Each year a group of RMIT students undertake an intensive two-week study tour in France to investigate what a sustainable city or region might look like in the future.
This elective study tour course is open to RMIT undergraduate and postgraduate students and runs during semester break. It is aimed at addressing the major issue of climate change and how our cities can become more sustainable.
RMIT Program Manager and leader of the study tour, Edmund Horan said the study tour starts by considering the attributes of a successful city.
“Two international cities – Melbourne in Australia and Bordeaux in France – are chosen as reference points to research worldwide issues,” Horan said.
“Bordeaux and Melbourne are amongst the most liveable cities in the world, but the two cities have developed differently.
“In less than two centuries, Melbourne has become a bright star of the ‘new’ world with modern infrastructure spread out in one of the largest and sparsest urban networks in the world.
“In contrast, Bordeaux has evolved over many centuries while still retaining a dense urban centre as a vibrant world focus.”
Interactive classroom sessions were provided by experts from academia from the Bordeaux region on topics such as water resources, forestry, alternate energy and storage, LCA, green chemistry, waste management, green buildings, behaviour change, waste management and recycling.
As well as the landfill, bio-gas and greenhouse facilities, students inspected sustainability operations such as waste-water treatment and recycling, an eco-park, thin film PV facility and wine industry operations.
Cassandra Bates, a Master of Sustainable Practice student who took part in the study tour said the tour was an important opportunity.
“We learned first-hand from experts on how to address the challenges of sustainable development and the consequences of global warming,” Bates said.
“To hear from leaders in their fields about the innovations they were researching was truly inspiring.”
However, the tour isn’t all about technology and sustainability issues, it also gives students the chance to immerse themselves in a new culture and gain valuable personal skills.
“Being part of this program enriched my knowledge and honed my values as a student, as a policy leader and as a global citizen,” Bates said.
“When I think of my time on the Bordeaux Summer Exchange, words such as delicious, wine, sustainability, tram, sunshine and cycling all come to mind.
“This exchange gave me a taste of a new culture, language and environment and enabled me to learn more about sustainability than I ever could in a classroom.”