Forging ahead in the COVID era
EUSTEPs, the project funded by ERASMUS+ and designed to enhance universities’ sustainability teaching and practices through the Ecological Footprint, is ready for primetime. Launched last February as the coronavirus pandemic was about to grip the world, it kept on schedule despite the lockdowns gradually imposed throughout Europe over the spring. Achievements include:
- The EUSTEPs module was piloted at each of the four participating universities by the project founding faculty members. Thanks to the feedback from dozens of students and the educators themselves, it was revised, completed and finalized. It is now ready to be incorporated by interested faculty members into their curriculum, regardless of their discipline or even department, starting with the Fall 2020 semester.
- The educators’ training to the EUSTEPs module will be provided by the project founding faculty members through online sessions and guided personal study over a two-week period starting on September 7. The goal is for the EUSTEPs module to be taught across all schools, departments and disciplines at participating universities. Watch this space, as more training sessions for educators will be offered to a wider range of participants in the coming months.
- The EUSTEPs website is now available in the four languages of the project’s founding partners: English, Greek, Portuguese, Italian.
SPOTLIGHT ON UNIVERSIDADE ABERTA
Portugal’s leading online university offered the EUSTEPs module from March 30 to May 3, integrated in its e-learning International Short Learning Program of Climate Change: from local to global taught by Sandra Caeiro, UAb member of the EUSTEPs team. Students from Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands and Angola enrolled in the course. Twelve successfully completed the module. Students enjoyed the interactive and collaborative environment. They were especially interested in, and challenged by, the Ecological Footprint Calculator. They found it useful with regard to reassessing their consumption behavior in the context of the resource constraints we face on our finite planet. The two key messages they took away is that while small gestures can make significant differences, it is also important for citizens to pressure organizations and governments to implement structural changes towards a low-carbon society.
STUDENTS FEEDBACK (HIGHLIGHTS)
Students testing the Footprint-based sustainability module developed under the EUSTEPs program ranked the Personal Footprint Calculator as the #1 effective and engaging sustainability teaching tool available. First launched in 2006, the Calculator has been used by 15 million users, with students and teachers making up the largest group.
“The EUSTEPs module provides the basis for creating a critical opinion on sustainability and the environment.”
“The module allows you to put theory into practice.”
“100% of the lessons were very engaging.”
“Each presentation was combined with digital material and homework, which helped understand the concepts better.”
EUSTEPS ON THE CONFERENCE CIRCUIT
- May 14, 2020: The Education working group of the RUSmeeting (Rete delle Università per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile; Italian Network of Universities for Sustainable Development) gave Federico Maria Pulselli, Associate Professor in Environmental and Cultural Heritage Chemistry at the University of Siena, and one of EUSTEPs founding faculty members, the opportunity to present the EUSTEPs project as an innovative teaching and educational experience to a national audience of Italian educators.
- July 15, 2020: The EUSTEPs project and the results of the initial module assessment by students were presented at the 26th International Sustainable Development Research Society (ISDRS) conference on July 15th, 2020.
- September 21st, 2020: The International Conference on Sustainable development (ICSD) will feature a presentation of the EUSTEPs project (3 pm to 5 pm CET).
- Check out more upcoming events here.
As of Fall 2020, EUSTEPs participating universities and Global Footprint Network will start developing a Campus Footprint Calculator. Scheduled to launch by July 2021, this calculator will allow universities to assess their Ecological Footprint. It is also intended to help the participating universities manage resource use on campus through a collaboration among students, best practices groups and universities’ administrations.