Dynamic Material Bank for Teaching, Learning and Practicing Sustainability. Early Development

Sustainable management solutions require a number of interrelated knowledge and skills, including economics, social and environmental science. Accordingly, the goal of the Intellectual Output 2 (IO2) of the “TOO4TO” project is to create a Dynamic Material Bank (DMB). A database, which provides quick access to open-access information, a list of up-to-date sources for organizations across different industries and locations. The tool will be useful for academics and, also, for practitioners. Lecturers from different universities will have an opportunity to integrate DMB into sustainability-related courses and those who wish to develop and align their business practices with the EU-supported SDGs. A periodic updating, relevance and applicability of information sources are necessary aspects that make a database dynamic. It will be ensured by providing the possibility of sharing and uploading additional recent sources by any user.

Concerning a broad scope of sustainability topics and possible variations for subtopics, an essential task for project partners was to ensure a consistent process of forming a concept of DMB, which would be applicable in as various study courses as possible. In the beginning, an indicative survey was carried out in project partners’ countries (Finland, Germany, Lithuania and Poland) to realise the need to study the courses oriented towards Sustainable Management, identify areas and fields of DMB. Indicative survey with students was initiated by Gdańsk University of Technology, Poland, and conducted in cooperation with the Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania and Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland. Target groups of the surveys were lecturers and students from different fields of science and studies (management/economics, social science, engineering, IT, arts and humanities, etc.). The first – students’ survey – with general questions was organised in the project proposal stage. Subsequently, a concretised questionnaire was prepared for teachers. The students’ survey was conducted in February and April 2020, with a total of 190 filled questionnaires received, and a second survey, focusing on lecturers, was organised in February and March 2021, with 111 respondents.

Both surveys revealed interesting results about understanding and improving knowledge about sustainability and integrating this topic into specific courses.  Most of the students, from the universities already offering sustainability-related courses, agree that there is a need to improve knowledge in corporate sustainability (Finland – 73%, Lithuania – 87%, Poland – 90%). Also, more than a half of the students, who participated in a survey, would consider taking a course in “Sustainable Management”, if it was offered in their universities (Finland – 85%, Lithuania – 58%, Poland – 90%). The need was indicated by the lecturers to integrate DMB in the courses (see Figure 1).


Figure 1. a) Lecturers’ opinion about DMB integration into their courses, n=109; b) Lecturers’ opinion about DMB integration for literature updates in their courses, n=110 (prepared by the authors, 2021)

The most intriguing and exciting part of both surveys was identifying the most relevant sustainability areas, based on which the E-learning course and DMB were prepared. All the respondents were asked to choose three priority areas out of sixteen practicals for their teaching/learning courses. Each of the areas was offered by the project partners and discussed during the meetings. Figure 2 presents summarised general (total), students and lecturers priorities. Summed up results revealed that TOP 3 topics are Climate Change and Sustainability, Economics and Sustainability, and Sustainable Energy Solutions. The Figure also shows the differences between students and lecturers’ priorities. Most students selected Sustainable Energy Solutions for the first, Climate Change and Sustainability – the second, and Natural Resource Management – the third choice.

Meanwhile, the lecturers prioritised Circular Economy as the primary and first topic; Sustainable Production was the second choice, and Economics and Sustainability – the third one. Consequently, concerning the final summarised results, project partners agreed on six main topics as the bases for the DMB to be developed: AI & Sustainability, Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility, Sustainable Energy Solutions, Circular Economy, Natural Resource Management, Climate Change and Sustainability. In addition, it is necessary to point out that some of the topics, which were not priority ones, will be integrated into the main ones.

Figure 2. The results of relevant sustainability areas, which could be integrated into the E-learning course and Dynamic Material Bank (prepared by the authors, 2021)

This blog post is oriented to describe the procedures of DMB development, not a DMB itself. At the moment, DMB is under the preparation and final revisions. The structure and final guidelines for using DMB will be presented in our next blog posts! The DMB will be opened in October 2021.

Written by Inga Gurauskiene and Gabriele Cepeliauskaite, Kaunas University of Technology Institute of Environmental Engineering.

Impact of the pandemic on businesses’ commitment to environmental sustainability and climate change issues

The ongoing climate change is one of the driving forces for the activities carried out within the framework of sustainable development. Environmental protection, ecology and the impact of climate change are being discussed more and more often since the effects of climate change are visible in every country [1]. Intensive economic development has contributed to a 50% higher greenhouse gas emission than in 1990, which strongly influences global warming. This warming is a real threat to the socio-economic system because it brings about severe consequences like increased ocean temperatures, which negatively influence the aquatic organisms or forces changes in viticulture techniques that are needed to adapt to the changing climate, which is mostly visible in the Mediterranean zone [2-4]. Some of the most known impacts of climate change are presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Climate change key facts [5-6]

European Union, in the document “Strategy for Sustainable Europe 2030”, set seventeen Sustainable Development Goals for the EU members, which together, with The Paris Climate Agreement (UNCFCCC) stand as a guide for international cooperation for the sustainable development in the economic, social, environmental and governance dimensions. Moreover, recently (14.06.2021) G7, a group of representatives of seven countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, United States), characterized by the most advanced and industrialized economies across the globe, had a meeting discussing the climate change issues. During the meeting, members of G7 have agreed to support the action of preventing climate change. They stated to renew the collection of $100 billion every year to help developing countries reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The funding would help countries that could be affected by extreme weather and climate-linked disaster. The last commitment of target finance collection was not met, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, which caused economic downturns worldwide [7-8].

Even though COVID-19 caused economic disruptions, we all saw changes that appeared in the environment during the disruptive 2020 while the pandemic had started. Due to the lockdown established in many places, there were significant improvements in air quality expressed in the reduction of particulate matter concentration. Just in the USA, the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) were lower by 49% and 37%, respectively [9].

The pandemic has also influenced the actions taken by entrepreneurs for environmental protection what is presented in detail in the report published by Deloitte Global. The report is focused on the perspectives of entrepreneurs on the climate change issue in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The given study was based on a survey of 750 executives from 13 countries, which took place between January and February 2021. 80% of the respondents declared that they are concerned about climate change, and their organizations are starting to feel the consequences of it, mostly by:

perspectives of entrepreneurs on the climate change issue in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The given study was based on a survey of 750 executives from 13 countries, which took place between January and February 2021. 80% of the respondents declared that they are concerned about climate change, and their organizations are starting to feel the consequences of it, mostly by:

  • operational impact of climate-related disaster;
  • scarcity and the cost of resources;
  • regulatory and political uncertainty;
  • increased insurance cost or lack of insurance availability [10].

Even though the pandemic slowed the actions taken by entrepreneurs in environmental sustainability, 25% of executives declared they will accelerate these actions in the coming months. Currently, there are five actions taken by companies the most often which are:

  • implementation of the public policy positions in the context of environmental sustainability and climate change;
  • setting the requirements to suppliers and business partners to meet criteria of environmental sustainability issues;
  • choosing for production more sustainable/recyclable materials;
  • education of board and senior management regarding climate issues;
  • creation of additional employee positions responsible for the environmental sustainability performance of a company [10].

There are already positive changes visible, and there is a significant increase in the current effort done by companies for the environment, presented in Figure 2.

Figure 2 Largest increase of efforts taken by companies for environmental sustainability [10]

The pandemic has helped entrepreneurs understand that individual actions such as reducing business travel done on a large scale collectively can reduce the company’s impact on the environment. Around 68% of executives are going to limit their carbon footprint by the continuous personal behavior changes [10].

All of that shows that climate change is a rising issue within enterprises. There is an increasing need for well-trained managers that will deal with the current goals and help companies meet the requirements of environmental sustainability. Thus, knowledge and skills in the context of sustainability, environmental protection and sustainable management gathered during the course of sustainable management will be precious.

Written by Magdalena Fabjanowicz, Gdańsk University of Technology

References:

[1]J. Marlon et al., Glob. Environ. Change (2021) 68, pp 102247             

[2] Y. Liu, J. Zang, Y, Qin, Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change (2020) 160, pp 1202229

[3] B. Abirami et al., Sci Total Environ. (2021) 791, pp 147905

[4] G.Gutiérrez-Gamboa, W. Zheng, F. Martínez de Toda, Food Res. Int. (2020) 139, pp 109946

[5] UNDP ”Climate Action”, Available: https://www.undp.org/sustainable-development-goals#climate-action (accessed: 15.06.2021)

[6] NASA “Climate Change: How Do We Know?”, Available: https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ (accessed: 16.06.2021)

[7] BBC News, “G7 summit: Leaders pledge climate action but disappoint activists”, Available: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-57461670, (accessed: 16.06.2021)

[8] S.P. Nathaniel, Md.S. Alam, M. Murshed, H. Mahmood, Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. (2021) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-13728-6

[9] R. Nigam, K. Pandaya, AJ. Luis, R. Sengupta, M. Kotha, Sci. Rep. (2021) 11, pp 4285

[10] Deloitte. Report: 2021 Climate Check: Business’ Views on Environmental Sustainability, Available:  https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/risk/articles/2021-climate-check-business-views-on-environmental-sustainability.html

Innovation Pedagogy in Action at May Workshop

What is Innovation Pedagogy?

Innovation pedagogy or Innopeda® as it is called for short, is a strategic approach to modern learning. It was chosen as the preferred approach in the TOO4TO –project for providing a new edge for developing the e-Learning modules and curriculum as part of the project outcomes. 

We at Turku University of Applied Sciences (Turku UAS) have started the development of the innovation pedagogy approach already in 2006. According to Joshi, Storti and Scheinin (2021) the aim “has been to provide competences needed in working life and to promote innovations and regional development. Innopeda® is implemented in all Turku UAS’ sectors and on all study fields. It has effects on all key activities of the university, including learning and teaching methods, working life cooperation and curriculum design, and it has been developed systematically during its lifespan”.  It was only natural that this new pedagogical approach was included in the TOO4TO project plan already early on. 

Innovation pedagogy is based on the cornerstones of learning as seen in figure 1. They are the methods and tools necessary while implementing the learning process. Students, despite discipline, must acquire the core competences of their own study fields in addition to a set of so-called innovation competences.  These competences have five dimensions that focus on creativity, critical thinking, initiative, team working and networking. The final aim is the student’s success in work and in life.

Figure 1. Innovation pedagogy in a nutshell (Konst & Kairisto-Mertanen, 2019)

Innopeda in action

Due to Covid –19 pandemic all the TOO4TO-project meetings have been online so far. This also happened to the Innopeda® workshop, planned to be run for the members of the project already during the kick-off meeting in Poland.  As the time to start planning for the e-learning modules and the curriculum approached, May 12th 2021 was chosen as the day for a full day workshop lead by Turku UAS team. The practical arrangements were done over Teams platform with a pre-assignment for all those attending from the partnering Universities.  In the pre-assignment, the participants considered “Activating learning and teaching methods” and “Multidisciplinary learning environment” to be the most important themes to focus on during the workshop.  A comment from one of the participants: “Teachers can be more than parrots” probably best expresses the expectations for the day.  

True to Innopeda ethos, the day included various activities: a short keynote by the Head of Innopeda Training Center, but most of all working in small groups with discussions using virtual collaboration platforms e.g. regarding evaluation and student assessment as well as the implementation of Innopeda in the future actions of TOO4TO project. The whole group seemed very happy with the workshop day and as the planning of the e-learning modules and the curriculum are already at full speed, the “takings” like self and peer-assessment methods, group learning diaries and virtual hackathons from the day have been included in the future plans. 

Innopeda Workshop participants. Picture by Ela Kurtcu

Written by Susanna Saari, Mervi Varhelahti and Marjatta Rännäli, Turku University of Applied Sciences

References:

Innopeda by Turku AMK (n.d.) Retrieved 9.6.2021 from https://innopeda.turkuamk.fi/language/en/home/

Joshi, M., Storti, A. & Scheinin, M. (2021). Innopeda Quality Handbook. Turku University of Applied Sciences. Unpublished Manuscript. 

Konst, T., & Kairisto-Mertanen, L. Developing innovation pedagogy. Contemporary Educational Researches Journal, 9(3), 74–84. https://doi.org/10.18844/CERJ.V9I3.4224

Implementation of UN SDGs in Small and Mid-size Enterprises (SMEs): The Challenges and Opportunities

“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance” (Ban Ki-Moon, 2013)[1]. That is why in 2015, 93 countries agreed on 17 goals and 169 sub-goals at the United Nations General Assembly covering three main areas of sustainable development: ecological, economic and social.

 Various studies suggest that a key factor in achieving sustainable development is through implementing corporate social responsibility and systematic sustainability in the private sector. The studies also show that the SMEs account for an overwhelming majority of private sector business and economic activity in both developed and developing countries. Therefore, their impact and significance should be revealed.

 According to the EU guidelines, SMEs can be defined as firms with fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euros and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euros (European Commission, 2005). According to the EU Central Bank[2], the SMEs make up to 99.8% of all non-financial companies in the EU, provide 66.6% of jobs and generate 56.4% of added value. Nevertheless, they are currently facing a serious hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic surging situation across the globe. Since that the pandemic has forced around 70% SMEs to shut down their operations. The recovery efforts though are inspired largely by the SDGs through focusing on how to rebuild more inclusive economies and societies, to set a new course for a socially just, low-carbon and climate-resilient world where no one is left behind (Pwc, 2020).

The International Trade Centre report “SME Competitiveness Outlook” (2019) indicates that, the SMEs can contribute to improving the SDGs through four channels: employee impacts (Goals 1, 2, 3, 8), business practice impacts (Goals 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16), sectorial impacts (Goals 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11) and national economy impacts (Goals 1, 8, 9, 10, 17). This confirms the experts’ observations that the SMEs play a key role in achieving the economic SDGs, as well as fostering innovation and sustainable industrialization, in addition to their contribution to the promotion of human development through promoting social progress, addressing income inequalities by providing good-quality jobs and working conditions.

In other words, one may state that SMEs are “a major engine” of economic growth and socioeconomic development. Therefore, their potential contribution to the realization and implementation of the SDGs is vital. This potential however is undermined by various challenges; a limited number of (qualified) employees, scarcity of collaboration between the SMEs, governments and higher education institutions, limited access to finance, lack of knowledge, skills and tools for business model innovations as well as insufficient marketing and strategic management skills. Moreover, with the overwhelming waves of information available and the general lack of expertise compared to larger companies, the SMEs face uneasiness in identifying how they can contribute to the SDGs realization. That being said, it has been proven that there is a wide range of knowledge, educational objectives, capacities and skills development methods implemented within educational initiatives frameworks which can successfully help in filling this substantial gap and achieving the SDGs by 2030. Accordingly, attaining the SDGs requires a much more responsible policy and a much stronger public consensus, association and dialogue with all stakeholders including government, businesses, civil society and higher educational institutes (Belyaeva, Lopatkova, 2020).

In accordance with the EU adherence to the realization and implementation of the SDGs, education is recognized to be one of the main catalysts of overcoming the above-mentioned challenges and attaining sustainable development. Accordingly, several European initiatives are focusing on global partnership and cooperation in this field.

Being one of these initiatives, the EU-funded Erasmus+ project TOO4TO aims at enhancing the knowledge, skills, and capabilities of (future) employees and managers and providing them with a working-life oriented educational tool for promoting sustainable development. This, consequently, will help in addressing the challenges faced by the SMEs in incorporating the SDGs; given that the gap between businesses and higher education institutions will be bridged, employees will be more qualified and informed, and sustainability and innovation will be more integrated in the study programs to help lessen the lack of knowledge on that front.

Thus, if the challenges mentioned previously vanquish and the SMEs engage with the SDGs successfully at the local level, that can help in increasing the global sustainability and the SMEs can contribute about 60% of the sustainable development targets (ITC, 2019).

Written by Ashrakat Ashraf Fouda, Global Impact Grid

References:

Belyaeva, Z., & Lopatkova, Y. (2020). The Impact of Digitalization and Sustainable Development Goals in SMEs’ Strategy: A Multi-Country European Study. Palgrave Studies In Cross-Disciplinary Business Research, In Association With Euromed Academy Of Business, 15-38. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-45835-5_2

COVID-19 Private Sector Global Facility announced at SDG Business Forum. (2020). Retrieved 14 May 2021, from https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/news-room/press-releases/2020/pwc-joins-global-private-sector-facility.html

International Trade Centre. (2019). SME competitiveness outlook 2019: Big money for small business – Financing the sustainable development goals. ITC, Geneva. Retrieved from http://www.intracen.org/publication/smeco2019/

User guide to the SME Definition. (2005). Retrieved 14 May 2021, from https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/conferences/state-aid/sme/smedefinitionguide_en.pdf


[1] https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2013-09-05/secretary-generals-remarks-g20-working-dinner-sustainable

[2] https://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/key/date/2021/html/ecb.sp210301_1~ab924b7e65.en.html

An interdisciplinary education as necessary tool for future challenges

The best investment in our future is the investment in our people. Skills and education drive Europe’s competitiveness and innovation... “–

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen 

A long-term vision of sustainability covers cross-boundary issues while trying to combine economic growth, social equity and equality, and efficient use of natural resources in an equal measure. Ambitious “green” transition is embodied in “The European Green Deal” – a plan, which could foster a resource-efficient, circular, digitised, and climate neutral economy in future Europe. It is one of the examples, which clearly shows the interlinkages between different areas such as business, governance, and industry with a strong focus on science and education. In this transition, universities are responsible for the right skills insurance, which support the EU strategic vision, and, at the same time, guarantee a qualified workforce for better sustainable competitiveness, social fairness, and resilience.

Covid-19 –  is another real and global case study of complexity and urgency, which has shown that the – one in the field is not a soldier.  A number of factors have been analysed from specific scientific perspectives – environmental (e.g., air quality), social (death), and economic (GDP, unemployment) (Bontempi et al., 2020). The crisis, more than ever, has proved that systemic shocks involve different experts from engineering, political, geographic, social, and economic disciplines. To respond to complex challenges from only “one point of view” is not enough. Regional and global trends (COVID-19, EU Green Deal, Circular Economy, EU Industrial Strategy) show a need for expanding interdisciplinary competencies that could be integrated by students with different undergraduate education or already working professionals.

Therefore, these complex issues in the World already have proved that standard curricula have become too segregated along disciplinary lines. Moreover, an increasingly complicated world requires a broad understanding of the connections between diverse forms of knowledge and inquiry. Therefore, higher education institutions are already examining ways to integrate different study subjects by applying interdisciplinary approaches.

Heidi Hayes Jacobs, an interdisciplinary learning expert, describes interdisciplinary as a knowledge, view and curriculum approach that consciously applies methodology and language from more than one discipline to examine a central theme, topic, issue, problem, or work. However, this challenging technique in the modern curriculum requires the creation of lecturers’ teams and students that enrich the overall educational experience (Casey, 2009). It represents a holistic approach – thinking in a “big picture” and analysing a topic as a whole interconnected entity. Understand every constituent interrelate and synergies of a larger system. It is used for complex problem solutions and is mostly applied in sustainability contexts.

A holistic approach and system thinking that helps to make connections between ideas and concepts across different disciplinary boundaries while coping with the complex real challenges.

Figure 1. Interdisciplinary approach in education (created by the authors, 2021).

There are several examples where an interdisciplinary approach is applied in Kaunas University of Technology studies and courses. Study programme “Sustainable Management and Production” integrates the sustainable development principles, combines engineering and a holistic life cycle approaches, acquiring a unique ability to systematically assess the consequences of decisions in terms of environmental, economic, and technological aspects. Another example is a broad course “Sustainable development”, which is created and taught by lecturers as an alternative for all bachelor students in KTU. It was the first time in the University when lecturers from different scientific disciplines (representatives from seven departments of KTU) belong to one working group developing and teaching one course.

Moreover, KTU course “Sustainable Human Development” helps to develop a deeper understanding about sustainable human development, main challenges and problems related to demographic, technological, environmental changes. 

As a partner of ERASMUS+ project TOO4TO, KTU is developing a Dynamic Material Bank (DMB) – an interdisciplinary database for innovative courses and a tool which could be used by students and lecturers interested in sustainability issues. DMB will be published later in 2021. KTU, in cooperation with all project partners (ERASMUS+ project TOO4TO – Sustainable Management: Tools for Tomorrow), will orient project activities and outputs towards the coherent development and interdisciplinary education contact as an integral part of different study programs and courses, developing future-oriented skills and competencies.

Written by Inga Gurauskienė and Gabrielė Čepeliauskaitė, Kaunas University of Technology

References:

Bontempi, E., Vergalli, S., & Squazzoni, F. (2020). Understanding COVID-19 diffusion requires an interdisciplinary, multi-dimensional approach. Environmental Research, 188, 109814. Available online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001393512030709X?casa_token=yo6ZgMW-07AAAAAA:RU9JSQpw8ctFqOUesKW-IAIdO2VT0p3BibIDBZm3tZJz3lhHMx0bl_TfZ7oiBttMqIdgdAWk

Jones, Casey (2009) “Interdisciplinary Approach – Advantages, Disadvantages, and the Future Benefits of Interdisciplinary Studies,”ESSAI: Vol. 7, Article 26.Available at:http://dc.cod.edu/essai/vol7/iss1/26

What is interdisciplinary learning? Available online: https://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/interdisciplinary/index.html

25 Years Ago I Coined the Phrase “Triple Bottom Line (TBL).” Here’s Why It’s Time to Rethink It. By John Elkington June 25, 2018: https://hbr.org/2018/06/25-years-ago-i-coined-the-phrase-triple-bottom-line-heres-why-im-giving-up-on-it

TOO4TO to Integrate Sustainability into Higher Education Studies

“The current decade is the make-or-break moment for our planet”. These were the words of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in her appearance at the recently held virtual event “Investing in Climate Action” [1]. She highlighted in her speech that “the global emissions [are] still rising and that this has to change as a matter of urgency”, whilst acknowledging that “climate action is not only a necessity, it is also the greatest economic opportunity of our lifetime […] similar to the digital revolution 40 years ago”.

To respond to climate change and environmental degradation, the European Union has initiated The European Green Deal to make the EU’s economy sustainable [2]. As part of this plan, education and training have been recognised as essential enablers of the transition towards a more sustainable future. Moreover, in line with the EU-supported UN sustainable development goals, education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development, and its goals can only be realised within global partnership and cooperation. Sustainable Management: Tools for Tomorrow (TOO4TO) will be taking on this challenge!

TOO4TO isa 35-month EU-funded Erasmus+ project, running until August 2023 in cooperation with European strategic partner institutions. This website will be the main source of information about the TOO4TO project and its developments. Additionally, this website will host an active blog whose purpose is to explore and stimulate discussion on various issues related to sustainability from various perspectives. In this first blog entry, we wish briefly to introduce the ongoing project and the exciting road ahead of us!

TOO4TO was initiated by the Gdańsk University of Technology to address the need for the greater integration of the topic of sustainability into management study programmes. After all, various sources indicate a growing labour market demand for sustainability professionals [3]–[5] and sustainability competencies, even in positions that are not directly related to sustainability [6]. At the same time, the recent Eurobarometer survey on public attitudes to the environment has shown a clear majority of Europeans thinking that large companies and industries are not doing enough to protect the environment [7]. Assessing and demonstrating sustainability may also be difficult for organisations because there is no clear understanding of what sustainability means in the organisational context [8].

To respond to the labour market needs, TOO4TO aims to increase the skills, competencies and awareness of future managers and employees with available tools and methods that can provide sustainable management and, as a result, support sustainable development in the EU and beyond.

The project seeks to achieve its aim by designing a working-life oriented curriculum and deliver it in the form of an e-learning course to students of management disciplines. As part of the learning materials, the project intends to establish a Dynamic Material Bank, which summarises and compiles the most recent and relevant open-access materials devoted to sustainability applicable in an organisational context. As an innovative educational method, the e-learning course is intended to be arranged so that students can work on international group assignments virtually with students from the partnering higher education institutions, which will enhance the learners’ communication and problem-solving skills in virtual multicultural teams. Indeed, such skills are increasingly important due to the exceptional current events caused by COVID-19, which has demonstrated how vital it is for companies and education institutions to possess skills and competencies in virtual teamwork. 

In addition to the Gdańsk University of Technology, the project consortium comprises three other European strategic partner institutions and one associated partner. The Kaunas University of Technology, based in Lithuania, has over 20 years of experience in environmental-oriented multidisciplinary programmes. In Finland, Turku University of Applied Sciences has extensive experience in arranging courses in a virtual environment. TOO4TO adopts their invented innovation pedagogy (INNOPEDA®), a learning approach that enhances individuals and groups’ innovation competencies. Global Impact Grid, based in Germany,is a global advisory network within the sustainability and impact realm. Their associated partner Steinbeis University Berlin – The Institute Corporate Responsibility Management, in turn, has over ten years of experience in developing Management and CSR-related curricula.

TOO4TO is aimed to have an impact beyond the consortium. All project results will be made available on open access and published here on the website. The consortium is currently working on the Dynamic Material Bank, which will be published in Autumn 2021. The course curriculum will be designed in a modular form so that other higher education institutions can freely transfer it to their use as a whole or integrate parts of it into their existing study programmes. The e-learning course and its learning content will also be made available for anyone in a self-study mode. Lastly, the project wishes to share the learning experiences from the multicultural teamwork exercises conducted in the virtual environment and disseminate them in the form of a guide.

The TOO4TO team wishes everyone a pleasant read. Welcome aboard!

Written by Eljas Johansson, Gdańsk University of Technology

References

[1]       Project Syndicate, “Investing in Climate Action Watch Now,” 2021. https://www.project-syndicate.org/event/investing-in-climate-action (accessed Mar. 14, 2021).

[2]       European Commission, “The European Green Deal,” Brussels, 2019. [Online]. Available: https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/The-European-Green-Deal-Communication.pdf

[3]       European Commission, “Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030,” Brussels, 2019. [Online]. Available: https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/3b096b37-300a-11e9-8d04-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF

[4]       GreenBiz Group, “State of the Profession,” 2013. [Online]. Available: http://info.greenbiz.com/rs/greenbizgroup/images/State of the Profession 2013.pdf?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonu6TAZKXonjHpfsX74%2BkqX6axlMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4ATMFnI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFSLHEMa5qw7gMXRQ%3D

[5]       M. Gitsham and T. S. Clark, “Market demand for sustainability in management education,” Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ., vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 291–3030, 2014, [Online]. Available: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJSHE-12-2011-0082/full/html

[6]       The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, “Beyond the Right Thing to Do : The Value of Sustainability in Higher Education,” 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.iau-hesd.net/sites/default/files/documents/aashe_2017_beyondrightthingtodo_brochure.pdf

[7]       TNS opinion & social and European Commission, “Special Eurobarometer 468,” 2017. [Online]. Available: https://data.europa.eu/data/datasets/s2156_88_1_468_eng?locale=en

[8]       R. Antolín-López, J. Delgado-Ceballos, and I. Montiel, “Deconstructing corporate sustainability: a comparison of different stakeholder metrics,” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 136, pp. 5–17, 2016, Available: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288280570_Deconstructing_Corporate_Sustainability_A_Comparison_of_Different_Stakeholder_Metrics