Virtual Campus for a Sustainable Europe

Project: Transfer (R&D project)

Project participants


The “Virtual Campus for a Sustainable Europe” (VCSE) Project comprises an innovative Virtual Campus of Higher Academic Institutes, which surpasses the gates of academia and invites relevant “societal actors” in a public dialogue on how “e-learning” may serve as a new, inter-disciplinary, trans-disciplinary and intercultural instrument in dealing with the particularly complex issue of sustainable development at a European level. The VCSE partners -the University of Macedonia (GR), the Open University of the Netherlands (NL), the University of Graz (AT), the University of Lüneburg (DE), the Charles University in Prague (CZ)- being frontrunners in both sustainability studies and e-learning techniques and having benefited from their past experience in the framework of the “Virtual Copernicus Campus” e-Learning 2004 Project; proceed one step further by opening-up their acquired know-how and expertise not only to other academic institutes, but also to local stakeholders and decision-makers regarding sustainability and e-learning issues.

Short Description
As a starting point, one should focus on the essence of sustainable development - “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”- and the role of Higher Education Institutes (HEI) in Europe are capable to play in the mainstreaming of sustainability practices and strategies in a enlarged European Union with the exploitation of modern information and communication technologies (ICT) and the Internet. Since its inclusion in the Treaty in 1997, sustainable development is recognised as an overarching goal of the EU. At Lisbon in 2000, EU leaders stated their objective of making the EU “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion” by 2010. The Lisbon Strategy was supplemented by a third, environmental pillar following the adoption of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy at the Gothenburg European Council in 2001.3 This Strategy marked a turning point. The aim was to promote economic growth and social cohesion while paying due regard to environmental protection. Conversely, it implies that environmental objectives will need to be weighed against their economic and social impacts so that ‘win-win’ solutions should as far as possible be devised for the economy, employment and environment. In 2002, the Council and European Parliament adopted the 6th Environment Action Programme, setting out the EU environmental roadmap for the next ten years and identifying four priority areas where action is urgently needed: climate change, nature and biodiversity, resource management, and environment and health. The implementation of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy and the 6th EAP in the enlarged Union will be particularly challenging. Thus, the “Virtual Campus for a Sustainable Europe” Project proposes a break-through multi-level and multilateral approach such as the direct involvement of all main “actors” concerned with the complex and trans-European issues of sustainable development, being the following: • 1st Pillar: European Higher Academic Institutes, involves the virtual mobility of academics and students (future decision-makers & opinion-creators) through the materialization of ready-to-offer high-quality university e-courses on sustainable development courses. Furthermore, these VCSE-e-courses will be enhanced by a “European Summer School for a Sustainable Future”. Most importantly, the VCSE-model will be disseminated to the wider European Academic Community, through an innovative “test-it-yourself” approach. 2nd Pillar: Local Governance and Social Partners, involves specialized e-learning courses and workshops for representatives of local, regional and national governance (decision-makers) and social partners (opinion-creators). This approach will set up “e-learning networks” for sustainable development, in which universities share their knowledge with a diversity of other societal partners (or actors). These new VCSE “e-learning networks” will be technically supported by the on-line web portal “Virtual Campus for a Sustainable Europe” and the “VCSE Sdpedia”, a general public’s on-line cyclopedia on sustainable development issues.

Research outputs