Higher education plays an important role in the transition process towards a sustainable society. In higher education, professionals, policy makers and consumers are prepared for their future role. Given the complexity of sustainability issues, characterised by their interconnectedness of economic, social and ecological aspects, and supplemented with a factor of uncertainty, we have to ask ourselves the question if and how our students are prepared for their role in fostering sustainable societies.
The project ‘ECHO for a Sustainable Future: Transition towards Sustainable Higher Education’ wants to foster the transition towards sustainable higher education, with a focus on two specific themes: (1) prepare students for their future role in the sustainability transition, by integrating competences for sustainable development; (2) ‘walk our talk’ as a higher education institution, by testing and applying instruments for sustainable higher education.
The project starts with a screening of the curriculum of several economic study programs, to find out where and how sustainability is already integrated within these programs. The instrument used for this screening is the ‘Curriculumscan’, a tool developed by the Dutch organisation for Sustainable Higher Education (DHO Nederland). The Curriculumscan allows us to perform a baseline assessment of the current state of sustainability integration in economic curricula, and the outcomes will guide the further integration process.
Based on the results of the curriculumscan, an educational integration trajectory will be defined, focusing on following aspects: (1) defining competences for sustainable development; (2) integrating these competences in the competence schemes of the study programs; (3) develop pedagogical tools; (4) integrate these tools in the curriculum; (5) professional development trajectory for our educators to start working with the competences and tools.
In order to assess the state of organisational integration of sustainability within the institution, a sustainability assessment of the university system will be performed, based on the AISHE 2.0 instrument. AISHE 2.0 is the new version of the Assessment Instrument for Sustainability in Higher Education, developed by a group of international experts in the field of sustainable higher education. The instrument has a modular structure, and focuses on (1) policy, (2) education, (3) research, (4) societal role, (5) campus operations.
Based on the results of the AISHE 2.0 assessment, an organisational integration trajectory will be defined, focusing on following aspects: (1) vision, mission and policy development, (2) working group for sustainable higher education, (3) organisational integration in education, research, societal role and campus operations, (4) periodic assessment of organisational integration, (5) reporting of sustainability integration.
The results of the project, which runs for two years (2014-2016), will be presented at a national conference in December 2015.
This project is run by Leuven University College, Department of Business Studies (KHLeuven – ECHO), and supported by the National Lottery of Belgium.