Sustainable Development Strategies for Higher Education Institutions / SDS4HEI

Both the restoration of European prosperity and the securing of a future worth living are inextricably linked to the ability of present societies to implement sustainable development strategies. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set up by the United Nations serve as an internationally shared blueprint. Although higher education institutions (HEIs) exert great influence on societal and regional development, their role in enabling a sustainable future has yet to be developed systematically. By implementing Sustainable Development strategically through their major functions of education, research, and outreach as well as through their third mission, higher education institutions can make a decisive contribution to a sustainable future.  

Project Objectives

Coordinated by the Institute for Work and Technology (IAT), the Erasmus+ project "Sustainable Development Strategies for Higher Education Institutions / SDS4HEI" aims at creating the necessary resources to assist European higher education institutions with the implementation of sustainable development strategies. The overall objective of the project is, therefore, to embed the SDGs as a core component in HEI institutional visions, missions, especially their third (contribution to communities and society), value statements, in their strategic plans, organizational culture, research, teaching, and campus practices while also encouraging the design of sustainability into the fabric of educational fields, focusing on entrepreneurship but also in STEM and the arts. In addition to teaching staff, non-teaching staff, managers, administrators, campus facilities teams, student engagement officers, and student associations will be equipped with the necessary resources to implement Sustainable Development in their lives. Students will also be motivated to transfer their newly acquired knowledge and skills into their future workplace.

The project results are (1) a heightened awareness of the challenges of climate change in all fields and disciplines. (2) The development of an inclusive strategic framework for the implementation of the SDGs in European higher education institutions. (3) The promotion of active and solidaric thinking and acting citizens. (4) The diffusion of newly acquired knowledge and skills in the field of Sustainable Development into economy.

New Learning and Teaching Strategies

The crises in recent years have heightened the need for new skills. At the same time, universities need new "transformative learning” activities which employ interdisciplinarity, action-based learning and multi-actor involvement. Therefore, the project combines the SDGs "Climate Action (SDG13)" and "Quality Education (SDG4)". Through new pedagogical strategies and the development of innovative teaching and learning methods, new knowledge and skills are to be imparted. Course designs using artificial intelligence (AI) and learning environments realized in virtual reality (VR) are envisaged, amongst others.

SDS4HEI will be the first project to take a systemic, strategic, whole of campus approach, mirroring the ‘whole-of-government’ and ‘whole-of-society’ approaches. This ‘whole-of-campus’ approach will also include sustainable campus management, encompassing sharing of services, infrastructure, and facilities with other partners, waste reduction and resource efficiency as well as energy-saving measures. All parts of the HEI community, including external stakeholders, will be included. Using "Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)" the SDGs are to be embedded strategically, inter-/transdisciplinarily into the curricula. As horizontal goals, the project also promotes "Gender Equality (SDG5)" and "Reduced Inequalities (SDG10)" in all areas of education and training. The MOOCs are designed to be modular, online, and universally accessible as well as people- and student-centered. Following an open access strategy, the project results, handbooks and tools will be made available to the general public.

Integrated framework SDS4HEI project


The project SDS4HEI uses a four-pronged approach to foster the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the European higher education ecosystem:

  1. Developing a framework for the implementation of Sustainable Development in higher education institutions
  2. Providing self-assessment tools for validation of Sustainable Development practices in HEI’s and delivery of recommendations to inspire HEI leaders to create innovative solutions
  3. Developing "Massive Open Online Courses” (MOOC) for strategic inter/transdisciplinary implementation of the SDGs in HEI curricula, reinforcing students’ accessibility and participation in internationalization and entrepreneurial practices to better prepare them for the global knowledge economy
  4. Implementation of measures for dissemination and evaluation

The project is funded by the EU program Erasmus+ and coordinated by the research department Innovation, Space and Culture of the Institute for Work and Technology of the Westphalian University Gelsenkirchen Bocholt Recklinghausen. Project partners are Momentum Marketing Services Limited (Ireland), the European E-Learning Institute (EUEI) (Denmark), Bursa Uluday University (BUU) (Turkey), Atlantic Technical University (ATU) (Ireland) and the Institut Mines-Télécom Business School (IMTBS) (France).

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