Join us on March 16 – 17 at the #IndoGermanForum on ‘Cities and Climate’ organised by DWIH New Delhi. By 2050, urban population will increase by 2 billion people and about 68% of the world population will be living in cities. 8 panel sessions present how research can promote #sustainable urbanisation and minimise the impact of cities on #climatechange. Next to that, you can visit the virtual fair and network with a number of international institutions and stakeholders.
Have a look at the Global Talk on Sustainable Development Goal Number 9 held by Professor Martina Fromhold-Eisebith, IGCS Area Coordinator for Land Use, discussing how to sustainably connect Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure in the Digital Age.
The Amrita Center for Wireless Networks & Applications, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham UNESCO Chairs and Esri India are jointly hosting a Virtual International Symposium titled ‘Tsunami Risk Reduction & Community Resilience’ on December 26, 2020 from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. (IST). The symposium aims to reflect on the imprints of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the subsequent impact on the global society, and advances in science and technology to build sustainable and resilient communities.
The symposium will provide a platform to policy makers, technological innovators, the oceanography industry and researchers to come together and share their insights, as well as throw light on some of the key technological advancements and strategies that help to develop resilient communities across the world. It will address the following key areas, through two main themes.
Theme 1: Tsunami – Responses & Lessons Learnt
Theme 2: Tsunami – Are we ready for the Future?
Key presentation areas:
Case Studies addressing the response of the international fraternity
Response, Governance, & Community Resilience Presentation
Technological Innovations – Monitoring, Detection and Early Warning Systems
The event will bring forth a detailed report that will summarize the current preparedness that has been developed for Tsunami, and will give an insight into the strategic planning framework that needs to be developed for improving the resilience for the coastal communities across the globe.
We welcome you to join this endeavour. It would be great if you could pass this information to interested students and other colleagues as well.
IGCS Summer School on “Sustainable Smart Cities: Focus on Urban Mobility” was hosted by RWTH Aachen University, Germany. Applying for the event, I was eagerly waiting to attend the school in-person in Germany. I was interested in learning more about the different aspects of urban mobility in smart cities as my PhD research topic on “hybrid vehicles for smart cities” is dealing with a similar issue. I had a few questions before attending the summer school:
What are the factors influencing the acceptance and implementation of smart and sustainable mobility?
What would be the role of smart and green transport in sustainable cities?
What would be the environmental impacts of mobility?
What would be the future of mobility?
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we received an e-mail from the host informing the change of school from in-person to a completely online mode and inquiring about my willingness to attend the school. I was eager to participate in the school anyway as the topic was interesting and relevant for my field of study. We then got an e-mail from the host institution well in advance regarding the start and details of the online summer school. Afterwards, I received a confirmation of participation and the schedule of the school.
It was my first experience of attending this kind of workshop online. After being selected to participate in IGCS’ first-ever digital Summer School, I attended online lectures, engaged in panel discussions and worked in a group project in an international environment. All the school activities were conducted in the online platform Zoom, and online Moodle was used to interact with the lecturers and participants from different countries.
In the end, we all had to present our findings from the group project. There were five groups, each containing six members. Each group were presenting on a topic on the last day of Summer School. Teams for the workgroup were well distributed; members of the group were from both Indian and from German institutes and from various field of expertise. Our group topic for the project was well constructed by the host team. I was afraid that my internet connection would not hold. Still, everything was fine on the day, and our group successfully completed our presentation. Our presentation was on the topic “Environmental Impacts on Mobility”, and we mainly focused on:
Evolution and challenges of different modes of transportation
Share of transport on the total emissions of greenhouse gases
Environmental impacts due to dominant/conventional modes of transportation
Health impacts due to predominant/conventional modes of transportation
Environmental and Health impacts due to alternate/future means of transportation
Analyzing the convenience of the alternative means of transport in the contexts of developed and developing countries
After completing the school, I got many of my questions answered, and there are major inputs that I have taken away from the school for my research:
I have learnt more about the environmental aspects of mobility
Recent trends and advancements in the automobile industry (Ford) towards sustainable mobility
Working on our project group with friends from different disciplines increased my understanding of different aspects of engineering as well as environmental, geographical and sociological topics
With other projects, I have learned more about the public-private partnership in the mobility sector
The entire summer school was well organized, and fortunately, there were no problems with internet connectivity in my case. During the online summer school, I liked all the activities. In particular, I was mostly involved in our workgroups as it helped my research, and I got valuable inputs from my team members. The weekend activity task was very interesting, and it was a great opportunity to explore my personal mobility and priorities.
I networked with participants and professors in this online school too. I became friends with many of the participants, even though we only met online. Next to that, I got much help and guidance from our group mentor Dr Daniel Rosado related to environmental aspects on mobility.
I would recommend the following suggestions for the participants who are applying for the upcoming (online) Summer- and Winter Schools
Be excited to work with interdisciplinary workgroups
You will attend lectures from top universities in Germany, IIT Madras and leading global Industry professionals
Have a stable online connection and a web camera (for online schools)
My journey from being a Graduate in Electronics & Communication Engineer to joining for M-Tech in Renewable engineering was nothing short of an adventurous ride. However, over the past months at my University at Gandhigram Rural Institute, I realized that to achieve my dream, I should first be capable of embracing different cultures. This would enable me to learn the different ways I could approach things in life that were outside my comfort zone. Hence, this decision to mingle with people from different walks of life, people born and brought up in a different culture, and who spoke other languages from that of mine, pushed me to apply to the IGCS school programs.
I still remember that day; it was a late night at the end of January. I received my invitation letter from IGCS to participate in their Winter School 2020. I was super excited. From being a girl from a remote agricultural village in Kerala, who had hardly travelled out of state, let alone mingled with people from a different culture and language, now I was going to be a part of an international level program.
I started wondering about how this experience would be. Would my language skills be sufficient to interact with the other participants? Would I be able to communicate with the team? All excitement changed in an instant. The reasons that made me apply for this School stood up straight against me and I started to question my calibre. I was so confused and questioning myself: “Shall I accept this or not?” That was an endless night with circling thoughts. I tried to calm myself: “If I miss this chance, I will never get an opportunity like this”. I tried to be strong thinking: “Whatever happens, I’m going to be a part of the Winter School.” I accepted the offer to be a part of IGCS Winter School 2020, and then, I did it again and participated in the Summer School 2020 too.
The 15 days of Winter and Summer school made a substantial positive impact on me. All my previous fears were wrong. The IGCS team was very supportive, and they were frequently in contact, and they are always ready to help and always willing to listen.
I am sure that apart from being a platform to develop myself as a person, the IGCS Winter School Program also helped me a lot as an aspiring engineer. It is with extreme happiness; I say that I was not mistaken. In particular, I must say that the 15 days I spent at IIT Madras for the IGCS Winter School program 2020 brought about many changes in me both as a person and as an aspiring engineer. From language to culture, it was all diverse there, and that helped me a lot in coming out from the cocoon I had surrounded myself in. The unending discussions I had with students from Germany and the different states of India helped me understand how the differences in culture influence how we see and approach things. That strengthened my belief that as an aspiring engineer with an ambition of working in the rural sector, I should embrace these differences and try to incorporate different perspectives into my work.
The interaction I had with students and officials from Germany gave me a glance at how Germany is leading the way in Renewable Energy. The Winter School on “Sustainability in the Peri-cene: Human settlements, Food, Ecology and Governance” was instrumental for me to explore and learn about various scientific and technological solutions and contribute ideas to the issue of sustainable management of the environment and governance structures in the peri-cene. The peri-urban interface creates different kinds of problems and challenges regarding the broader consensus of environmental sustainability, regions at the edge of peri-urban areas are continually changing and expanding. The presentations and group projects gave me a good overview of the peri-urban interface. It creates various problems and challenges regarding the broader consensus of environmental sustainability and the human settlements on the Chennai greater corporation (GCC). The most exciting and challenging task was project work. My group consists of five members coming from different disciples that made our project group very interdisciplinary and exciting.
The participants’ food and accommodation, which had been taken care of by IGCS coordinators, was delicious and well planned. The coordinators were always ready to help the participants. I believe that the boundaries of countries are never going to separate people’s views and ideas but in fact, people from different geographies and backgrounds can learn from each other. Here, IGCS is an excellent platform for every student to improve their ability to exchange ideas. This platform allows every student to speak and express himself or herself without fear. For me, the 15 days of Winter School were an unforgettable experience where I met new people that became good friends. Now, I can proudly say that I am also a part of the IGCS family. I strongly suggest IGCS schools to everyone because it positively influenced my personal and academic development.
Well-being & the Good Life – The Human Being in Sustainability Transformations
This event is the 4th iteration of the Indo-German Dialogue on Green Urban Practices series (IGD). It is conceived as a continuous series of an annual interaction of academics, civil society activists, government officials, policy makers, and the corporate sector where appropriate. Its key objective is to provide a platform of sharing and exchange of experiences of social urban innovative change in Germany/Europe and India in order to leverage action towards new transdisciplinary research and practice projects.
Some key questions that will be addressed:
What are our underpinning principles, values, worldviews, beliefs, ethical-moral guidelines that inform the work we do?
What are our personal and collective inner resources, capacities and skills that we apply or intend to utilise in our activities?
What kind of methodical techniques and practices can be used to support personal and collective inner transformation?
How can these inner resources, etc. be honed, grow and developed further to leverage sustainable urban futures?
How can we perform awareness based social action research?
Approach and Methods of Interaction:
In the past, the format of the IGDs has been participatory and interactive, with the programme being co-designed and conducted by the delegates. We will retain this approach for the digital event as well as far as possible by deploying an array of tested methods in online interaction. For example:
My name is Rahul. I am from Kathmandu, Nepal. I am a Master’s student in Environmental Management at CAU Kiel, and I was a participant for the IGCS Winter School 2020 at IIT Madras. I had spent two weeks in Chennai traveling, learning, exploring new ideas, and meeting incredibly talented people. This is the story of my experience.
The lecture series integrated multidisciplinary views of urbanization and land questions to define sustainability both within the city premises and its periphery. It stressed the importance of addressing the rapidly blurring boundaries between cities, small towns, and rural areas, presenting a new terminology called periurbanisation.
The Winter School took me from Chennai’s lively streets to the serenity of Ennore, where the kind hearts of the locals keep the region warm. I was introduced to the South Indian architecture’s greatness, the taste of their legendary cuisine, and the marvels of the landscape it holds. There is a unique sense of wonder to witness sunrises from the ocean, as if gods underneath were bestowing us their gifts every morning.
IGCS showed me that the pressing environmental issues are hidden in plain sight, behind what we perceive as ‘every-day normalcy.’
The Winter School started with an important question: “Who gets to define what is sustainability?”
During the school, Dr. Chella notably stated that the term ‘Sustainable Development’ is not a fact, but rather a value. And it is imperative to recognize how communities define their value. Therein lies the challenge with the concept. Sustainability is more opinionated than quantifiable. Science alone cannot define it.
And, this, in turn, leads us to more questions-
“What are we ought to do then?” “Is sustainability even possible?” “Should our current lifestyle compromise life in the future?” or, “Should we turn a blind eye to the needs of the current generation for the sake of the future?” “How do we prioritize someone’s need over another?”
For me, this was a significant shift in perception from a belief in the existing theories and frameworks to lead the sustainability movement to a grounded reality. Science tends to take a back seat in the real world. Environment is a delicate machine whose routine operations are easily affected by external and often social factors.
Hence, perhaps, the most important question to solve sustainability issues could be simplified‒ “Why can’t we just get along?”
The school introduced us to technological tools and social-scientific frameworks that allowed us to assess the ongoing environmental conflicts and predict future risks in Chennai.
Every working day was essentially categorized into two segments. The first half was for the interdisciplinary lectures on sustainability delivered by environmental specialists from both Indian and German institutes. The latter half was then dedicated to “Action learning’ workshops that focused on project development based on theoretical learning from the sessions earlier. For this purpose, participants were divided into groups containing at least 5 members. At the end of the school, each group was required to present their respective projects’ findings.
The seminars’ education was highly encouraging, primarily through testimonies of individuals who have dedicated their lives to environmental causes. Their experiences were thought-provoking and added new dimensions of possible future challenges to consider in this field.
The seminars’ key highlights made me wary of our unpredictable and complex relationship with the environment. Conventional regulation measures have often led to unprecedented consequences. I believe this case reinforces Yuval Noah Harari’s quote from his book ‘21 Lessons for the 21st Century:’
“Humans were always far better at inventing tools than using them wisely.”
Another crucial takeaway point from the school was the importance of grassroots level participation in any environmental movement. There needs to be a great deal of trust between different sustainability actors at various levels to ensure that environmental policies have their desired outcome.
There is excellent potential to incentivize people with opportunities to improve their own living standards that also benefit the environment. Hence, I would like to continue in this direction by trying to find ways that answer the question:
“How do we institutionalize the local responsibility movement so that it encompasses a larger section of the polarized community?”
The overall Winter School experience was incredible and overwhelmingly unique. I was exposed to a completely different world. There is simply something majestic about sharing a glance with a stranger on the streets, recognizing that this will be our only interaction, possibly in this lifetime. Yet, in those brief moments, they told me a story about their life in this unique part of the world.
I came to Chennai alone. But I left making a lot of friends and memories worth a lifetime.
In 2010, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) and several German universities jointly established the IndoGerman Centre for Sustainability (IGCS), located on the IITM campus in Chennai (India), as a platform for international academic exchange and interdisciplinary research collaboration on major sustainable development issues. In Germany, the IGCS activities are supported by the ‘TU9’ group of Technical Universities (led by RWTH Aachen University) and Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel. Focus areas of sustainability education and research relate to water (Kiel University), waste (TU Stuttgart), land use and rural/urban development (RWTH Aachen), as well as energy (TU Berlin). The IGCS is part of the initiative “A New Passage to India” by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and receives funding from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) via DAAD and from the Dept. of Science and Technology, Government of India. Since its inception, the IGCS offers short-term Winter/Summer Schools on various sustainability topics, workshop participations, as well as short- and long-term research stays to students and researchers both from India and Germany at IGCS Chennai or the German partner universities. German and IITM academic staff closely collaborate both in teaching and research.
At the Chair of Energy Process Engineering and Conversion Technologies for Renewable Energies research and networking activities between India and Germany concerning the topic of energy should be developed (further). This also includes spending several months a year at IIT Madras. Thereby, under consideration of already existing research fields at the department, the following priorities should be set:
Resilience of power grids
Biomass and organic waste for the energy sector
Desalination of seawater
Furthermore, a key task is networking with partner institutions, which includes state agencies in India and Germany as well as the consolidation of existing networks within the IGCS, and the promotion of research and teaching cooperation. This includes own teaching activities at the IIT Madras. Additionally, the objective is to form a close interaction with the other IGCS core areas.
Faculty III – Institute for Energy Technology / Energy Process Engineering and Conversion Technologies for Renewable Energies
Reference number: III-531/20 (starting at the earliest possible / until 31/12/22 / closing date for applications 04/12/20)
You should conduct research projects and teaching together with IGCS colleagues in different formats (e.g. lectures at IITM and your home university in Germany, create content for workshops, teach and supervise Summer and Winter School students). With the support of the Indian and German project coordinators, you will actively contribute to organizing events. Furthermore, you will be a point of contact for exchange students and scientists who are planning their stay in Chennai. The majority of your work time you are required to spend at the IGCS office at IITM in Chennai, at least six of twelve months and preferably all year. You will be able to solicit research grants in Germany (e.g. DFG, industry) and collaborate with IGCS’ area coordinators in Indian research projects, engage in IGCS activities and support in teaching.
Successfully completed university degree (Master, Diplom or equivalent) and PhD degree and offer a strong research track record in any of the above-mentioned field of sustainable research (Resilience of power grids, Biomass and organic waste for the energy sector, Desalination of seawater)
Experience in teaching her/his subject
Fluent in English and German
Ability and willingness to travel to India for several months
Work-abroad experience and knowledge of the region
You are expected to engage in interdisciplinary research and to design your own project ideas and focus areas in India.
Please send your application with the reference number and the usual documents (combined in a single pdf file, max. 5 MB) by email to Prof. Dr. Frank Behrendt (firstname.lastname@example.org).
By submitting your application via email you consent to having your data electronically processed and saved. Please note that we do not provide a guaranty for the protection of your personal data when submitted as unprotected file. Please find our data protection notice acc. DSGVO (General Data Protection Regulation) at the TU staff department homepage: https://www.abt2-t.tu-berlin.de/menue/themen_a_z/datenschutzerklaerung/ or quick access 214041.
To ensure equal opportunities between women and men, applications by women with the required qualifications are explicitly desired. Qualified individuals with disabilities will be favored. The TU Berlin values the diversity of its members and is committed to the goals of equal opportunities.
Technische Universität Berlin – Der Präsident – Fakultät III, Institut für Energietechnik, FG Energieverfahrenstechnik und Umwandlungstechniken regenerativer Energien, Prof. Dr. Frank Behrendt, Sekr. GG 1, Seestr. 13, 13353 Berlin
A virtual seminar co-hosted by the Delegation of the European Union to India and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in New Delhi Thursday 22 October 2020 at 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm IST (11.30 am – 13.00 pm CET)
3.00 – 3.05 pm IST
Opening Address by the Ambassador of the European Union to India, H.E. Mr Ugo Astuto, on ‘EU-India Strategic Partnership committed to green the economies’
3.05 – 3.10 pm
Opening Address by the German Ambassador to India, H.E. Mr Walter J. Lindner, on ‘Plastic waste and citizen science under the German Presidency of the European Union’
3.10 – 3.25 pm
Ms Sieglinde Gruber, Head of Unit, Marine Resources, Directorate- General for Research & Innovation, European Commission: ‘Plastic waste research activities under EU research and innovation programmes’
3.25 – 3.35 pm
Dr Pravakar Mishra, Scientist – F, National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, Chennai: ‘Ongoing marine litter and micro-plastics research at NCCR’
3.35 – 3.50 pm
Dr Katrin Knickmeier, Director, The Kiel Science Factory, University of Kiel: ‘Plastic Pirates: A pan-European citizen science approach to plastic waste in waterways with global relevance’
3.50 – 4.05 pm
Dr R. Vinu, Associate Professor, Indo-German Centre for Sustainability, IIT Madras: ‘Novel Waste-to-Energy Technologies in the Indian Context’
4.05 – 4.25 pm
4.25 – 4.30 pm
Concluding remarks with next steps and opportunities
Graduate student Daniela and PhD student Katleen conducted research projects on the topic of waste management in India with support of IGCS. Of special interest were studies on the amount and composition of waste, as well as its recycling potential in Chennai and on Neil Island. Sadly, both of them had to end their exchange early due to the Corona virus. Nevertheless, they have achieved a lot during this time and let us take part in their journey, research interest and the implications the virus has on their projects!
Katleen, Berlin School of Economics and Law
Project: Baseline study on solid waste management generation and characterisation on Shaheed Dweep
At the IGCS Winter School in Chennai about Sustainable Waste Management in February 2019, I got inspired to continue research on waste issues as an IGCS research scholar. I was back at IIT Madras in October 2019 to start my research project under the guidance of Prof. Ligy Philip from the Civil Engineering Department at IIT Madras. Two months later I started my field work on the Andaman islands.
Driving forces for my research were
acquiring knowledge on the amount of waste being produced by whom and what on the islands and
identifying recycling potential to lessen the burden of the waste’s impact on the islands.
Neil Island, now called Shaheed Dweep, in the South Andamans was research area. The island is dominated by the tourism industry now. The relation about waste generation from local vs. tourist activities is an important indicator about the impact of tourism on small islands.
I chose to conduct a baseline study on Shaheed Dweep for my research project. Realizing that there are no actual figures about waste generation on the island, data collection on the island’s waste generation and the characterization of waste became an important target of my research project. Streamlining the island’s waste becomes a necessity in order to identify recyclable materials which can be transported out of the island. A resource recovery process could take place in Port Blair or on mainland India. The big advantage would be to reducing the burden on the open dumping yard on the Shaheed Dweep, which is currently the prevailing method of waste disposal.
Having said this, the restrictions following the COVID-19 crisis hit me during my second sampling week in March which I conducted with many volunteers to measure and sort the waste from the local market. Tourists were restrained from traveling to the Andamans, water sport activities like diving had to stop and suddenly the petrol station closed overnight. The waste collector changed their collection plans or even stopped collecting. End of story: I was escorted from the Andamans on the following Monday and my second sampling week unfinished. I was leaving the islands in confusion and a state of shock.
What happened next? I stayed in Chennai to continue analyzing my data. My sampling of household data was completed successfully. The waste rate per capita per day has been calculated for the sampling group of merely 0,18 kg/per person/day. Now extrapolating it to the total island inhabitants counting 3.040 people (Gram Panchayat Shaheed Dweep, 2019), the daily waste generation of all registered islanders would be at approximately 550 kg/day. This is a very small share (29%), given the estimation of about 1,9 metric tons per day of mixed waste by the Andaman Public Work Department in 2015. When looking at the composition of waste it reflects the Indian high standard of wet waste or compostable share (65%), while the remaining waste is coming as plastics (11,2%), glass (6,8%), paper (6,6,%), textiles (5,2%), metal (2,1%), hazardous waste (1,7%), other/rubber (1%) and e-waste (0,3%). My goal is now to close the data gap and get the respective figures for the market, the hotels and beach areas, which are the remaining major sources of waste streams on Shaheed Dweep.
Besides that, I enjoyed my time on the island with a diverse range of activities related to a sustainable waste management approach and data collection. Together with local and visiting volunteers, we removed 3,8 tons of waste from the beaches and one private property within three months. Out of this, 36% could be sent to Port Blair to recycle glass and plastic bottles. Furthermore, I conducted a workshops with school children about waste categorization, a waste management stall for the local island festival, a waste mural piece from plastic caps and many beach clean ups.
Heading off to the Andamans with the ferry was not only a dream come true but also an adventure in itself. I wish to return later this year to continue what I had to leave suddenly overnight on Shaheed Dweep.
Source: Katleen Schneider
Daniela Strittmatter, University of Stuttgart
Research Project: Plastic waste management in coastal areas
Plastic is known as a material with a huge range of applications in nowadays life. Our economy wouldn’t be the same without this reliable and cheap material. But what happens with the increasing amount of plastic material after its life spam…?
That was the question that came to my mind many times within the last years and during my master studies. So I decided to deal with this fascinating topic in my master’s thesis. The main aim of my thesis was to examine, how to improve the plastic waste management system in beach areas of Chennai. I conducted my research together with Professor Dr. Ligy Philip from the Civil Engineering Department at IIT Madras in Chennai and Professor Dr. Martin Kranert from the University of Stuttgart.
The research area of my research project is Chennai, a city with around 8,7 million inhabitants in India’s southeast. Similar to many other cities, Chennai is facing increasing amounts of waste, generated by society and companies. Due to an insufficient waste management infrastructure and lacking numbers of waste treatment plants, around 94% of the waste mixture is either deposited on open dumpsites without proper treatment or thrown away illegally. Uncollected waste that reaches coastal areas is likely to enter the sea, leading to negative long-term effects on a sensitive ecosystem. This is especially of increasing concern as the amount of plastic debris in underwater environments continues to accumulate with expected long-term effects on animal and human well-being.
As there is a lack of literature about the current waste composition at beaches in Chennai, I started my research with a status-quo waste analysis at different beach areas. This was an important step in order to gain a first impression. The waste analysis included both the amount and composition of waste, with a focus on plastic. Especially the questions “What is the amount of plastic waste that can be recycled?” and “Which areas are prone for plastic accumulation and why?” were of high interest for me. Luckily, many helpful hands at IIT Madras helped me with my sampling collection as I found many kilograms of waste per sampling site.
One main challenge was the hot and humid weather in Chennai, especially during noon at the sampling sites. With the sun burning down on my helpers and me, it was often quite exhausting to collect and transport the samples at the beach for hours. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being outside and was proud seeing the clean beach areas in the evening. Unfortunately and with a heavy heart, I flew back to Germany with a heavy heart due to the unpredictable Corona-crisis. I wasn’t able to collect further samples anymore due to the lock-down in whole of India. Nevertheless, I am glad to have finished my basis data which I’ll continue to use in an adopted way for my project now that I am back in Germany.
Besides writing my master’s thesis one exciting experience was my participation at the Winter School about “Sustainability in the Peri-scene” at IIT Madras in February 2020, organized by IGCS. The main content of the Winter School was to give the participates a well-rounded understanding of the peri-urban development in Chennai by having lectures, panel discussions, exercises and project work. Apart from the gained content knowledge the Winter School gave great opportunities to build a network with people of the same interest background and I am happy to still be in contact with many of them. Another highlight of my stay was during a beach clean-up I did on my own. Suddenly, a local person appeared, showed interest in my project work and offered to help me without any requirements. It was great to see that people are aware of the waste problem and the negative environmental effects and are willing to do something against it if they get the chance.
All in all I really enjoyed my stay in India. It’s a diverse, colourful and lively country and there are many things to discover. During my travels I enjoyed beautiful landscapes with rice paddies, white sand beaches and tea plantations. I fell in love with the tasty exotic fruits and delicious spicy dishes. Luckily friends taught me how to prepare Indian food. Especially the friendliness and curiosity of Indians made it very easy to get integrated into the Indian way of living and to feel home in Chennai soon. In order to get an impression of all facets of India, it is important to be open-minded and be ready for new experiences because India is also a country of contrasts. In some areas the effects of poverty and luxury can be seen next to each other and this can be challenging to cope with sometimes. Although it is visible that there is effort to improve the waste management situation in the cities, there is still a long way to go and solutions to be found. In order to enhance sustainable systems and thinking, international cooperation bonds like IGCS are a great way to exchange relevant knowledge and experiences between India and Germany and to bring research further for both sides.
Hence, I am very thankful for the experiences I made during my 3,5 months stay in Chennai and would highly recommend the exchange program to interested students. I will definitely come back to visit my friends and to discover the beautiful western and northern parts of India.