Mission Impact: Higher Education as Catalyst for Sustainability Transformation

Abstract

Higher education has the potential to act as ecosystem catalysts, connecting with the places our institutions are a part of, for learning-based change with wicked (sustainability) challenges. This, however, calls for reorientating and rethinking of the higher educational narratives and subsequent practices towards more ecological and relational ones. In this study, a pilot aimed to connect a course at The Hague University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands) to an industrial park next to the university which is undergoing a transition towards a sustainable living space. This pilot, which ran from September 2020 to February 2021, included 17 students from 9 nations and 12 different bachelor programmes, and was designed according to the concepts of an ‘ecology of learning’. In this semester-long course (Mission Impact), every five-weeks, students reflected using a combination of aesthetic and narrative reflection methods to capture their experiences and learning. Two questions guided the analysis: (1) what are the key design characteristics of an ecological approach to higher education that connects to sustainability transformations (in times of COVID-19) and (2) what does this type of education offer to learners. The reflective artifacts were analyzed using Narratives of T-Mapping and juxtaposed with autoethnographic insights maintained by the first author for triangulation. Preliminary results of this pilot include the structure in chaos, pace for transformation, openness for emerging futures & action confidence as components of such an ecological education that connects to and co-creates sustainability transformations.



Author Information
Bas Van Den Berg, the Hague University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
Thomas Wissingh, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
Gabriela Bustamante Castillo, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2021
Stream: Higher education

This paper is part of the ECE2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by amp21