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European Virtual Seminar on Sustainable Development

Organisations: The main organiser: School of Science, Open University of the Netherlands

Participants in the 2015-16 run include
Open Universiteit, School of Science
University of Antwerp, Institute of Environmental Sciences & Sustainable Development (IESSD)
Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, COAST
Charles University in Prague, Charles University Environment Center
Karl-Franzens University in Graz, Department of Geography and Regional Science
University of Maribor, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geology and Geophysics – Geomedia Centre
University of the Aegean, Department of Environment
Universidade Aberta

Authors: Laura Machackova Henderson, Charles University Environment Centre, Prague, Czech Republic


The European Virtual Seminar on Sustainable Development (EVS) aims to foster an international, multidisciplinary dialogue on sustainable development among students from all over Europe. The EVS confronts students directly with divergent peer views on sustainable development, and their implications for a societal shift towards a more sustainable Europe. This dialogue is supported by a virtual learning environment based on a social networking platform to allow communication independent of place and time. Students choose a case study offered by experts and tutored by teachers from one of on average ten European universities, and conduct research on this case study in a group with students from different European universities, nationalities and disciplinary backgrounds.

ESD Focus

EVS offers a unique opportunity to develop transboundary skills. Working in a multidisciplinary group is a complex skill, and becomes even more complex where different nationalities are involved. The topics students are required to address in the EVS are both current and authentic. The overall theme of EVS is sustainable development in Europe. In EVS, a case study therefore focuses on aspects of sustainable development in one or more European countries. Each student group works in EVS on one case study. The ultimate objective of the study is to come up with recommendations on how to contribute to sustainable development for the topic of the case study.

Professional Development Approach

Participation in EVS offers staff the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience with innovative ways of teaching and learning among multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary student groups, using up‐to‐date web‐based tools. EVS offers staff the opportunity to work in a highly international, multi‐disciplinary team. Combined with the rich mix of disciplines, expertise, and institutional backgrounds, this offers many opportunities for mutual learning between the staff members, who develop professionally through the specific EVS joint learning process. In particular the annual staff meetings after each EVS are a major mechanism to exchange experiences and initiate improvements. Frequently, parts of the collective tacit knowledge and experience are formalised and documented in guidelines, to assist present and new staff in their educational roles in the virtual seminar. EVS provides ESD teaching staff:
- an on-the-job training opportunity,
- an international staff mobility opportunity,
- an active learning and innovation community.

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