Each year a group of RMIT environmental engineering and science students undertake an intensive two-week study tour through China.
The RMIT China environmental challenges study tour provides an opportunity for students to receive an international perspective on a relevant environmental issue.
China is currently facing enormous challenges including air, water and soil pollution; urbanisation; and waste management.
Since 2013, the Chinese Government has made an unprecedented effort in solving these challenges, through engineering and policy approaches.
Senior lecturer, and coordinator of the China study tour, Dr Matthew Currell said the tour was a valuable experience for RMIT students.
“During their time in China, students hear firsthand from experts working on real issues that are affecting the country,” Currell said.
“Students are then able to collect data and other useful information to develop their own plan to approach these problems through engineering and policy-based solutions.”
During a recent tour, students collaborated with local researchers and staff from non-government organisations in Beijing to discuss possible solutions to China’s water challenges.
Environmental engineering student, James Travers said the expedition gave him exposure to the issue on a much wider scale.
"The study tour in China was an exploration into the collective environmental challenges facing China and humanity – it was like being a cosmic ride into consciousness!” Travers said.
“The journey enabled me to move from a conceptual idea of humanitarian environmental challenges, into a physical world experience of what our species is facing in order to evolve.”
The tour is focused on the northern region – the centre of China’s economic activity and environmental challenges – where students visit major cities on the North China Plain.
The itinerary includes an opportunity to see China’s engineering mega-projects in the South-North water transfer project and the groundwater monitoring and research station of the Chinese Geological Survey.
Students also attend a number of events hosted by China Academy of Sciences and Chinese Institute for Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology.
“Overall, the students develop a real passion for the issues and an appreciation of the complexity of implementing solutions,” Currell said.
“They also gain an awareness of the international dimensions of these environmental challenges in a globalised world.”