COPERNICUS Alliance - European Network on Higher Education for Sustainable Development

The COPERNICUS Alliance is a European network of universities and colleges committed to transformational learning and change for sustainable development. It aims to enable European higher education institutions and their partners to jointly identify challenges in higher education for sustainable development and spearhead development of processes, tools, and knowledge to address these challenges from a whole-institution perspective.

An increasing number of higher education institutions in Europe acknowledge the urgent need for rapid and radical transformation towards sustainable development and agree that higher education has an important role to play in this process. The question is: How can this role be assumed and what values should lead the process? Four stumbling blocks need to be addressed to answer the question.

First, value-based research and teaching are often believed to be problematical by academics, who consider freedom of thinking to be the highest good at a university; sustainable development is often perceived as an imposed norm and therefore rejected on principle.

Second, assessment processes are currently measuring what can be measured instead of what should be measured, and the entire institutional setup of higher education institutions relies on competition rather than on collaboration.

Third, activities at higher education institutions tend to be compartmentalized; while this is necessary to ensure expertise and efficiency in science, teaching, and operations, it also hampers the systemic, interdisciplinary, and inter-operational approach needed for sustainable development and for moving from “knowing to doing”.

Once these three stumbling blocks have been addressed, a fourth stumbling block remains: Are we able to take up the challenge of teaching and researching with sustainable development in mind? This requires a focus on competences in addition to knowledge, as well as a shift from teaching to learning – which lecturers find challenging, in particular given the notorious lack of professional development to support these changes towards education for sustainable development.

More Information

To view the COPERNICUS Alliance Action Plan, follow the link here or check out their website.

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IAU and COPERNICUS Alliance join forces to work on HESD

IAU and COPERNICUS Alliance signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD).

Rio Declaration 1992 and Rio+20 2012 renewed commitments from HE

The UN Conferences on Sustainable Development, in particular in 1992 and 2012, marked milestones for change and provided a platform for exchange, for all stakeholders. Higher Education strongly advocated for its role early on and mobilised the HE community to recognise the need for action and take the next steps. IAU and partners have been supporting these efforts in various ways.

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