COPERNICUS Alliance – promoting transformative learning and change for sustainability in higher education (IAU Horizons Volume 18, No.2)
By Ingrid Mulà, Secretariat, Clemens Mader, Vice President and Daniella Tilbury, President, COPERNICUS Alliance.
Research studies demonstrate that only a few universities have been successful in transforming the whole institutional culture and inspiring a widespread institutional change. The reality is that changing the culture and structure of universities and colleges is highly complex and requires the involvement of the whole institutional community.
Change for sustainability in higher education has been primarily driven by international partnerships and networks which are directing efforts to support sustainability innovation in all areas of universities. The COPERNICUS Alliance, a European network for higher education and sustainability, is a network which promotes transformative learning and change for sustainability across the higher education sector. The COPERNICUS Alliance has its roots in the COPERNICUS Charta which was published by the European Rectors Conference in 1993. The Charta outlines ten “change pathways” including sustainable development values and ethics, education for university employees and students, and institutional strategic frameworks. The Charta, which resides with the Copernicus Alliance, has been endorsed by 326 European universities, showcasing their commitment in leading change for sustainability, and was updated as COPERNICUS Charta 2.0 in 2011.
The COPERNICUS Alliance within and across its network of members and partners promotes learning through dialogue and exchange opportunities; encourages the development of publications and resources; collects and shares best practice; provides opportunities for collaborative research; and reviews assessment tools to assist organisations in their journeys towards sustainability. All activities of the COPERNICUS Alliance are based on the active engagement of its members. Members can be institutions (involving all staff) as well as individuals and have the opportunity to actively exchange with others and initiate projects that support endeavours of sustainability integration in institutional as well as European wide or international context.
The Alliance has recently identified its key priorities for the period 2012-13 and has committed to prioritising Education for Sustainability (EfS) activities, strengthening Rio+20 Earth Summit outcomes for higher education and extending the network across Europe. The intention is to inform and influence policy developments as well as to raise the profile of higher education in key international dialogues and gatherings.
COPERNICUS Alliance website: www.copernicus-alliance.org/
COPERNICUS Alliance Secretariat: firstname.lastname@example.org
Capacity building on sustainability assessment in higher education
To support higher education institutions within their management of sustainability agencies, the COPERNICUS Alliance, together with the United Nations University has launched a capacity building initiative for higher education sustainability assessment. An international workshop was organised in 2011 to exchange knowledge and experiences among members and international experts. A book publication is under development and a special issue in Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal (Emerald Publishing) has recently announced its call for papers in the field. See: www.emeraldinsight.com. Download IAU Horizons Volume 18, No.2.