The Research Group for Earth Observation (rgeo) in the Department of Geography at the Heidelberg University of Education

The Research Group for Earth Observation (rgeo) consists of the division “Physical Geography and its Didactics“, headed by Prof. Dr. Alexander Siegmund, in the Department of Geography at the Heidelberg University of Education.  Furthermore, the Department of Geography is also home to the division "Human Geography and its Didactic" (Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Hupke).

The current research priorities of the Research Group for Earth Observation (rgeo) are at the interface of aspects of geographical science, geographical methods and geographical education.


Geographical Science

With regard to geographical science, the research group is specialized in the analysis and evaluation of land use change as well as the acquisition and modeling of diverse spatial information, especially with relevance to geo-ecology (e.g. regional climate models, scenarios of settlement development). Degeneration, vulnerability and feasibility analyses – which, inter alia, constitute the basis for concepts of sustainable land use development – are conducted applying geo-ecological information systems. The regional foci are, besides Central Europe (in particular Southwestern Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia), semi-arid island ecosystems such as the Canary Islands and Cape Verde as well as Chile.

Geographical Methods

With regard to geographical methods, the foci of the group’s research projects are the application of satellite and aerial image-based methods for environmental monitoring, the application of geographic information systems and the further development of new media in school education.

Geographical Education

With regard to geographical education, the working areas are particularly the development of didactic concepts and interactive working and learning platforms for the application of digital geomedia such as satellite images, geographic information systems etc. in school and out-of-school environmental education. Thematically, they predominantly deal with current issues of human-environment interactions. Interlinked with adaptive learning environments, individual learning processes are supported and competencies such as the Geographic System Competence are assessed. The “GIS-Station, Klaus-Tschira-Centre of Competence for digital Geo-media”, as out-of-school learning location, pools the competences associated with that.

Another main focus is the development of environmental education learning modules in the topic area of "Global Change".  In this context, the in-house “Geco-Lab, Centre of Competence for Geo-ecological Space Exploration” serves as a teaching and learning laboratory for the analysis of geo-ecological interdependencies as well as for the education and professional development of school and university students, teachers and further multipliers. Different research and development projects – ranging from young people’s risk awareness in the context of global climate change to the evaluation of strategies for adapting to the consequences of regional climate change - result in learning modules that link in-field observations, laboratory analysis and model experiments. This serves es a starting point for various studies evaluating fostering options of geographical system thinking.

In the working and research focus "World Heritage" the different comeptence areas of the Research Group for Earth Observation (rgeo) in the areas of remote sensing and GIS-based environmental observation (observation) are combined with conveying the respective findings to adolescents, multipliers and the general public. The foci of the division in the area education for sustainable development are additionally pooled by a membership in the interdisciplinary Institute for Science, Technology, Society (STS) of the Heidelberg University of Education and a close cooperation with the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE) of the University of Heidelberg.

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