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S Agenda 2030

Agenda 2030

Chair: Lenelis Kruse

Contributors are Bror Giesenbauer, Helen Kopnina, and Parto Teherani-Krönner

Debaters: Angela Franz-Balsen.



Presentation by Lenelis Kruse: "Agenda 2030" and orientation towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - Implications for curriculum development and didactics in higher education" - Organized Section Part 1


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It is apparent that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from 2015 for 2030 are hardly achievable. All the more, the educational system is expected to boost awareness and competences of the younger generation. In comparison to good progress in schools (ESD), e.g. the “whole institution approach” and the push through “Fridays for Future”, comprehensive activities at university level (HESD) remain rare. International exchange of best practices and research on HESD is of major importance. Networks like the “International Association of Universities, AIU” facilitate this learning from each other (www.iau-hesd.net); the Society of Human Ecology (SHE), too, is supporting human ecologists to update their teaching and research methods (https://www.societyforhumanecology.org/). After years of mainly virtual communication, this COHE-conference returns to face-to-face communication. We want to exchange experiences from higher education institutions that have begun to focus on SDGs and how they can profit or not from the political impact of the label “Agenda 2030”: Which of the SDGs or their subgoals can be taken up in sustainability curricula, which not? Which kind of projects, methods and didactical approaches have been practiced in your higher education institutions? Are the already established ones fitting the orientation towards SDGs, or do we need additional experimental concepts? How could the more holistic approaches in Human and Cultural Ecology contribute?


Presentation by Helen Kopnina: "What is wrong with sustainable development & Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in higher education and what can be done better?" - Organized Section Part 2


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This present will discuss social, environmental, and ecological justice in education for sustainable development (ESD) and Education for Sustainable Development Goals (ESDG). The concept of sustainable development and, by extension, the ESD, places heavy emphasis on the economic and social aspects of sustainability. However, the ESD falls short of recognizing ecological justice, or recognition that nonhumans also have a right to exist and flourish. The audience will be asked to reflect on the three pillars of sustainable development: society, economy, and environment, linking these to the fourth concept, ecological justice or biospheric egalitarianism. There are initiatives under the banner of "sustainability" aplenty, ranging from ESD's preoccupation with human welfare, from health to human rights, to gender equality, to actions such as recycling, or transformative ideas concerning the circular economy. The new Green Deal presently embraced by the EU, while currently popular, might need to be compared to the previously taken steps in ways forward and backward. There might be the need to turn back to the 1970’s, e.g. limits to growth report and indeed the Belgrade charter than rushing forward with yet another optimistic “deal”.


Presentation by Bror Giesenbauer: "The role of networks for Sustainable Development at higher education institutions" - Organized Section Part 3


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Inter-university networks have the potential of bridging highly specialized institutions – and could indeed be seen as a forerunner of a networked an integrative university. This type of university model seems to be needed if higher education institutions (HEIs) want to step up to become pivotal change agents for sustainable development (SD). Meanwhile, HEIs are facing other increasingly complex demands simultaneously, such as massification, globalization, marketization and digitalization. Overall, adopting a multi-dimensional and networked organizational model seems to be needed for increasing the capacity to deal with complexity. This might, for example,  result in a stronger focus on transdisciplinary research and research-based learning. Networks could play a vital role in facilitating this type of transformation of HEIs from the inside out – supporting HEIs in opening up towards each other and towards various external stakeholders. In this workshop the German Society for Sustainability at Higher Education Institutions (DG HochN) will present its networking concept which aims at increasing co-creation and cross-sectoral collaboration within higher education.