Integrating and promoting global issues in STEM education

On September 25th 2015, member states of the United Nations approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and a set of goals to guide its implementation. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are, therefore, action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number (17), and universally applicable to all countries, taking into account the different realities and levels of development.  The 2030 Agenda is based on the need to harmonize three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection. These elements are interconnected and are fundamental for the well-being of individuals, societies, and ecosystems.

In this context, it is expected that innovative solutions in the technical and technological field will play a key role in achieving most of the SDGs. Thus, future engineers and graduates in scientific-technical disciplines will be in a strong position to play a role of influence and transformation, both at local and international levels, assuming the responsibility of decisions that undoubtedly will have a significant impact on the social, environmental, and economic fields. Unfortunately, it is clear that the current educational programmes of these future professionals does not correctly integrate the global problems. Indeed, the skills necessary to make decisions in a global context are difficult to acquire through regulated studies, as they are proposed in current curricula.

Against this background, and with the aim of integrating Sustainable Development as a cross-cutting element in all courses in the science/technology field (at university and high school level), EScGD implemented the project “Integrate and Promote Global Issues in Scientific-Technical Education” in close collaboration with Escola de Cultura de Pau (School for a Culture of Peace) of Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB; Barcelona, Spain). This initiative was funded by Barcelona City Hall and counted with the support of UPC’s Civil Engineering School Teaching Innovation Programme and UPC’s Cooperation for Development Centre. Additionally, the implementation of this initiative was carried out under the umbrella of the project “Global Dimension in Engineering Education (GDEE)”.

EScGD contributed to this project through the publication of a set of teaching materials to enable professors to practically implement these transversal competences linked to the SDGs in the classroom. More specifically, the focus fell on the transversal competence of “Sustainability and Social Commitment”, which comprises part of the current curriculum of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC; Barcelona, Spain). These materials are based on real-life experiences and are presented in the form of case studies, which can be downloaded from here. In brief, each case study is made up of an introductory part, a class presentation, different activities for the students and an evaluation rubric, as a useful tool to jointly evaluate the proposed activities. In doing so, EScGD members accompanied personally a group of professors to achieve these expected objectives.

In addition to this, and from an overall perspective, further remarkably results were achieved such as i) facilitating the collaboration in educational projects between teachers of different subjects, ii) extending the scope of the project to the informal education, and iii) establishing a relationship, regarding secondary education level, with four existing networks; two of them related to STEM education and other two with NGOs.

 

 


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