ECO-UNESCO is currently involved with a new education initiative which is planning to enhance the way teaching and learning occurs at the university level to equip students with the skills needed to counter increasing social, economic and environmental inequalities.
University Educators for Sustainable Development (UE4SD) is a project that brings together 55 partners (mainly universities) from 33 countries across Europe and beyond. ECO-UNESCO is the Irish partner for this project which is seeking to re-orient higher education curriculum, particularly at third level in order to incorporate sustainable development into third level institutions. The 3 year-project, funded by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Programme – Erasmus Academic Networks, will focus on linking Education for Sustainable Development and the drive to improve quality in higher education generally.
UE4SD will seek to innovate academic practice and curriculum by creating opportunities for university educators to develop professional competences and the academic leadership capabilities linked to Education for Sustainable Development. In other words, it will support teaching colleagues, to enable them to prepare students, regardless of their courses or specialisation, to understand and apply their professional and global responsibilities in sustainability. Ultimately, it seeks to contribute to the reorientation of higher education so that it is more future facing and able to support the construction of a better world.
Commenting on the initiative ECO-UNESCO National Director Elaine Nevin said “ECO-UNESCO are delighted to be a part of this EU project and we look forward to working our EU partners on ways of enhancing competencies related to Education for Sustainable Development in third level educators in Ireland.’
The project focus is innovative as not much is known about how the Education for Sustainable Development competences of university educators are supported and developed. To overcome this barrier, project partners will conduct a grounded study to map and analyse existing professional development opportunities in Education for Sustainable development at a country and regional level. A systemic collection of information will result into four European sub-regional mapping reports and one state of the art report across all 33 partner countries. Leading practice will be identified and will form the basis of a publication and online platform of resources. These project resources will support and Academy of Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education which seeks to support higher education institutions to implement change programmes in the area of Education for Sustainable Development and professional development.
UE4SD activities are closely associated with COPERNICUS Alliance, the European Network of Higher Education for Sustainable Development, and the “Rio+20 Treaty on Higher Education” which was launched at the UN United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The project is led by the University of Gloucestershire (UK) who works very closely with three core partners: Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain), Charles University (Czech Republic) and Leuphana University of Lunenburg (Germany). ECO-UNESCO is a UE4SD partner and will be sharing and comparing professional experiences with other partner institutions, seeking to drive curriculum change for sustainability through a focus on Education for Sustainable development capabilities.
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