The EU and our money are soon parted

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

UE4SDUniversity Educators for Sustainable Development – is a new project on professional development and ESD in universities, working across Europe “to locate and capture recent efforts to support the development of ESD capabilities of university teaching staff.”  The aim is

“to draw on best practices, new initiatives and usable tools for professional development in ESD for university educators – and to use these findings to develop international strategies for building capability in this area.”

It’s a 3-year Erasmus networks project with 55 university partners across 33 European countries, drawing on the UNECE ESD educator competences framework published in 2011.  Experience suggests that these two equations apply:

33 countries + 55 universities = complete unmanageability

professional practice + UNECE ideas = conceptual incoherence

That said, it will all be a great success; all such projects have to be as it’s a condition of funding.  As a €urocrat once explained to me:

“Do you think we waste our money funding projects that won’t succeed?”

Note well the "our money".  Happily, this strategy saves €zillions on a decent evaluation for which there is no need.   It's such unassailable logic, with outcomes and satisfaction always guaranteed.  Equally certain is that dumper truck loads of €s will be spent on air flights, hotel rooms, food and wine – as they are in all such projects with economic stimulus and GPD growth being ever-present bottom-line objectives.

As to whether anything actually useful will emerge in relation to universities and student learning, that seems highly unlikely.  After all, if that were the aim, they’d not be stating with the UNECE competencies whose limitations I have commented on a number of times.   I’m not involved, of course, having given up this sort of junketting a long time ago having toiled in the €uroproject vineyard for too long to such little effect.

However, whether we’re in the 55 or not, we are all invited to take part.  The first phase of the project involves each country mapping its existing professional development opportunities for university educators to construct a picture of national and institutional initiatives, schemes and activities.  These are the questions being asked of UK university educators:

1. Does your University have specific strategies, plans or policies to promote ESD?

If so, please describe in no more than three sentences and provide a weblink if available.

2. Does your University have a dedicated programme or incentive stream that supports professional development of teaching staff in ESD?

If so, please describe each activity or initiative in less than three sentences and provide a weblink if available.

3. Is ESD included in your institution’s Postgraduate Certificate in HE as part of its central academic staff development offering?

If so, please explain how ESD fits in the programme in less than three sentences and provide a relevant weblink if available.

4. Are you aware of any externally-provided staff development activities in ESD that your teaching colleagues participate in?

If so, please name these activities or programmes.

5. Are you aware of any UK HE staff development activities that are using the UNECE ESD Educator Competences Framework?

If so, please name these activities and provide details in less than four sentences. Please provide relevant weblinks if available.

... and so the reification of ESD continues, aided now by Erasmus.  Your answers should go on an e-postcard please, to


Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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