ProjectFieldschool Malawi – Learning from the past to shape the future: Environmental change, health and ecosystem…

Basic data

Fieldschool Malawi
Learning from the past to shape the future: Environmental change, health and ecosystem services of Lake Malawi
01/04/2022 to 31/03/2024
Abstract / short description:
Freshwaters and their animal and plant life are in a state of crises across the world. Yet, these ecosystems are of global significance and provide resources on which, unlike in Europe, the livelihoods of millions of people depend in sub-Saharan Africa. Academics and African universities, however, lack experts for meeting multifold challenges of saving hotspots of aquatic biodiversity.
The proposed series of two consecutive three-week field schools will be based on a sustainable network of African and German partnerships initiated during previous field schools funded by Volkswagen Foundation (2009-2014). For the first time, the field schools are initiated and conceptualized by former African participants, who will now be acting as field school lecturers. These field schools aim at training M.Sc. and Ph.D. students from DR Congo, Germany, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda in paleolimnology, aquatic ecosystem science, human health, sustainable resource use and conservation. The selected students will participate in both field schools. All five countries have important freshwater ecosystems shared with neighbouring countries under strong anthropogenic pressure. The magnitude of these impacts can only be understood by a combination of palaeolimnological methods with actualistic water ecology analyses. All these factors make Malawi a perfect training area for the proposed topic.
The proposed field schools will cover all major aspects from a) reconstructing past conditions, b) assessing the present state to c) planning the future. We will adopt an OneHealth framework, make use of a citizen science approach and will translate our findings into public outreach projects. The ultimate goals of the field schools are: a) Establishment of permanent network of interdisciplinary collaboration in paleo-environmental and aquatic sciences between African and German universities, b) Establishment of a sustainable teaching and research program at the University of Malawi in Zomba in paleoenvironmental and aquatic sciences, and c) Initiation of a long-term collaboration and of joint research and teaching projects between African scientific partners in the participating countries. This collaborative approach will open new perspectives on further research for the sake of better management of African waters in general. Most importantly, this cooperation will expose and equip young researcher with skills for further research work in their own countries.

Involved staff


Faculty of Science
University of Tübingen
Palaeobiology Research Area
Department of Geoscience, Faculty of Science

Local organizational units

Department of Geoscience
Faculty of Science
University of Tübingen


Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany


Zomba, Southern Region, Malawi

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