Brussels, 25 June 2002
Universities can play a key role in helping to bring about sustainability and can do this through both the European research area (ERA) and European higher education area (EHEA), the fifth international COPERNICUS conference heard on 12 to 14 June at the university of Gothenburg.
Dr Hans-Peter Winkelmann, Secretary-General of COPERNICUS-CAMPUS, a network grouping 300 universities from 37 countries, claimed that the network was a good example of the type of multinational collaboration that will be encouraged in the ERA. The element of sustainability could be promoted by European researchers preparing biannual reports on how their work has promoted it, said Dr Erik Fellenius, Director at the Swedish environmental protection agency.
The EHEA and the ERA have similar objectives, in making Europe more competitive through increasing both knowledge and human skills, and universities could play a part in creating both. 'Within a European research area of knowledge, for example, many enterprises might look for cooperation with universities, which have developed knowledge in sustainable development,' said Luc Durieux of the European Commission's DG Research. Participants at the event discussed how this could best be achieved.
In addition, the question of how sustainability could be factored into teaching was also discussed, with a new emphasis on sustainability being part of teacher education. The use of information communication technologies could assist, by providing a greater geographical spread and an international element to learning.
COPERNICUS-CAMPUS, which has always promoted the role of sustainability through universities, plans to hold a side event at the 'Research in Europe' conference, to be held in Brussels on 11 to 13 November, which will highlight many of the issues tackled in Gothenburg, as well as providing a potential platform for universities to group together to form networks of excellence, one of the instruments of the Sixth Framework programme.
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