revisions in the Master of Geographical Sciences

Summary of modifications

The review process aimed to strengthen students’ analytical skills, linkages between theory & practice, and interdisciplinary as well as transdisciplinary focuses. Most of the aforementioned courses remain intact with a few adjustments to improve the content. Proposals have been made to drop the course in Applied Agro-Climatology, merge Coastal and lacustrine Geomorphology (GEO7123) with Fluvial Geomorphology, and to make Vulnerability and Resilience Analysis and Qualitative Methods in Geography new elective courses.

  1. Master of Land Use and Regional Development Planning

The programme focuses on how public and/or private land and associated resources can be preserved, developed, and used for maximum social, economic, and environmental benefit. A number of courses are offered in the fields of natural resources management, natural resource economics, public policy, regional and land use planning, environmental impact assessment, applicable law and regulations, government and politics, principles of business and real estate land use, statistical and analytical tools, computer applications, mapping and report preparation, site analysis, cost analysis, and communications skills.

Participants at the review workshop

Summary of modifications

Proposals have been made to rename Principles of Disaster Risk Management – Disaster Risk Management and Assessment, and to drop Natural Hazards Assessment, but incorporate its content into Disaster Risk Management and Assessment. Other proposals include; i) renaming Legal Frameworks for Disaster Risk Management – Disaster Law and Policy; ii) Extreme Weather events – Weather Information and Early Warning and incorporate content from Climate Risks and Disasters; iii) Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation course content updated to include aspects of early actions and forecast; iv) renaming Rural Development – Local Planning Economic Development: Theory and Practice; v) Elements of risk management incorporated into Spatial Decision Support Systems; vi) the field course Regional Ecological Planning Studio combined with Integrated Urban Planning and renamed Land Use and Regional Planning Practice; vii) Strategic Environmental Planning and Management strengthened to reflect trends in environmental assessment and monitoring; and viii) Applied Spatial Statistics & Modelling for Planning proposed to become a school-wide course. The new courses include; Qualitative Data Analysis; Advanced Urban Systems Theory; Advances in Regional Science: Principles and Methods; Planning Ethics and Spatial Justice; Planning Law and Governance of Urban and Regional Dynamics or Regional Development Policy Issues and Analysis; Resilience, vulnerability and Regional Development; Inclusive Growth and Development; Infrastructure Geographies; and Critical Perspectives in Agrarian Change.

Dr Denis Nseka led the review of the Bachelor of Geographical Sciences
  1. Bachelor of Geographical Sciences

This is a three-year Day programme started in the Academic Year 2017/2018 with three students. Intake has grown over time to an average of 30-40 students. The programme admits both A Level and Diploma students. A Level Geography is essential for direct entry.

Objectives of the Programme

The main objective of the reviewed programme is to produce geographers who are knowledgeable and practically skilled in geographical and earth systems sciences, can promote earth stewardship and contribute to sustainable development.

Dr Alex Nimusiima led the review of the BSc Meteorology emphasizing A’ Level pure math as a requirement for admission to the programme

Specific objectives

  • Develop competent geographers that have the basic and novel yet transferable knowledge, skills and technologies in geography and earth systems
  • Produce competent geographers with knowledge and understanding of the earth’s resource potentials and limits in a geographic context
  • Build geographers that have the breadth and depth of knowledge on earth system dynamics and changes
  • Train geographers to initiate, plan and execute inquiry and research in topical geographic fields and earth systems sciences
  • Develop geographers that have the skills and knowledge in and pathways to attainment of sustainable development
  • Train geographers that are adequately prepared to respond to the changing global environmental, and social systems under scarce natural resources
Participants following the proceedings at the curriculum review workshop

 Courses offered

Year 1 – Human Geography, Fundamentals of statistics, Principles of Earth Systems Science, Introduction to Soil Science, Communication Skills, Development Geography of East Africa, Sustainability Science and Development, Fundamentals of Ecosystem Science, Foundations of Cartography and Photogrammetry, and Urbanization and the Environment. Year 2 – Geomorphology, Applied Cartography and Photogrammetry, Earth Observation Systems, Techniques and Applications, Global Environmental Change, Population Geography, Agriculture, Environment and Development, Risk Assessment and Management, Soil Conservation: Methods and Applications, Fundamentals of hydrology, Sustainable Energy Transitions, Research Methods, Climatology, Advanced Quantitative Techniques in Geography, Principles of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Economic Geography, Settlement Systems Analysis, Project planning and Management, Development Geography of Africa, Biogeography, Principles of Resource Assessment, Development and Management, Lacustrine and riverine Landscape Management, Arid and Semi – Arid Land Management. Year 3 – Geographical Thought and Philosophy or Geographical Thought and Practice, Advanced Climatology, Geo-Statistics and Modeling, Advanced Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Demography, Political Geography,

Military Geography, Geography and Public Policy Analysis, Highland and Mountain Resource Management, Applied Hydrology / Advanced Hydrology, Land Use Planning and Management, Environmental Degradation and Conservation, Systematic Geography of Uganda, Advanced Geomorphology, Applied Earth Observations Systems Techniques and Applications, Research Project and Dissertation, Urban Geography, Transport Geography, Regional Development Planning, Regional Development Geography of East and South East Asia, Road Safety: Theory and Applications, Environmental Disaster Assessment, and Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change.

Proposed modifications

i)Human Geography course has been updated to include human environment interactions and implication ii) Introductory Statistics changed to Fundamentals of Statistics, iii) Principles of Earth Systems Science revised to provide foundation for climatology, biogeography, hydrology and geomorphology, iv) Communication skills introduced, v) Atmospheric Processes, Weather and Climate no longer mandatory for BGS students but for other students in the school, vi) Development Geography of East Africa revised to include aspects on constraints to development and possible solutions, vii) Fundamentals of Ecosystem Science revised to integrate issues of Natural selection and adaptation by plants and animals, as well as restoration ecology, viii) Global Environment Change reviewed to integrate issues of land use and cover change dynamics, biodiversity and environmental change assessment, ix) Energy Analysis and Planning changed to Sustainable Energy Transitions, x) Feminism and Geography dropped, xi) Fundamentals of Hydrology introduced, xii) Lacustrine and Riverine Landscape Management course focusing on lake and river systems resource utilization and management introduced, xiii) Project Planning and Management introduced, xiv) Highland and Mountain Resources Management changed to Mountain Sustainable Resource Management, xv) Applied Hydrology and Environmental Degradation and Conservation introduced, xvi) Tourism and Recreation Resource Management as well as Regional Development Geography of Europe and Asia and Wildlife Ecology and Management dropped, xvii) Regional Development Geography of East and South East Asia introduced.

  1. BSc Meteorology

This is a three-year Day programme that started in the Academic Year 2011/2012 with 4 students. Intake has been growing over time with an average of 25-35 admitted. The programme admits both A Level and Diploma students. A Level pure mathematics is essential for direct entry.

Prof. Fredrick Tumwine commenting on the revisions

Summary of proposed courses

Year 1 – Introduction to Atmospheric Science, Meteorological Instruments and Observation Methods, Differential and Integral calculus, Classical Mechanics, Introduction to computing in meteorology, Communication Skills, Thermodynamics, Matrix Algebra and Vector analysis, Tropical Meteorology, Computer programming in Meteorology, Numerical Methods in Meteorology, and Introduction to gender. Year 2 – Synoptic Meteorology, Advanced Atmospheric Science, Atmospheric Dynamics, Cloud Physics, Biometeorology, Soil Science and Management, Physical Meteorology, Foundations of climate change science, Weather Analysis and Forecasting, Research Methods, Principles of Geographical Information systems, Renewable energy resources, Marine Meteorology, and Data Information Management in Meteorology. Year 3 – Remote Sensing in Meteorology, Boundary layer Meteorology, Hydrometeorology, Agro-meteorology, Advanced GIS, Meteorology and Human Environment, Urban Climatology, Elements of Environmental Pollution and Control, Aviation Meteorology, Adaptation and mitigation to Climate Change, Research Project, Societal Climate services, and Integrated Water resource management.

Participants during the workshop

Participants proposed to include climate change and communication skills in all programmes.

The stakeholder engagement was graced by the Deputy Principal, CAES, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze who emphasized the need to reflect on the relevance of all programmes offered as the University marks 100 years of existence. The workshop was attended by among others, the Principal, College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University, Prof. Tonny Oyana.



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