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The European virtual seminar on sustainable development as an opportunity for staff ESD competence development within university curricula

Joop de Kraker (Faculty of Management, Science & Technology, Open Universiteit, Heerlen, The Netherlands)
Jana Dlouhá (Environment Centre, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)
Laura Machackova Henderson (Environment Centre, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)
Dana Kapitulcinová (Environment Centre, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 3 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess the current and potential value of the European Virtual Seminar on Sustainable Development (EVS) as an opportunity for professional development in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for teaching staff at university level.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents and reflects on the specific case of EVS, including its competence-based approach and educational staff roles. Particular attention is paid to the development of ESD competences of tutors through participation in EVS, based on the UNECE (2011) competence framework and supported by the results from a small-scale questionnaire. Three major aspects of EVS as a professional opportunity in ESD are elaborated: EVS as an on-the-job training opportunity, EVS as an international staff mobility opportunity and EVS as an active learning and innovation community.

Findings

EVS is an effective opportunity for developing a range of ESD competences, especially for junior university staff. The contribution of EVS to professional development in ESD currently extends to a partnership of ten universities from across Europe, but given its features, the EVS approach has the potential to be adopted at a much larger scale. Possible limitations in scaling up are rigid rules for integration of new courses in curricula and the need to form new EVS-like partnerships.

Practical implications

This case study of EVS shows that Web-based, internationally networked courses with a pedagogical approach and design focused on ESD have a large potential in providing effective opportunities for the development of teachers’ ESD competences, but to realize this potential, active uptake of the approach by the existing networks for ESD in higher education is needed.

Originality/value

The paper presents a promising option to address the observed lack of opportunities within university curricula to acquire and practice ESD competences for teaching staff.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the project GA14-36005S of the Grant Agency CR. The authors thank the EVS tutors for participating in the questionnaire about ESD competence development.

Citation

de Kraker, J., Dlouhá, J., Machackova Henderson, L. and Kapitulcinová, D. (2017), "The European virtual seminar on sustainable development as an opportunity for staff ESD competence development within university curricula", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 18 No. 5, pp. 758-771. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-03-2016-0040

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited