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ISE partnership in UE4SD Project – joining the COPERNICUS Alliance of an European Network of Higher Education Institutions for Sustainable Development

DU, ISE has joined the COPERNICUS Alliance, a European Network of Higher Education Institutions for Sustainable Development and 55 higher educational institutions have joined their efforts and applied for the Lifelong Learning Program’s project UE4SD that has started its work on October 1, 2014. The project of a Lifelong Learning Programm is coordinated by a Steering Group (SG) composed by the University of Gloucestershire (UoG, lead partner and host of COPERNICUS Alliance, UK), Leuphana University (ULG, Germany), Charles University (CUNI, Czech Republic) and the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM, Spain).(Project Nr 540051-LLP-1-2013-1-UK-ERASMUS-ENW. See the project partnership´s map:

UE4SD is a partnership of 55 higher education institutions, organisations and associations in 34 countries seeking pathways for progressing sustainability innovation in the higher education (HE) curriculum. This is important as the HE sector is well positioned to bring about change for sustainable development (SD) as it prepares the future generation of leaders and professionals, challenges dominant paradigms, produces ground - breaking research and plays an important role in facilitating social change.

The quality of academic provision in HE requires institutional structures which support sustainability values and practice, but also university educators who are able to embed Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) principles into their teaching and research. However, little is known of the ESD competences of university educators and how these are supported and developed. This is because research, and practice, in HE have focused on student rather than staff learning in the area of sustainability.

UE4SD aims to close this knowledge gap and work in partnership to map opportunities for university educators to develop ESD competences through professional development and identify how competences can be best developed to enhance quality academic practice in the area of sustainability. It will identify leading practice in this area in Europe and develop a publication and online platform of resources to support changes to curriculum development and academic provision in universities. The network will also frame and trial an academy for ESD in HE (sustainability in HE professional development and networking platform) to provide guidance to universities on how to support  the development of ESD competences of educators.

UE4SD is a large network, and have developed a regional management system which is aimed at facilitating the project's coordination and communication, but also to ensure that regional scenarios and contexts are visible throughout the project. The network has been divided into four different regional hubs (northern, southern, eastern and western Europe) which are composed by 8-20 partners and coordinated by a regional coordinator, and Daugavpils University is one of the participants in the project. Project coordination and communication will be done through these hubs during the lifespan of the project. The project will focus on transforming higher education towards sustainability.

The project aims to enhanse the development of ESD competencies of University educators so that they can drive innovation for sustainability in the curriculum. ESD requires university educators to recast the curriculum through using innovative and creative pedagogical approaches which engage learners critically and reflectively on SD issues. ESD also enhances their ability to participate in learning activities and contributions professionally and personally to improving quality of life. The HE sector plays a critical role in preparing future professionals to build a greener economy and resilient communities. However, progress in modernising the curriculum towards SD is complex. UE4SD aims to provide guidance and support to European universities to drive innovation for SD in the curriculum and enhance teaching and learning quality.