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Environmental challenges facing Danube River

Explore more research experiences focused on environmental challenges facing the Danube River basin

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CIVIS focus area
Climate, environment and energy
Open to
  • Master's
  • Phd
  • PhD candidates/students
Field of studies
  • Art, Design and Media
  • Business and Management
  • Computer Science and IT
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Environment & Agriculture
  • Law
  • Medicine and Health
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Environmental sciences, Urbanism, Geography
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
5 September - 12 December 2024

The program is an evidence-based student-centered approach aiming to engage students in research experiences focused on environmental challenges facing the Danube River basin. The program consists of two interconnected activities, online and on-site (in-field), in the Danube River basin region - The Iron Gates, Danube Gorges. Guided by professors, both online and in the field, students will work together in international groups to develop problem-solving skills necessary to address real world sustainability challenges and make a positive difference in their communities. During the field activity, students will engage in experience-based activities by travelling to research sites along the Danube River basin and working together with scientists to carry out research on various environmental sustainability issues, including: geomorphology and slope stability, socio-economic issues, water chemical and microbiological status and biodiversity conservation. The collaborative work across disciplines will provide students the opportunity to develop their interdisciplinary competencies needed for addressing today's sustainability challenges. 

Main topics addressed

  • Field strategies and related issues (online)- include description of the site and its heterogeneity, sampling strategies, methodologies, measured parameters: physical – pH, conductivity, oxygen, temperature; chemical: N species (total – organic, inorganic), organic C (organic matter); metals; biological: invasive plant species, zoobenthos, microbial communities, pathogens; geomorphology, landscape and soil evolution; GIS in field mapping.
  • Field activity (physical) - field and laboratory activities, data analysis, results interpretation and science communication. 
  • Post field component (online):
    - Global water issues and interlinks with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (water scarcity, water quality, hydropower, industrial wastewaters, ground water resources).
    - Climate change and the water cycle.
    - Water issues affecting the Danube River: socio-economic, political and environmental challenges.

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, the student will be able to:

  • Familiarize with the basic concepts, disciplines and methodologies required for the study of environmental challenges and particularly, with the approaches commonly used in the assessment of the aquatic ecosystems’ health.
  • Elaborate evidence-based studies to identify environmental problems, and further advocate on environmental sustainability issues and recommend solutions for supporting the policy making process.
  • Understand a range of evaluative tools and methods available for measuring the impact of climate changes and anthropogenic stressors on the ecosystems’ health in general and of aquatic fluxes, in particular.
  • Critically reflect on environmental issues.
  • Demonstrate insight on the impacts of society on ecosystems and human beings and in the need of (re)connecting people with the natural world.
  • Contribute to increasing awareness, propose initiatives and actions for promoting sustainability practices through education and outreach to stakeholders

Students will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.

Dates:  5 September- 12 December 2024 Total workload: 162 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 6*
Location: Bucharest, Romania Language: English (B1)

*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility

The physical mobility part will be running from 9 to 13 September 2024 in Bucharest, Romania - Faculty of Biology at University of Bucharest and in Orsova, Romania, Orsova Research Station, at University of Bucharest. 

Students will work in groups to carry out research projects focusing on the ecological, social and economic issues that impact the Danube River basin. The 1-week field experience will include:

  • Guided inquiry-based field research focused on the ecology, biodiversity of the Danube River and social and economic issues;
  • Training in specific field methods, related to assigned research topic;
  • Meeting discussions with relevant stakeholders, including local authorities, environmental protection agency, Orșova shipyard, Administration of the Iron Gates Natural Park, on environmental related topics;
  • Museum visits - Iron Gates Hydropower I Museum;

The timetable of the planned field activity for the mobility week are described in the file attached (Field activity September).

Virtual part

The virtual part will be running from 5 September to 12 December 2024.

The pre-field introductory lecture will prepare students for the field activity. Before traveling they will be familiarized with the research site, sampling strategies, methodologies, and various measured parameters: physical – pH, conductivity, oxygen, temperature; chemical: N species (total – organic, inorganic), organic C (organic matter); metals; biological: invasive plant species, zoobenthos, microbial communities, pathogens; geomorphology, landscape, and soil evolution; GIS in field mapping. The post-field online component of the program will support students to engage in the preparation and communication of their multidisciplinary research results using their own data on environmental issues facing the Danube River basin and propose solutions for the stakeholders. 

The planned online sessions are described in the file attached (Virtual course plan).


This course is open to Master's and PhD students at CIVIS member universities with a background and/or interest in Natural Sciences, as well as in Humanities and Social Sciences applied to environmental research. There are no discipline entry requirements needed. 

- Research skills, content knowledge, critical thinking, data analysis and interpretation, professional and scientific communication (written and oral), teamwork, cultural competence, resilience, adaptability, self efficacy and confidence are also considered as desirable skills for the students in order to follow the course.

- Students should have a good comprehension of English (B1) to follow the lectures. 
- A letter of recommendation signed by an academic from the student's home university is also considered as additional requirement.

NB: Visiting Students - Erasmus Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for your selected CIVIS programme, you must be a fully enrolled student at your CIVIS home university at the time you will be undertaking the programme. Click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria.

Students from CIVIS’ strategic partner universities in Africa cannot apply for participation in this course.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 25 February 2024, including:

  • CV
  • Motivation letter
  • Level of English (B1)
  • Letter of recommendation (signed by an academic from the student's home university)

Students' applications will be evaluated based on the personal statement and academic reference and also the academic potential, motivation, and core skills required for the program.

Apply now


Students will be assessed based on:

• Student presentations (40%)

• Student research report (60%)

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.

  • Alain Veron, Senior Researcher in Environmental Geochemistry, CEREGE, Aix-Marseille Université
  • Isabelle George, Professor in Ecology of Aquatic Systems, Université libre de Bruxelles
  • Andreas Lang, Professor of Geomorphology, Paris Lodron University of Salzburg
  • Niki Evelpidou, Professor of Geomorphology and Geoinformatics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Anna Karkani, Researcher in Geology & Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Carmen Postolache, Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Bucharest
  • Luminita Marutescu, Associate Professor in Microbial Ecology, University of Bucharest
  • Paulina Anastasiu, Professor of Botany, University of Bucharest
  • Corina Bradu, Professor of Environmental Chemistry, University of Bucharest
  • Geta Rasnoveanu, Professor in Freshwater Biodiversity, University of Bucharest
  • Florina Botez, Teaching Assistant in Ecology and Biogeochemistry, University of Bucharest
  • Mihaela Verga, Lecturer of Geomorphology, University of Bucharest
  • Radu-Daniel Pintilii, Associate professor in Human and Economical Geography, University of Bucharest
  • Marian Marin, Associate Professor in Geography, University of Bucharest