Marilós Balaguer: “We teach that water should be understood as a global problem”

The need to train professionals who specialize in solving the problems associated with water use and management has led the University of Girona to offer, since 2006, a master’s degree that provides the precise tools required for a correct diagnosis in water resources management.

Marilós Balaguer coordinates the Master’s in Water Science and Technology offered by the UdG. She defends the need to train professionals who specialize in solving the problems associated with the water use and management, an area which requires an integration of scientific, technological and social aspects to address these problems from a global perspective. That is a view that goes beyond that provided by the different levels addressing this issue, whether scientific or technical. In order to meet the objectives of integration described, the Master’s of  Water Science and Technology has a staff of leading researchers, who have a long career in research in many different disciplines -technology, chemistry, ecology, hydrology, microbiology, economics and social sciences- whose common denominator is the study of water. The range of disciplines include in this master’s programme enables students to get a broad view of this resource, so that he or she can confront any issues related or linked to its use.

Objective: to train professionals to improve the use of this resource
Therefore, the aim of the course is to train professionals in the diagnosis and management of water, by going deeper into the scientific, methodological and technical knowledge required for it. It does not only provide knowledge, but also it promotes the practical aspects and projects planned in collaboration with public and private bodies. The coordination of the master’s insists on the fact that professionals and researchers who work in the water field need to understand the problems associated to it from a global perspective and that the curriculum of the course puts emphasis on this view . “We must work with the water a cycle in order to make it more and more closed” Balaguer said, referring to the need to reuse the water we consume and that, through an appropriate management , has to eliminate the present threats about the future.

The master offers twenty places – its capacity is  conditional on the practices being carried out, since a greater number of students would make them difficult- ,thus the student selection process is essential. Candidates come from various fields such as geology, chemistry, environmental sciences, chemical or electronic engineering or pharmaceutical science, among others. The threat of background diversity is soon sorted out because at the very start of the course, students begin a field practice where, they spend two days together and as well as getting to know each other, they share each other’s expertises, which helps them become more collaborative.

As the course advances, they will carry out practical work in laboratories and will visit companies related to their subject of study,  these two being very applied work aspects that the master’s organizers consider of great importance. During the  course, course-projects are developed in various disciplines in order to apply not only previous knowledge but also the methods of analysis and diagnosis learned. An example is the project carried out by students, consisting of the study of a section of a river, in which they perform the diagnosis of its chemical and ecological condition, they assess the use of the water and then make make suggestions as to how to enhance the site (for example, they may propose to design routes of cultural interest). The most interesting thing of the project is that students present it publicly in the town where the study took place, and representatives of the Council and the institutions involved in water management are invited to the event. Therefore, the compulsory research work required is performed in the most advantageous way, and that lets students come in contact with the sector’s problems and provides them with the ability to confront them and look for alternatives and solutions.

As for the future, Balaguer said that after the UdG was awarded the CIE, it aims at taking the opportunity to make that the Master’s of  Water Research and Technology becomes an Erasmus Mundus Master’s.

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