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UNESCO Chair Newsletter May 2023

Dear Colleagues, Network Partners, and Friends,

Greetings from Toronto where the beautiful cherry blossom season is just coming to an end. We hope this newsletter finds you healthy and well.

We are five months away from this year's United Nations SDG Summit to be held in September 2023 to renew the global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to make sure the world gets back on track towards the 2030 Agenda. In preparation of the SDG Summit and as representatives of academia, we attended the United Nations Townhall Meeting with Civil Society in New York on 20 April 2023. Among other issues, the need for political commitment for the SDGs was prioritized by participants.

Yet, when aiming for political commitments by member states for the SDGs, knowledgeable citizens to support their leaders' decisions are needed. Promoting the understanding of sustainability beyond formal education systems in the public, is inherent in the concept of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). It once more reinforced the recognition of ESD by the United Nations General Assembly as an integral element of quality education and as a key enabler of all SDGs. While education is not a miracle solution, quality education with ESD at the core will enhance sustainable development by promoting sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, a culture of peace and non-violence, with global citizenship and an appreciation of cultural diversity as stated in SDG 4.7. So, ESD is crucial to create positive change.

The month of May will be busy. This newsletter provides a selection of ESD-related events, opportunities, recordings, and publications that might be of interest for you. Please feel free to share this newsletter within your networks.

Warm wishes,

Charles Hopkins & Katrin Kohl
UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, York University

2023 RCE Saskatchewan ESD Recognition Event in Prince Albert on 3 May

On 3 May 2023, the Saskatchewan Regional Centre of Expertise on ESD and the Prince Albert Historical Society will co-host the 15th Annual ESD Recognition Awards in Prince Albert (SK), Canada. The awards honour regional projects and initiatives that use education to promote sustainability or specifically advance the SDGs. Under the theme The Gathering Place, UNESCO Chairholder Charles Hopkins will contribute a keynote on the understanding of sustainability in the past, today, and its crucial role for a better tomorrow.

The Saskatchewan Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development seeks to transform education for sustainability in its region. The Prince Albert Historical Society is one of the oldest historical societies in Western Canada, first established in 1886 by residents.

Attend the ceremony at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts.

York University's 2nd SDGs Teach-in Day focuses on finding balance on 8 May

In collaboration with the Teaching Commons and in advance of this year’s 11th annual Teaching in Focus conference, the York University SDGs-in-the-Classroom Community of Practice will offer their second UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Teach-in Day on 8 May 2023.

Whether just exploring how the 17 SDGs might connect to a specific academic field and can be included in the classroom or bringing extensive teaching experience with sustainability to the table, this is a great opportunity to expand or refresh knowledge and to connect to like-minded colleagues from Canada and beyond. The SDGs Teach-in Day focusing on The Right Balance: Teaching and Learning the SDGs Through Collaboration and Connection is an online half-day event with panel discussions, interactive sessions, and experiential learning about teaching, learning, connecting, and collaborating with the SDGs.

Charles Hopkins will contribute introductory remarks to set the scene for the discussion. Participants will share insights on working with the SDGs through student, interdisciplinary and other unique partnerships. As this is an open event, everyone is invited to join for an interesting event to renew and revitalize teaching knowledge and skills!  

My life, my university and sustainability: a dialogue at Leuphana University on 24 May

My Life, my university and sustainability: what is my role in creating a better for future for all? Sustainable development, climate change urgency, biodiversity loss – there is lots of public discussion on what we can do to become more sustainable. What can students, faculty, staff and the surrounding communities do to make this world more sustainable? Universities and their communities have an important role to play. They can influence how we build on the past, understand the current global and local realities, and build new strategies towards a sustainable future.

On 24 May 2023 at 4:30 pm (CET) in an in-person event at Leuphana University Luneburg (Germany), Charles Hopkins and Katrin Kohl will address global frameworks and the role of (higher) education. Students, faculty, staff, and other community members are invited to join the conversation and share their insights. The event is hosted by Leuphana's Institute for Sustainable Development and Learning (ISDL) and tdAcademy.

York student voices produce educational videos on sustainability

Seven York BA Educational Studies students, enrolled in the 2022/23 practicum capstone course held by Director Celia Popovic, joined forces with the UNESCO Chair to create educational videos covering current global education themes to be shared with more than 12.500 schools from the UNESCO Associated Schools Network.

Students explored how to best explain sustainability, the SDGs, ESD or Global Citizenship Education (GCED) in video segments and created three educational videos – from conceptualizing, scripting, performing, shooting, editing, and finalizing the video product. Participating students had been passionate about sustainable development, climate action, and social justice before. Yet, with their new knowledge and an opportunity to have an impact beyond the classroom, they saw that their voice was important and felt empowered to make a difference now and in the future.

Following the Sustainable on the Go Youth Engagement, this project is another example of York´s commitment to giving young voices direct opportunity to respond to the grand sustainability challenges on a global stage.

Thank you Adam, Ahmad, Andreana, Damian, Duane, Jessica, Vanessa, & Professor Celia!

The UNESCO Chairs Seminar Series meets the OHCHR Hernan Santa Cruz Dialogue on 3 May

In 2023, we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While remarkable progress has been made, there is still a need for a new economic model that meets the human rights obligations in delivering economic prosperity for all. Through the Hernán Santa Cruz Dialogue Series, UN Human Rights engages with people around the world to amplify diverse voices and to empower them to become agents of change in their societies.

The UNESCO Chairs Seminar Series and UN Human Rights will co-host this seminar on 3 May 2023 at 5:00 pm CET/11:00 am EST. Under the theme A solution in plain sight for a better world: a Human Rights Economy, speakers will introduce the concept of a human rights economy, which emphasizes the role of human rights law in economic policy and decision-making, business models and consumer choice to enhance all human rights and to promote sustainable development. The discussion will include the unique catalyst role of higher education for a human rights economy.

IAU Webinar Series on the Future of Higher Education on 3 May: What is a well-financed system?

The next edition of the well-regarded IAU Webinar Series on the Future of Higher Education will take place on 3 May 2023 at 2:30 pm CET/8:30 am EST. This webinar will explore the scientific, economic, political and social principles that inform or should inform HE financing. What are the actual driving forces that shape higher education funding policy? What are the tensions between funding mechanisms and academic freedom, autonomy, and governance? How can we strengthen public trust and maximize the universities’ intrinsic educational purpose and its civic mission in a way that acknowledges, supports and balances university autonomy with extrinsic national interests and labour demands? In short: what is a well-financed higher education system?

2nd season of the UNESCO-UNFCCC webinar series on the road to COP28 starting on 3 May

Following the success of the first UNESCO-UNFCCC webinar series on climate change education for social transformation on the road to COP27 with more than 15,000 participants from 184 countries, discussing how to green education policy and curriculum, UNESCO and UNFCCC are launching their second joint webinar series on the road to COP28 in Dubai (UAE). This season will focus on greening schooling. Tune in for six sessions between May to December 2023 to explore how to get learning institutions climate-ready by integrating a whole-institution approach to Education for Sustainable Development to transform teaching and learning, school facilities and operation, school governance and community engagement.

For our Canadian community: Together | Ensemble 2023 in a hybrid format on 7-9 June

Stay tuned for more information. Together | Ensemble 2023, the annual conference for Canada’s SDG Community, will return in a hybrid format on 7-9 June 2023. The world is at the halfway point to the 2030 Agenda but "moderately to severely off track". Higher education, science and research institutions are crucial for the success of the SDGs and must come together to find ways to accelerate progress towards a more just and sustainable Canada. 
Registration and program details to come soon.

For our Canadian community: National ESE-TE Research Symposium in Toronto on 26 May

Register now to attend the biennial Research Symposium on Environmental & Sustainability Education in Teacher Education (ESE-TE) on 26 May 2023 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the University of Toronto, hosted by the ESE-TE National Network.

Under the theme 'Teacher Education for a Sustainable Future: Call to Action for Climate Justice', scholarly presentations focus on the critical role of teacher education in transforming society. The event promotes a holistic integration of ESE in teacher education at Canadian universities, and builds on the Association of Canadian Deans of Education’s Accord on Education for a Sustainable Future to accelerate action towards an equitable, just and sustainable future for all.

Reminder: 6th IAU Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education still open

The 6th edition of the Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education is still open until 16 June 2023. Higher education institutions are invited to participate and share their perspective on internationalization in this new post-pandemic new era and contribute to a major global research project. 

UNESCO publications you might like...

The UNESCO Adventure

UNESCO was born out of a simple conviction: peace and development require stronger foundations than those resulting from political and economic arrangements between states. The UNESCO Adventure is a journey into the story of UNESCO aiming to realize the best of humanity.

The UNESCO Courier

The Courier is the main magazine published by UNESCO. It has the largest and widest-ranging readership of all the journals published by the United Nations. It serves as a platform for international debates on global issues that concern the humanity as a whole.

In case you missed it...

Recording & material from the Public Lecture on 7 March 2023

In case you missed the UNESCO Chair's public lecture on educating today for an unknown tomorrow or wish to use the material, please find the recording and downloads on the York Faculty of Education's Public Lecture Website as well as on the University Global Coalition's resource website.

Find more videos and recordings on our YouTube Channel

Recording from the ESD-Net 2030 Webinar on 30 March 2023

Watch the recording of the first UNESCO ESD for 2030 Learning Webcast on ESD and higher education with Charles Hopkins or check out the other thematic discussions on curriculum, artificial intelligence, or ESD-based education, and catch up with the broad conversations held within the global ESD-Net.