Event report online course Introduction to ESD

Within the BUP there have been requests for an introductory online course to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) besides the BUP Teachers’ Course ESD in Higher Education. To be able to offer 5 study points (ECTS) for the course, BUP Finland has developed this course in cooperation with the Open University at Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU). In practice this means that the course is administrated by the Open University, and the participants can be a mixture of teachers at BUP participating universities (free of charge), regular students at ÅAU (mainly studying the minor Sustainability studies, also free of charge), and students at the Open University at ÅAU (open for everybody, but with a participation fee of 50 euro/semester). The online course Introduction to ESD was held during November 2021-January 2022 and September-December 2022.

The learning objectives or the course are the following:

  • Understand what ESD is and how it broadens the holistic and interdisciplinary understanding for sustainable development
  • Understand how competencies like critical thinking, future scenarios skills and collaborative decision-making are promoted by ESD
  • Understand the role of ESD in both formal and informal learning
  • Get an insight of the state of ESD at the own, or another, university

The course is built on the study platform Moodle, this is a presentation of the content in short:

  • Short, recorded presentations explaining the core of ESD (what it is, examples of ESD competencies, explanations and examples of formal/non-formal learning, good practices)
  • Literature explaining the holistic and interdisciplinary of sustainable development.
  • Four modules with assignments done either individually or in smaller groups
  • The last, and fifth, module consists of a survey on the state of ESD at the own, or another university or learning institution of own choice. All surveys were reviewed by of fellow student and presented at a seminar

The course is of basic study level and does not require any previous knowledge in sustainability or ESD.

Participant evaluations

Two rounds of the course were run and finished during 2022. Both courses got positive feedback. During the first course, the students appreciated small group discussions with participants from different countries. The first round had 23 students from four different countries, the second round had only students from Finland. However, at both courses there was a mixture of BUP teachers, ÅAU and Open University students.

Voices of participants

Sirpa Sandelin - Participant from Satakunta University of Applied Sciences

Photo of Sirpa Sandelin

I wanted to attend since I was particularly interested in how broadly sustainable development could be applied and integrated into real-life activities in higher education institutions. I also thought that the ESD course would give me enriched experiences and reflections on my current work as a lecturer and researcher.

The interdisciplinary nature of ESD was the key element of the whole course. The collaboration and open discussion atmosphere also encouraged critical thinking. Degree students’ views on emerging topics at campuses were enlightening.

From the event I will take with me plenty of new ideas for the curricula development and course implementation work, not forgetting the day-to-day activities on campuses. I am happy to recommend the course to our teachers who want to broaden their perspectives on ESD.

Stefan Heinänen - Participant from Novia University of Applied Sciences

My expectations before the event were to get new ideas for planning courses and assignments and to develop as a teacher striving for sustainable development.

The course provided a useful information package about ESD and the setup was flexible enough, although structured as well, to allow me to participate and complete the course on the side of my normal work as a lecturer

From the course I will bring with me the practical knowledge and insights I gained and created with the help of the information and assignments provided by the course regarding ESD and also related to the study programme Sustainable Coastal Management, which I am responsible for at our university.

Photo of Stefan Heinänen
Last modified: 2023-03-29