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Initiative for SDG education

A new initiative has been launched at the University of Bergen to strengthen critical thinking on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the university's education.

Marinbiolog Katja Enberg under et innlegg på Ocean Sustainability Bergen Conference i oktober 2019.
SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION: Katja Enberg is among a group of educators taking an initiative on SDG-oriented education at the University of Bergen. The photo shows her speaking at the Ocean Sustainability Bergen Conference in October 2019.
Photo:
Eivind Senneset for University of Bergen

In autumn 2019 the Education Committee at the University of Bergen (UiB) passed the plan Utdanning 2030 (Education 2030), where a number of measures to promote critical thinking towards the 2030 Agenda were discussed with the aim of implementation in the university curriculum. Among the measures promoted are a new MA on the SDGs and a bottom-up initiative called Bærekraftskollegiet (UiB Sustainability Collegium).

“This will be a meeting point for all who work on SDG-related education, to exchange experiences, knowledge and ideas for better teaching, and a common arena for us to take personal initiatives on SDG-oriented education and shape something more comprehensive,” says Associate Professor Katja Enberg from the Department of Biological Sciences (BIO).

She is among the educators taking the initiative to establish the SDG collegium and is course coordinator for the university’s interdisciplinary course on SDG14, Life below water.

The collegium first met in June 2020 and plan to meet once a month this autumn.

Support from university leadership

This is a broad initiative taking in all UiB’s seven faculties.

“This is an example of a great bottom-up initiative supported by the rectorate and facilitated by the Division of Student and Academic Affairs, but fully independent of the university leadership,” says Vice-Rector for Global Relations Annelin Eriksen.

The idea is that the collegium will have an advisory role regarding the university’s future offers in SDG-oriented education.

“The SDG collegium may be asked to provide a statement on a new study programme. Discuss how UiB can offer more interdisciplinary education,” says Eriksen.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach

The group taking this initiative are particularly interested in exploring learning across disciplines and avoiding the silo thinking permeating academia.

“It is useful knowing of other colleagues teaching on SDG-subjects, whether this is an alone-standing course or sustainability as an ingrained component in more traditional subjects, says Professor Berte-Elen R Konowfrom the Faculty of Law.

“The collegium can provide us with contacts and offer possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration at other faculties and departments, and who may have other angles of approach and alternative knowledge on SDG education than we do in our discipline,” says Associate Professor Bente Irminger at the Department of Design.

Coordination and synergy

The collegium also aims to work with international partners.

“International relations with partners who work with the SDGs, such as the Arqus European University Alliance, can provide us with coordination and synergy, says PhD Candidate Jakob Grandin at the Department of Geography and long-time enthusiast for SDG-oriented education, e.g. the UiB Collaboratory.

He believes this could next lead to developing an interdisciplinary application for a Centre for Excellence in Education Initiative (SFU).

“I hope the collegium can discuss how to integrate dimensions of sustainability in different aspects of the university’s focus areas, such as internationalization, innovation and labour skills,” says Grandin.