The photo is from DynSys' summer school in August 2019 (before the Covid-19 crises), where 44 young researchers got hands-on experience with statistical modelling techniques for smart energy systems and intelligent energy savings, including calculating solar energy gain in buildings.

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals can benefit from a significant change in summer schools

Thursday 25 Mar 21


Henrik Madsen
Professor, Head of section
DTU Compute
+45 45 25 34 08


Peder Bacher
Associate Professor
DTU Compute
+45 45 25 30 75


Lars D. Christoffersen
Senior Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Student Affairs
Office for Study Programmes and Student Affairs
+45 45 25 10 09

Join the summer school 2021

The summer school Time Series Analysis - with a focus on Modelling and Forecasting in Energy Systems. Online summer school 23. to 27. August 2021. In any case, participation can be online. If restrictions allow, it will also be possible to be physically present at DTU, Denmark:

Learn more here

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Sources: DTU's guidelines for transport and meeting activity and UN

Last year, the pandemic changed several of the traditional summer schools to online courses. The reorganization supports DTU's goal of promoting the UN's SDG. And now DTU is evaluating the experiences.

Large parts of Denmark are looking forward to reopening after the Corona lockdown, thus also the field of education. At DTU, we are in the process of evaluating the experiences from last year's hybrid and virtual teaching to see what to use going forward.

In the section for Dynamic Systems (DynSys) at DTU Compute, Professor Henrik Madsen and his team have gathered important experiences that will be useful in future.

Henrik Madsen and a small team were booked to teach at a summer school in Rio de Janeiro in July 2020 for 40 participants. But during the spring, it became clear that the Corona crisis made it impossible to travel to Brazil, so the course was postponed to November and at the same time changed to an online course.

DynSys' summer school at DTU in August also had to be rethought, so they went online with 55 participants, primarily from Europe, while 20 were physically present at DTU. It went so well that the department's summer schools will in future in any cases be hybrid or 100 % online.

"After all, our summer school is precisely about how to achieve CO2 savings and create a fossil-free future. So at a time when we have to take the climate into account, it is also only natural that participants can follow online from home without travelling to the other side of the globe to participate," says Henrik Madsen.

Online courses speak directly into the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, as DTU as a university works from. Newly adopted guidelines for transport and meeting activity for DTU's employees and students must reduce DTU's transport-related CO emissions by utilizing digitalisation to promote virtual meeting and teaching activity.

Reach out to new audiences online

Online education also promotes SDG 4, which aims to ensure equal access for all to quality education and promote opportunities for all lifelong learning opportunities. Because online, DTU's knowledge reaches further than usual.

"After all, our summer school is precisely about how to achieve CO2 savings and create a fossil-free future. So at a time when we have to take the climate into account, it is also only natural that participants can follow online."
Henrik Madsen, Professor at DTU Compute

For example, the 40 participants in the ‘Rio course’ came from Africa and Asia as well as North and South America, Australia and several European countries.

"Many of the participants would probably not have been able to afford to travel to Rio if the summer school had taken place there. We rarely see people from eg the Caribbean and Indonesia at conferences and summer schools. I personally think that it also gave me wind beneath my wings to teach researchers from all around the world online," says Henrik Madsen.

DTU gathers experience

However, the pandemic does not change the fact that DTU is basically a physical university, emphasizes Lars Christoffersen, dean of bachelor programs and study environment at DTU:

"We see a great value in meeting physically. In the field of continuing education, however, there are still more things online. And we will also do that in other contexts. But we have not made a decision about it yet. We are still in the process of picking up on good experiences and things that have not worked well online."

"But it is clear that when you at courses and summer schools see that students come from all over the world, it offers new opportunities. So it's nice to test the format and share the experience," says the dean.

Peder Bacher, Associate Professor and Head of DynSys' the annual summer school in August, had prepared the assignment part together with two PhD students for the Rio course. He usually prefers physical education:

"I want the students to feel that they participate in something social and network at the summer school. That's not quite so easy when we do not know each other in advance and sit online in different time zones. So we need to work more on that. But I also have to acknowledge the value for 'humanity' when people around the world have the opportunity to participate," Peder Bacher says.

The photo in the top of the article is from the summer school in 2019, before the Covid-19 crises.

About the Rio Summer School

  • At the summer school 'Renewable Energy Forecasting - Theory and Practice Forecasting', the students worked with 'forecasting', where based on older and new data, a forecast is calculated for energy consumption in the near future to integrate more renewable energy and thus counteract climate change.
  • The Rio course should have been an intensive two-day course in Rio, but it was changed to four online course days with teaching between 20 and 23 Danish time. Before the teaching started, the participants had prepared through video from DTU and text as well as the collaboration on the day's assignment in groups via Zoom.
  • In an evaluation, the students subsequently handed out positions on a scale from 1 (poor) to 5 (best). Half of the answers was 5, a few single 3 and the rest 4 supplemented with ratings such as good, very good and excellent. The DTU team will use the experience in the next online course.

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