University of Erfurt

General education course on sustainability

Innenaufnahme Bibliothek
Innenaufnahme Bibliothek

“Sustainability – Face the Challenge!” is the title of a general education course at the University of Erfurt in which the students act as organizers and instructors. Their goal is to provide a hands-on experience that allows other students to approach the topic of sustainable development. This requires well-thought-out organizational structures, creativity, and a great deal of motivation and commitment to the cause. The topic is introduced in the framework of a lecture series open to the public, its structure based on the five levels of sustainable development: ecology, economics, social issues, culture, and politics. In preparatory and practically-oriented project groups, the students to create their own models for education for sustainable development, which at the same time hones work-related skills. A series of events serves as a platform where students have the chance to speak to their instructors and interested citizens of Erfurt. They can discuss theoretical approaches to sustainable development, debate about opportunities for education for sustainable development at educational institutions in Erfurt, and inspire others to take action. The project is exemplary in that students are able to organize their own course and earn credits in the process – which may be unique at a German higher education institution. The concept was again selected as an award-winning project in 2010 in the context of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. The UN Decade is a global educational initiative in which the UN member states have committed to entrench the notion of sustainable development in their education systems by the year 2014. Based on a unanimous decision of the German Parliament, the German UNESCO Commission is responsible for coordinating all German activities related to the UN Decade. It appointed a national committee and set up a coordination office using funding provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Governments, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations, companies, and individuals take action, call attention to sustainability, and make people fit for the future. These actors include the Adolf Grimme Institute, Germanwatch, and many others.


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