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Dr. Karatzoglou Benjamin University of Macedonia.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr. Karatzoglou Benjamin University of Macedonia."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr. Karatzoglou Benjamin University of Macedonia

2 Introduction The Brundtland Commission Report emphasized the importance of cooperation among the various stakeholders at the regional, national and global level as a precondition toward a sustainable future Agenda 21, released at the Rio Summit, addressed the potential of the scientific and the technological community to make an effective contribution to the decision making processes concerning environment and development and stressed the role of academia in such an effort The last decade Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have been considered by the society significant contributors to the promotion of sustainability and a respective role has been assigned to them

3 The contribution of Universities to sustainable regional development as recorded in relevant academic literature. The presentation includes: the role of partnerships and networking in the effort to pursue SD; the motives, constraints, and conditions which favor or hamper strong regional engagement for Universities; good practices applied; the Regional Centers of Expertise (RCEs) as examples of innovative institutional networking mechanisms. an overview of the literature on education for sustainable development (ESD) a discussion and critical analysis of the scope, strengths and weaknesses of the case-study type articles that flourish in the literature, regarding their potential to enhance the usefulness of the literature for future interested parties

4 Universities and regional sustainable development Universities are expected to add value to a region by offering: a range of tangible identified benefits such as population growth, employment opportunities, enhanced local GDP, housing demand and spin-offs. flexible and innovative regional responses and contribution to the transformation of the area into a ‘learning region’ and to the growth of local ‘knowledge economy’. The value that Universities add on regions closely correlates with their ‘embeddedness’ in the local society, economy and activities and their ability to monitor and respond to internal and external changes by generating and managing relevant information and knowledge

5 The literature review discloses that all authors highlight very similar ways in which Universities can contribute to regional SD. Most typical suggestions include: A change in the Universities’ own management practices, for instance their involvement in recycling schemes, energy efficiency initiatives, or the implementation of an environmental management system (EMS); Promotion of tacit skills beyond traditional codified knowledge development, including integration, synthesis, critical reasoning, and system-thinking skills, expected to support students and researchers to cope with the future multi-disciplinary complex challenges of sustainability The assumption of a leading role in coordinating, promoting, and enhancing the engagement of local authorities and other societal stakeholders to design and implement regional sustainability plans by acting as sources of technical expertise

6 Barriers to the engagement of Universities in regional SD initiatives Literature abounds with examples of good practices and effective alliances set between Universities and local actors. Fewer published articles refer to barriers to change, collaboration failures, incentives and disincentives for engagement, or suggested performance indicators. Barriers described in the literature typically entail organizational factors, such as the lack of incentives, inadequate financial resources, limited creativity, lack of staff expertise or awareness, shortage of time for members of the faculty because of other more urgent priorities. Lack of institutional drive and commitment. The low appreciation of outreach activities within academia limits the interest of faculty members to engage in multi-disciplinary RSI work that does not pertain to their immediate research interests and thus does not deliver scientific credit. Perceived irrelevance by students and lack of market for students Barriers result in a situation where potentials to cooperate with other local actors are not fully realized and may result in difficulties to reach an agreement, long times to achieve a goal, unsatisfactory performance, and internal conflicts between the partnering actors.

7 Networking and RCEs The need for networking becomes indispensable in any case where a relatively large number of small actors aim at a target which cannot be attained in isolation The parameters that define the complexity of the network structure relate to the number of actors in the system at each level, their diversity, and the density and intensity of interactions among the group members The plethora of categorization criteria and their potential combinations confirms the uniqueness of any network and indicates that the optimization of its operations must be internally designed at an ad hoc basis The establishment of RCEs that will align the interests and the potentials of the regional actors, coordinate their efforts, and develop capacity for managing pending issues was developed as a critical enabling approach for collaborative self governance

8 Study methodology The study has mostly focused on descriptive ESD projects covering formal, informal, and non-formal learning using a selection of over 100 European and North American publications in English. It has included activities benefiting any of the three pillars of SD with the emphasis on interdisciplinarity. Articles emphasizing education management, highly technical, or econometric studies on the impact of higher education and academic research on regional performance have been omitted The Scholar Google network was employed to secure that the articles used were peer-reviewed and published in academic journals. The very small number of references (<10) to the available articles deterred the use of the citation index as an impact indicator to support the choice of the most influential cases Massive presentations of case studies were found in special thematic journal issues and in selected Compendiums and Best Practice Guidebooks, published by international organizations

9 Study methodology The main elements inspected involved the actors, stakeholders and beneficiaries engaged in the initiative; the background of the problems confronted; innovation and good practices applied; key output and value-added; and the explanatory variables for successes or failures Two main branches of studies are distinguishable in the widely varied sustainability literature: Empirical and descriptive studies of specific approaches, strategies, initiatives and actions taken by certain HEIs, operating independently or within a network /RCE. This branch contains the vast majority of articles and includes presentations of the development, implementation and assessment of individual programs by Universities worldwide as well as suggested ‘best-practices’ and performance indicators. The literature review of such articles demonstrates lack of cohesion and of a solid theoretical underpinning in addition to a certain degree of repetition and overlap Prescriptive studies suggesting that Universities play a more prominent role in the pursuit of sustainability and providing direction on the optimal policy processes, implementation and evaluation for transition to the new role.

10 An overview of the literature on the role of Universities in Learning for SD Thirty papers from over 25 countries were short-listed and presented in this overview ranging from local to international projects, and covering a variety of ESD initiatives on all three types of education. These initiatives were undertaken by individual Universities as well as by Universities-partners to regional networks or heading local RCEs. The great majority of papers published on this topic are in the form of case-studies. Good examples abound and show some general patterns of ways by which academics and multiple regional stakeholders can collaborate effectively and efficiently.

11 Recorded best practices in ESD A wide array of good practices in implementing ESD has been recorded in the literature. A non-exhaustive list of such practices comprises: Infusion of E S D in the University curriculum Use of computer simulation programs for team problem solving and critical thinking Work in partnership with parents, children, and local volunteers to develop an ESD curriculum customized to address local problems Launch of master's and PhD degree program to educate people on SD Campus renovation through a variety of initiatives that range from the use of energy-saving appliances and the implementation of water recycling - reuse systems to the creation of artificial wetlands, multi-layer plantations for carbon dioxide reduction, organic farms and eco-ponds. SD research projects and journal publication to disseminate and validate the faculty's work experience and research and to network internationally Development of ESD Teacher training programs Community awareness raising Capacity-building for professionals and entrepreneurs Development of regional, national, and international networks for exchange of best practices and information

12 With respect to the SD pillars covered the thematic focus is usually on:

13 Best practices in ESD The literature overview allows the development of a depository of ‘good practices for ESD’. Yet, the term ‘best practices’ in ESD presupposes the existence of benchmarks or of a commonly approved scale which can be used as a yardstick to allow rating against preset criteria and comparative performance measurement. Currently, neither of these premises holds true. Therefore, we consider certain practices outstanding because: (i) they are pushing at the boundaries of the subjects, straying into interdisciplinary / transdisciplinary areas in order to enact sustainability; and (ii) they entail practical and innovative ways to tackle local environmental and societal issues Actually the ‘best practice’ for a region is any practice that reinforces an effective and efficient delivery of sustainability in the area. A best practice is only applicable to particular condition or circumstance and may have to be modified, adapted or evolve as the conditions that shape it change.

14 Findings from the literature review The great majority of the articles celebrate success stories, focusing on the practices implemented by the participating institutions. Limited efforts to correlate the activities chosen with certain characteristics of the University and the region such as the size, nature, type of faculties, kind of SD problems or degree of 'embeddedness' in the area. Meta-analysis of multiple case studies is the only tool which can disclose shared trends, patterns and heuristics, and correlate them to their contexts. Imperative need for a stricter conceptual and research methodology framework and for specification of the metrics (indicators) used to evaluate and measure the success of the initiative

15 Conclusions Universities have enthusiastically engaged in improving local sustainability They cope effectively and sustainably with the dynamic nature of the SD concept by changing their teaching paradigm, by developing social competencies, communication skills, and community relations, and by deepening their involvement in local and regional initiatives However, there is a notable dichotomy of tensions when they publish their results

16 Conclusions If the purpose of the ESD publications is to address the internal need for contextual relevance and approval, the description of past efforts and institutional practices has been sufficient to inspire and encourage future peer action But if the emphasis lies on sharing these experiences to contribute to the improvement of institutional practices elsewhere, the emphasis should go to transferability and abstraction. In this case, the instrumentation of case-study research, the documentation of the process, and the standardization of the published findings is an inescapable condition to improve comparability and allow the easier implementation of the findings to a new context with or without further adaptation An emancipatory approach with no prescriptive guidelines, if applied, will increase the levels of freedom with which the reader will reap new ideas, suggestions, implications and aspirations from past experiences and will secure the capacity of the collaborative learning process to benefit both the actors already involved in the process and those external parties that may be interested in distilling precious knowledge out of it.


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