Education and training for sustainable development
Complex human environment systems lie at the heart of sustainable development studies. Making sense of these systems is best done through cross-disciplinary research that is transdisciplinary in its approach, meaning that it is carried out in close cooperation with non-academic stakeholders. Today students of sustainable development may later go on to play a crucial role in its implementation, as entrepreneurs or policymakers. The task of education for sustainable development at the university level and hence of CDE's Education Cluster is to prepare them for this challenge using integrative and transdisciplinary learning approaches.
Teaching sustainable development
In addition to imparting knowledge, university courses increasingly focus on skills training. In the field of sustainable development these are mainly creative skills aimed at applying the knowledge gained about sustainable development. They include personal skills (developing empathy as well as the ability to critically question values), social skills (ability to communicate and cooperate), operational skills (creative will, implementation), and methodological skills (joined-up thinking, monitoring, evaluation).
Sustainable development is not yet established in the university landscape as subject or field of study, and committing to studying or teaching sustainable development means rethinking one’s existing understanding of science. The Education Cluster does research and participates in networks at the University of Bern, throughout Switzerland, and in Europe, fostering exchange of experiences and creation of strategic alliances. It also supports the University of Bern in its bid to integrate sustainable development in all undergraduate degree programmes.
The Education Cluster offers programmes and courses at all degree levels. The Bachelor Minor (since Autumn 2013) and Master Minor (as of Autumn 2015) programmes enable students of all subjects to gain a deeper insight into sustainable development. At the doctoral level, the International Graduate School North-South (IGS North-South) offers courses on core topics of sustainable development. The Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in sustainable development offers education for professionals. Course programmes in sustainable development are increasingly tailored towards students’ active participation, enabling transdisciplinary and integrative learning, which in turn fosters the creative skills needed for promoting sustainable development in the real world.