New book | Professional development of European university educators on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)


A new book, titled Leading Practice Publication: Professional development of University Educators on Education for Sustainable Development in European countries, was launched at COPERNICUS Alliance Conference on Evaluation and Assessment of Higher Education for Sustainable Development in Madrid Spain in November 2015.


This book, which brings together – for the first time – best practice in higher education professional development and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), presents 13 best practice examples from 10 European countries, namely Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Spain and the UK. It is the result of nearly two years of work (2013-2015) on the EU-funded project University Educators for Sustainable Development (UE4SD).


The book | Leading Practice Publication


This publication aims:

  • To provide an overview of the best practice examples of professional development opportunities for European university educators in the area of ESD
  • To inspire the reader to engage in supporting further developments in this field


It is structured around six main chapters:

  • PURPOSE highlights the importance of the higher education (HE) sector in addressing the challenges of sustainable development and in educating the future generation of leaders.
  • POLICY provides an overview of ESD strategy documents and current global developments including the UN Decade on ESD, the Global Action Programme and the UNECE Strategy on ESD.
  • PRINCIPLES deals with basic principles of ESD, teacher competences, quality enhancement and professional development at HE level.
  • EXAMPLES presents information on the selection process and development of the 13 best practice examples from 10 European countries providing university staff development on ESD.
  • REFLECTION summarises on the 13 case studies and provides an overview of key lessons learned.
  • PATHWAYS concludes with key messages and recommendations for future developments.


This publication is expected to serve as a reference point for current best practice in this important field of European higher education.


Two best practice examples from the UK


Among the 13 best practice examples are two from the UK:

  • Green Academy programme
  • Learning for Sustainable Futures programme


Green Academy programme, run by UK’s Higher Education Academy (HEA), is a change programme that brings together staff teams from different universities to plan, develop and implement ESD institution-wide change initiatives.


Learning for Sustainability Futures programme of the University of Gloucestershire provides professional development in ESD for both teaching staff and staff who support student learning.


The project | UE4SD


The University Educators for Sustainable Development (UE4SD) project (2013 to 2016), funded by the European Commission under Lifelong Learning Programme Erasmus Academic Networks (2013–2016), comprises 53 partners from 33 countries across Europe, divided into four regions.


The lead partner, the University of Gloucestershire (UK – North Hub), works closely with three core partners: the Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain – South Hub); Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic – East Hub); and Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Germany – West Hub). Moreover, activities of this project are closely associated with COPERNICUS Alliance – the European Network of Higher Education for Sustainable Development.


The project comprises three distinct stages, building an understanding of the situation at European HEIs and developing an effective response.


The first stage (2014) mapped the status of ESD in higher education and existing ESD professional development opportunities for university educators in Europe. The resulting four regional reports (UE4SD North, West, South, East), which summarised national mapping exercises conducted by the 53 partner institutions, were compiled as part of the State of the Art Report (link below for free download). This report analysed the situation and drew conclusions for all 33 countries across Europe. The mapping exercise showed that ESD is gaining importance in higher education across Europe, but the understanding of ESD and approaches to it differ.


The second stage (2015–2016) includes the development of practical resources for university educators in ESD, building upon the experience gained from the mapping stage of the project. This Leading Practice Publication and an associated Online Platform of Resources are part of this stage. The Online Platform of Resources is a collection of good practice examples of professional development opportunities for European higher education.


The third stage (2016) will include the development of an Academy for ESD in Higher Education based on the methodological materials and other resources collected in the first two stages.


Note: Logos in the graphic are from respective websites; cover of publication from the UE4SD website





News post on UE4SD project website


Leading Practice Publication launched in Madrid


Leading Practice Publication PDF (free download)


Full reference

UE4SD (2015) Leading Practice Publication: Professional development of university educators on Education for Sustainable Development in European countries. Editors: Kapitulčinová, D., Dlouhá, J., Ryan, A., Dlouhý, J., Barton, A., Mader, M., Tilbury, D., Mulà, I., Benayas, J., Alba, D., Mader, C., Michelsen, G., Vintar Mally, K. Charles University in Prague, Prague, 136 pp.


Green Academy programme


Learning for Sustainable Futures programme (brochure)


COPERNICUS Alliance Conference 2015 in pics


European Commission | Lifelong Learning Programme



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