The sd-universities programme funds 54 projects in the following areas:

A) Teaching & learning for sustainable development

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) complements disciplinary knowledge with integrative competences. Such competences include, e.g. foresighted thinking and action, reflective exploration of meaning, values and personal commitment, practical reasoning, participating in decision-making processes, handling multiple framing of issues, integrating divers disciplinary insights, planning and acting jointly with others, reaching inter- and transdisciplinary insights for action, and contributing to social learning processes. In order to debate and implement new learning outcomes for sustainable development across the university curricula, it is necessary to define and specify these key competences.

Area A1: Teaching and learning courses for sustainable development
This area comprises projects that introduce sustainable development into existing courses or develop and test new teaching and learning models for sustainable development at bachelor, master or PhD level. Projects should apply innovative teaching and learning models that specifically strengthen competencies for sustainable development such as reflexive, multi-perspective and practical reasoning. Interfaculty (interdisciplinary) and interuniversity teaching and learning models are encouraged.

Area A2: Sustainable development competencies
This area encompasses projects that specify and implement sustainable development key competences for university level education and for the universities’ faculties and curricula in particular. Such projects ideally bring together different departments/ faculties of a university and members of the universities’ leadership (e.g. deans, programme managers, head of commissions, rectorate).

Area A3: Faculty-training courses for sustainable development
This area supports projects that develop faculty-training courses for sustainable development. These courses should enable lecturers and teaching staff (i) to understand how sustainable development relates to their field of expertise, (ii) to impart knowledge on sustainable development and (iii) to introduce it into their own courses. Projects should apply innovative teaching and learning models that specifically strengthen competencies for sustainable development such as reflexive, multi-perspective and practical reasoning. Interuniversity projects are encouraged.


B) Student projects and student project incubators for sustainable development

One of the core goals of the programme is to encourage students to realise project ideas for sustainable development. Ideally such projects integrate stakeholders inside and outside academia. In the context of sustainable development it is crucial for students to experience collaboration with other disciplines, the world of business, NGOs or government agencies during their education. Students thereby (i) explore and connect knowledge used and produced in different sectors of science and society, (ii) learn how to make practically useful contributions to society, (iii) connect with potential future employers or business partners and (iv) practice entrepreneurship. The programme supports such individual projects as well as institutional activities by Swiss universities that provide coaching and mentoring for such projects.

Area B1: Student projects for sustainable development
This area funds student projects that explore and implement ideas to contribute to sustainable development by engaging with stakeholders from civil-society, the private and the public sector.

Area B2: Student project incubators for sustainable development
This area features projects that establish and/ or provide access to incubators for student projects, thereby offering effective coaching and mentoring. Such incubators may furthermore encourage projects for sustainable development of faculty and staff.


C) Research for sustainable development

Research that aims at contributing to sustainable development has to deal with a specific set of challenges. These include the requirement of relating knowledge from across the spectrum of natural and social sciences/humanities to an issue, or taking into account the specific interests and expertise of a variety of stakeholders in order to develop practically useful and legitimate knowledge contributions to sustainable development. Research for sustainable development therefore often requires inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration, which is highly labor-intensive and not appropriately remunerated academically and financially.

Area C1: Inter- and transdisciplinary research proposals for sustainable development
This area features projects that develop inter- and transdisciplinary research proposals, i.e. jointly identify and frame research questions. Such projects – i.e. preparatory studies – are expected to develop, explore and evaluate innovative forms of interdisciplinary collaboration and/ or stakeholder engagement.

Area C2: National platform for sustainable development research
This area supports one inter-university project that explores the idea and, when indicated develops and implements a Swiss platform for research for sustainable development (including but not limited to inter- and transdisciplinary research).



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