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Fostering sustainable development: the role of Higher Education. Plans, progress and values

Webinar - 15 December 2020 - 14.30 CET

In the second of its webinars the MCO collaborated with the International Universities Association (IAU) to deliver a webinar on Fostering sustainable development: the role of higher education - plans, progress and values. Eighty people participated from almost 50 countries, thereby reflecting the broad geographical spread of the Observatory.

Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General of IAU set out the role which IAU plays as the voice for Higher Education, with sustainable development as one of its key thematic priorities so as to support the integration of sustainable development fully into higher education strategies. IAU provides a global resource and networking hub for universities. Clusters, each led by a university, had been established for each of the SDGs.

A case study on SDG 8 ‘Decent work and economic growth’, led by the University of Gothenburg (UoG), was presented by its Rector Eva Wiberg. Styled ‘a university for the world’ UoG was the first university in the world to be environmentally certified under both ISO 14001 and EMAS. Its extensive international and local engagements were focused on applied action research and policy interaction. SDG 8 pervaded all that the University did and involved all staff and students leading to multi-disciplinary approaches to sustainable development.

The final speaker, Sijbolt Noorda, President of the MCO’s Governing Council, addressed the question as to why universities should reinforce their value base to achieve real engagement. He referred to the new Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 (MCU 2020) in which universities acknowledge that they have a responsibility to engage with and respond to the aspirations and challenges of the world and to the communities they serve, to benefit humanity and contribute to sustainability. Universities needed to focus on these challenges in terms of their curriculum, research and learning strategies, interdisciplinarity and ensure that these were embedded in the university and all staff and students were engaged with them. Shared values were vital to achieve this and enable universities to strengthen their role in the preservation of the planet.

Challenging questions followed including how students and researchers might best be fully engaged in this and how universities might better interact with NGOs and other agencies in society and how universities might best address their own sustainability.

A recording of the webinar is available and copies of the presentations can be found at the right of this page.

The MCO’s next webinar will be in the early spring and will be in association with the European Universities Association on the Universities 2030 report which is due for publication early in the New Year.

Watch out for an email and social media for news of how to book.

Fostering sustainable development: the role of higher education. Plans, progress and values - Webinar recording