Focus of the Network

In recent years we have seen a rise of initiatives which have created momentum to address ESD in higher education and which have pointed to the urgency of advancing issues regarding teaching and learning quality and professional development through ESD competences. Perhaps the most important ones are the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD, 2005-2014), the UNECE ESD Competence Framework for Educators (2011) and the People’s Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education (2012).

There is a global agreement that future quality academic practice in higher education requires institutional structures which support sustainability principles and practice, but also university educators who are motivated and capable of embedding sustainability in their teaching and research. However, little is known to date on what ESD means in relation to the quality of teaching and learning; how universities can respond to this; what strategic concerns have university educators in relation to ESD; and, how educators develop ESD competences through training and professional development in universities. UE4SD seeks to close these knowledge gaps through:

  • Mapping opportunities for university educators to develop ESD competences through professional development.
  • Identifying quality issues associated with the development of ESD competences of educators in universities.
  • Identifying and capturing leading practice in the area of ESD competences and professional development in universities as well as develop an online database of resources.
  • Framing and trialling a Sustainability in Higher Education Professional Development and Networking Platform in Europe (Sustainability in Higher Education Academy).
  • Providing strategic advice on how to develop the ESD competences of educators.

Through European and international co-operation, SPHEre will undertake grounded studies to further understand the links amongst teaching and learning quality, professional development and ESD competences. It will provide guidance to universities to enhance the quality of teaching of learning in the area of sustainability.


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