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CHANCE: Undergraduate Research on the Sustainability of the Danube Delta

Participate in this hands-on international and interdisciplinary research focused on a sustainability issue and conservation experiences

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CIVIS focus area
Climate, environment and energy
Open to
  • Bachelor's
Field of studies
  • Environment & Agriculture
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Environmental sciences, Urbanism, Geography
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
15 March - 14 July 2023

The academic experience is divided into two international courses, one online and one on-site in Romania. Twenty-five selected undergraduates throughout the CIVIS Universities and from the Penn State University (USA) will first participate in an online Spring semester pre-field course (1 ECTS), and in summer will complete a field practicum and post-field assignment (5 ECTS). Both online and in the field, students will work together within international groups to develop their skills in navigating complex, inter-disciplinary challenges with global implications. These are not like problems from a textbook, rather they are real-world challenges that students will engage in directly by visiting research sites along the Danube Delta; working side-by-side with scientists to carry out undergraduate research on water issues confronting this waterway; and creating opportunities to advocate for change with politicians, international agencies, and university leaders.

The ultimate goal of CHANCE is to prepare global-minded citizens who understand the importance of restoring and protecting the biodiversity of our planet's ecosystems, and who are equipped to address the challenges of our time such as energy, air, food, water, and climate change in their lifetimes. Since ecosystems cross national borders, CHANCE strives to view and to define sustainable answers for environmental realities from a global perspective. 

Main topics addressed

Students will be assigned one of five CUREs related to water issues affecting the Danube Delta. Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) are designed to engage an entire class in a research question within the context of the course itself.

  • Nutrient Overload
  • Loss of Biodiversity
  • Land Use Transformations
  • Organic Contamination and Microplastics
  • Microbiology

Learning outcomes

The unique and tested CHANCE international undergraduate research instructional model not only prepares students for rigorous STEM research through online and field experiences, but also prepares them to take action to address environmental sustainability issues confronting the Danube River basin or similar ecosystems throughout their lifetimes through the blueprints of the UN SDGs. The collaborative nature of this instructional model will be showcased and how its partners have united to reimagine higher education at the administrative, academic, and student level, to induce positive changes. These changes include fostering the development of a robust and diverse STEM workforce; strengthening the capacity of participating institutions to integrate undergraduate research into their sustainability curricula; and promoting the next generation of scientists and citizen-advocates working towards greater sustainability around the world, especially within the Danube River basin.

Dates: 15 March - 14 July 2023 Total workload: 162 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 6
Location: Bucharest, Romania Language: English (B2) 

The recognition of ECTS depends on your home university. 

Physical mobility

The physical mobility part will be running from 3 to 14 July 2023.

While students are in Romania, transnational team members will be assigned a CURE related to a select water issue affecting the Danube Delta. Over the course of a two-week period, each team will develop their scientific research laboratory skills relevant to their CURE, design a unique experiment, then head out to the field and to state-of-the-art research laboratories to carry out their experimental work. Throughout all stages of their research, students will be mentored (face-to face) by leading scientists who are engaged in research in their selected area. When students are not working in the field or analysing their data, they will have ample opportunities to learn more about the economic, environmental, social, cultural, and political factors that contribute to sustainability challenges facing the Danube River system through a series of professional lectures, guided tours, one-on-one meetings with Romanian government and non-governmental stakeholders and U.S. Embassy of Bucharest officials, and panel discussions with experts.

At the end of their CURE experience, each research team will present their work to invited university of Bucharest, Penn State, and CIVIS partner institutions, including administrators, scientists, leaders, faculty and students, as well as Romanian U.S. and EU external government and non-government stakeholders via participation in the 2023 CHANCE Romania Undergraduate Research Symposium to be held at the Faculty of Biology, University of Bucharest. 

Virtual part

Click here to find the description and schedule of the virtual part in the enclosed file entitled.


This course is open to students at CIVIS member universities. Students are required to have a working comprehension of English to follow the lectures and to be able to communicate both orally and in written form. Students also must have an interest in field research which can consist of long days and teamwork. No discipline entry requirements. This course is addressed to students with a background in natural sciences, as well as in humanities and social sciences applied to environmental research.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 30 November 2022 with the following information:

  • Motivation letter (1/2 page – 1 page max) - description of your professional competency and personal motivation (i.e. past experience and motivation in choosing this program). Please include 2 lines about yourself that indicate why you are the right candidate to be selected for this programme (qualities, skills you think you can bring?). Why do you think that this programme can support your development?
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Students must have an interest in field research

The personal statement and academic reference will be reviewed. We will assess the academic potential, motivation, and core skills required for the programme.


Click here for more information on the course assessment.

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

GDPR Consent

The CIVIS alliance and its member universities will treat the information you provide with respect. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information on our privacy practices. By applying to this course you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

CHANCE Leadership (Penn State University)

  • Jacqueline McLaughlin, Ph.D. - Founding Director CHANCE, Associate Professor of Biology
  • Kathleen Fadigan, Ed.D. - Specialist in Curriculum, Instruction and Technology in Education, CHANCE co-instructor

University of Bucharest

  • Carmen Postolache, Ph.D., Dean, Faculty of Biology
  • Luminița Măruțescu, Ph.D., Faculty of Biology
  • Corina Bradu, Ph.D., Faculty of Biology
  • Mihaela Verga, Ph.D., Faculty of Geography
  • Iasmina Moza, Ph.D., Faculty of Biology

Université Libre de Bruxelles

  • Claire Baudoux, Ph.D., Faculty of Sciences
  • Claire Chauveau, Ph.D., Faculty of Sciences
  • Valentin Barberoux, Ph.D., Faculty of Sciences
  • Ginevra Lilli, Ph.D., Faculty of Sciences


Aix-Marseille Université

  • Alain Veron, Ph.D., CEREGE