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Environmental challenges facing the Danube River

Engage in research experiences focused on environmental challenges facing the Danube River basin and its Delta

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CIVIS focus area
Climate, environment and energy
Open to
  • Master's
Field of studies
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Environment & Agriculture
  • Law
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Environmental sciences, Urbanism, Geography
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
4 September - 15 December 2023

The program consists of two interconnected activities, online and on-site, in Delta Danube (University of Bucharest). The enrolled students will first participate in an online pre-field course followed by one week of field research activity, and then they will complete an online post-field course.

In this program, the students will be involved in experience-based activities which include travel to research sites along the Danube River basin and laboratory work, that will enable them to reflect and advocate on environmental sustainability problems. The students will learn and collaborate together to develop their knowledge, skills and critical thinking needed for addressing environmental challenges. The program objective is to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to find answers to the environmental issues. 

Main topics addressed

  • Field strategies and related issues (online) will 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 research activity (face-to-face) will include 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 (stakeholder: International Association for Danube Research

Learning outcomes

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

  • Familiarise 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.


This master course has been inspired by the program “Global Conservation: Environmental Challenges Facing the Danube River”, implemented in Romania, in two successful editions (2021 and 2022), by the University of Bucharest and Penn State University within the framework of the Penn State CHANCE EMBEDDED FIELD program. This was initiated by Dr Jacqueline S. McLaughlin, Associate Professor of Biology and CHANCE director.

Dates: 4 September - 15 December 2023 Total workload: 160 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 6
Location: Sfântu Gheorghe Village (Tulcea), Romania Language: English (B1) 

Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university. 

Physical mobility

The physical mobility part will be running from 18 to 22 September 2023. Selected students will travel to Sfântu Gheorghe Village (Tulcea), in Romania. The activities will take place at the Sfântu Gheorghe Marine and Fluvial Research Station of the University of Bucharest.

During the 5-days physical mobility component the students will interact and carry out activities that will increase their engagement. These experience-based activities will include travel to research sites along the Danube River basin, collaborative work together with researchers, that will enable them to reflect and advocate on environmental sustainability problems. 

Lectures, guided tours, meetings discussions with local communities will support students to learn about the different factors (political, environmental, social, economic) impacting the Danube River basin.

Virtual part

The virtual part will be running from 4 September to 15 December 2023. The virtual component of the program will include 14 sessions, 1 session of 4 hours per week, are underdevelopment and will be provided in due course.

The virtual mobility component of the program consists of a pre-field online course and a post-field online course.

The pre-field online introductory lectures will prepare students for the 1-week field research activity. Before traveling they will be familiarised 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 courses of the program will support students to engage in the preparation and communication of their multidisciplinary research results using their own data on environmental problems facing the Danube River basin and its Delta and propose solutions for the stakeholders. 


This course is for Master's students at CIVIS member universities with a background in natural sciences, as well as in humanities and social sciences applied to environmental research. Students should have an interest in field research and team work.

Students are also required to have a working comprehension of English to follow the lectures, and to be able to communicate both orally and in the written form. 

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.

Application process

Interested students should apply by filling in the online application form by 8 March 2023.

Applications will be evaluated based on the CV and motivation letter. Students should also provide a letter of recommendation.

Apply now


  • Questions with multiple choices on the delivered Lectures (50%)
  • Presentation on different research topics (30%)
  • Research report (20%)

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.

  • Isabelle George, Professor, Laboratoire d’Ecologie des Systèmes Aquatiques/Laboratory of Ecology of Aquatic Systems, Université libre de Bruxelles
  • Niki Evelpidou, Professor, Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Alain Veron, Senior Researcher CEREGE, Aix-Marseille Université
  • Andreas Lang, Professor, Dept. Environment and Biodiversity, University of Salzburg
  • Luminita Marutescu, Associate Professor, Faculty of Biology, University of Bucharest,
  • Carmen Postolache, Professor, Dean of Faculty of Biology, University of Bucharest
  • Carmen Chifiriuc, Professor, Vice Rector for Research, University of Bucharest
  • Mihaela Verga, Lecturer, Faculty of Geography, University of Bucharest
  • Corina Bradu, Associate Professor, Faculty of Biology, University of Bucharest