The authors describe the challenges and opportunities associated with developing an interdisciplinary sustainability programme in an emerging economy and illustrate how these are…
The authors describe the challenges and opportunities associated with developing an interdisciplinary sustainability programme in an emerging economy and illustrate how these are addressed through the approach taken for the development of the first postgraduate programme (MSc and PhD) in sustainability science at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). The purpose of this paper is to outline an approach that has a potential for application in other parts of Latin America and perhaps more broadly in other world regions sharing some of the same challenges and opportunities as found in Mexico.
The implemented collaborative framework enabled a transformation of disciplinary research and teaching at UNAM into a postgraduate programme designed to generate cutting-edge educational and research capabilities. The approach to curriculum and programme design emphasized the process and methodological framework for curriculum development as much as the outcome itself. It entailed three primary elements: theory on collaborative processes; the curriculum design approach; and a formative and summative evaluation.
Several of the challenges faced were related to the nature of the institution (mainly because of the complexity of its organization and the emphasis in maintaining disciplinary boundaries), as well as to the curriculum development and design approach (acceptance of a competency-based programme appropriate for the MSc but considered restrictive for the PhD). The experience the authors relate in this paper exemplifies how to cope with such challenges. The approach enabled the emergence of a shared vision that was appropriated by all the participants. This ultimately empowered them in the presentation of the curriculum to their disciplinary peers. Furthermore, the approach facilitated the creation of a programme that remained salient along the process, while increasingly gained legitimacy and credibility among the academic community.
In Mexico, the number of sustainability practitioners and scientists is still insufficient, and there is a clear lack of capacities in key themes and tools. UNAM combines a strong scientific tradition and a foundational mandate to serve both the country and humanity and is, thus, a natural platform for developing a higher education programme in sustainability science. The approach taken in the development of UNAM’s programme has useful lessons for the development of similar programmes in other developing nations facing similar educational and institutional challenges.
This model not only resulted in an innovative and novel programme in sustainability education but also, in the process, strengthened the competencies of diverse stakeholders through a systematic collaborative framework that fosters sustainability as a social learning process. Such experience illustrates the advantages of implementing a collaborative approach to enable the emergence of a critical mass capable to handle the diversity presupposed by a curriculum in sustainability science. It also shows how such a collaborative process can be implemented to overcome the limited resources, lack of experience in sustainability education and strong disciplinary focus that hampers the advancement of higher education in institutions similar to UNAM.
The present study proposes the analysis of DRM strategies that had been implemented into subnational development plans and public policy instruments in the States of Chiapas and…
The present study proposes the analysis of DRM strategies that had been implemented into subnational development plans and public policy instruments in the States of Chiapas and Tabasco, located in Southeast Mexico. It describes the methodological phases for the implementation of those strategies and the participatory process, with a multi-level approach, carried out with multiple stakeholders and UNDP advisory.
For this research, two case studies were developed to highlight the factors which make successful DRM in development plans and policies. It included the compilation and review of documents generated by UNDP-PMR program on the mainstreaming process in the past four years, interviews with key actors in the states of Chiapas and Tabasco, such as governmental officers, national and international ONG's, UN agencies and rural communities' leaders.
The review of these case studies demonstrate that for developing countries like Mexico, the process to strengthening institutions setting, needs being present in the field and creating alliances and synergies to generate advocacy processes from a capacity development approach. Having not only an output approach in projects but also mainly an impact strategy, both at the local and the sectoral levels, along with a mid-term timeline and budget, are some of the hallmarks of UNDP-PMR program work.
This study showed two original experiences of mainstreaming DRM into subnational development policies in high risk contexts. These experiences had the participation of multiple stakeholders from local governments and communities. Nowadays, these two experiences are being implemented in the territories despite political administration changes in the last years.