The TROPIMUNDO Consortium is composed of the following 5 European (EU) and 4 non-EU Higher Education Institutions (HEI):
EU HEI: the Université Libre de Bruxelles/ULB and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel/VUB in Brussels, Belgium, the Université Pierre et Marie Curie/UPMC and the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle/MNHN in Paris, France, the Université de la Guyane française/UdG, in Kourou, French Guyana, and the Università degli Studi di Firenze/UNIFI in Florence, Italy, and non-EU HEI: the Université de Dschang/UDsch in Dschang, Cameroon, the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu/UMT, in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, and the University of Queensland/UQ in Brisbane, Australia.
We are currently entertaining new contacts with universities in the USA to establish a Caribbean study pole.
Figure caption on TROPIMUNDO map: Rough overview of the geographic distribution and ecosystems under focus at the different partner institutes involved as full partners. The possible mobility tracks between these institutes are indicated in the figure on TROPIMUNDO Trajectories in 4 semesters (Section 2C).
Most of the Local Program Coordinators at each participating HEI or their immediate colleagues are senior researchers in the fields of tropical biodiversity and ecosystems, each of them focused on a particular ecosystem (see www.tropimundo.eu homepage). The European institutes have complementary specialisations with the Belgian HEIs specialised in an ecosystem approach of tropical forests and wetlands, the French HEIs specialised in vegetation and plant science of tropical rainforests, and the Italian HEI specialised in zoological aspects of tropical and coastal ecosystems.
The non-EU HEIs provide additional complementary partnerships by offering an in situ field course, in addition to a number of other courses. Regardless of the expertise or renown of the European HEIs in tropical ecosystems education and research, the partnership with the third-country HEIs contributes to the uniqueness of TROPIMUNDO, which is in part taught within and adjacent to the ecosystems which are in fact the third-country HEIs own. Our consortium maintains that there is nothing like learning by doing in situ.
Cross-training across three different European HEIs, in different cultural environments will give to TROPIMUNDO graduates a better than average level of independent analytical capacity, whereas interdisciplinary, in-depth scientific training will improve their ability to observe actual ecosystems, make diagnoses, formulate work hypotheses and devise possible practical solutions. Field training in a third-country HEI will be invaluable for both further research and productivity in management positions requiring effective understanding of ecosystems.
This will make TROPIMUNDO graduates: (i) better able to write a PhD project, (ii) better able to write a project to seek funding for a cooperation project within an ONG or a consulting firm, (iii) better capable to devise original solutions when faced with real-world problems and practical obstacles in education and research sensu lato, and (iv) substantially better teachers
The expertises in the field of tropical biodiversity and ecosystems at each of the full-partner institutes as evidenced by their peer-reviewed publications in Web of Science or by their education and research facilities are as follows:
ULB: Mangrove forests (spatio-temporal dynamics, socio-ecology and restoration), tropical rainforests and woodlands (vegetation science, population genetics, termite and ant communities); VUB: African Lakes (vegetation science, conservation genetics), mangrove forests (vegetation science, ecophysiology and functional anatomy), coral reefs (biodiversity, phylogenetics); UPMC: Tropical rainforests (vegetation science, phylogeny, bioinformatics); MNHN: Tropical rainforests (vegetation science, systematics, taxonomy, phylogeny, flora and fauna, man and environment, agroforestry); UNIFI: Mangrove forests and coastal biology (zoology, evolutionary biology, animal behaviour and orientation, physical landscape processes), ecotone ecosystems (marine-terrestrial ecotone and vegetated-desert ecotone : ecological, social and economic issues in environment stewardship); UdG: Amazonian ecosystems (biodiversity, landscape processes, socio-cultural diversity of Amazonian rainforests and wetlands); UDsch: African tropical rainforests and woodlands (sustainable management of forests resources, identification, characterisation and domestication of non-timber forest products, biodiversity evaluation and characterisation); UMT: tropical coastal forests, mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs; UQ: Humid wet tropics, mangroves, coral reefs (tropical terrestrial and marine ecosystem management, geomatics, reef communities, fisheries science, coastal and reef impacts). AMX: The universities that might constitute a new Caribbean study pole are specialised in terrestrial and aquatic ecology.
TROPIMUNDO's HEIs have extensive experience teaching European and third-country students. Several HEIs jointly organize or are involved in the Master International en Biodiversité et Environnements Végétaux Tropicaux (ULB-UPMC-MNHN-UDsch), International Course Programs (ICP) of the Vlaamse Inter-Universitaire Raad - VLIR (ULB and VUB staff involved in the ICPs Master of Science in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management - Oceans & Lakes , formerly named the Master in Ecological Marine Management - Ecomama, the Master of Science in Biology - Specialisation Human Ecology and the Master of Science in Aquaculture), and joint European projects such as the Marie-Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme Coastal Research Network on Environmental Changes - CREC (ULB-VUB-UNIFI-UQ).
The key staff in TROPIMUNDO currently supervises more than 150 PhD students in their respective laboratories. They are also professors at undergraduate and graduate levels in their respective institutions, in charge of lectures in the fields relevant to TROPIMUNDO. In addition to the key academic staff, administrative staff from HEIs will participate in the organisation and implementation of the program. Leveraging their experience in international collaboration, including in international Master programs, such staff will ensure high-level management of the program, including its promotion, the call for applications, selection, admission, and follow-up of the students.