On January 24 and 25, Universidad Europea hosted the 1st Conference on Sustainability in University Program Curriculum. The conference was organized by Universidad Europea with the CRUE (Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities) and CADEP (CRUE’s committee on Environmental Quality, Sustainable Development and Risk Prevention in universities) with the support of Banco Santander, through its Santander Universities Global Division.
The initiative attracted more than 160 participants representing 19 universities and 25 papers were presented by national and international experts. The conference was a success due to the wide interest in discussing the need to promote sustainability in academic program curricula and best practices in the university environment, and the need to create contacts between different institutions and a network to support collaborative work.
The organization of the conference was in response to concerns about promoting the concept of sustainability in higher education. Universidad Europea recognized the importance of this concept early and it was the first Spanish university to integrate sustainability into the curricular plans of all its degree programs.
Among the speakers at the conference were the Universidad Europea’s rector, Agueda Benito and the president of the CADEP, Ana Maria Geli. Both pointed to the crucial role played by the teacher in the learning process and the challenge that universities must confront to move the sustainability in the curriculum of all academic degree programs.
Walter Leal, Director of the Research and Transfer Centre "Applications of Life Sciences" at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and one of 10 researchers recognized worldwide as a leader in sustainability education, agreed with these leaders. In his opinion, it is "an emerging issue with a great unrealized potential in research, which can help universities to earn money through applied sustainability, but can also to improve the national and international image of the institution. Therefore it is necessary for universities to modernize their curricula and teaching models to take advantage of the opportunities and to transfer sustainability know-how from universities to governments and businesses."
During the meeting educational experiences were shared and a series of community workshops were conducted under the title "Designing the university from sustainability". In the coming months the findings of this conference and audiovisual material will be published so all stakeholders can access its contents.
This article was originally written in Spanish and has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.