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Munich University of Applied Sciences towards a ″whole institution approach″ – illustrations along x-disciplinary perspectives to education for sustainable development.
Conference Paper - 3rd World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities (WSSD-U-2016), MIT Boston.
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Handbook of Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development in Higher Education. Volume 2.
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The Munich University of Applied Sciences (MUAS) is developing education for sustainable development (ESD) as a strategic issue, in a straightforward manner, and based on a sound methodology. Contrary to a one-off effort as most fashionable short term projects are conducted in a pick and mix approach, MUAS follows a long term development path to incorporate sustainability, across all areas and fields of action - at least as an ideal: For example, education & learning, training &teaching, research, transfer & outreach as well as campus and further institutional management like vision & leitbild, strategies & plans, resources & budgets, ethos & culture, governance & organization, and communication & reporting of the whole institution need to be included.
This overall incorporation of sustainability as an integral part in MUAS is exactly what the UN Global Action Program calls ″whole institution approach″, highlighted and emphasized in priority action area 2 (UNESCO 2014). Among a number of measures already taken or launched resp. at different levels and settings in MUAS, this approach requires not only the (re-)alignment of teaching content and methodology, but also campus and facilities as well as the co-operation of MUAS with its stakeholders in community, be it at local, regional, national and international scale. In the center of the whole institution approach however is ESD, seen as MUAS′ core business. Hence, all conceptual considerations finally lead to few crucial questions: Which approaches may offer proper teaching & learning settings to make sustainability actually work? How to implement ESD into academic curricula, informal learning opportunities in students′ day life, and local urban environments?
The sound methodology used to investigate the totality of realizations of ESD implementations and to identify the proper ones for MUAS is the morphological box. It provides a powerful heuristic tool for creative problem solving, particularly applied to explore all realizations of multi-dimensional, non-quantifiable phenomena – like ESD. As a result, the morphological box delivers a systematic overview, covering all possible ways with hundreds of different options and various opportunities on how ESD could be realized in the light of relevant attributes in the field of ESD (Isenmann & Zinn 2015).
To describe ease of use of the morphological box, the full range of opportunities to make ESD actually work is illustrated along the four different approaches of x-disciplinarity (Isenmann & Zollner 2014; Isenmann 1999) - i.e. monodisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity. Each approach is described through corresponding ESD course formats at MUAS. Further, the overall inter- and intra-organizational embeddedness of sustainability in MUAS is pointed out.
Powered by the UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) in the period 2005–2014 and the Global Action Program as its follow-up, ESD has become one of the most noticeable developments for universities′ development. While more and more universities have taken up ESD as an integral part of a whole institutional approach, many are still seeking for guidance on how to develop ESD in practice. The window of opportunities for implementing ESD is now open. Universities may use the overall ESD morphological box to develop their unique ESD profiles, while benefitting from experiences of x-disciplinary course formats gained at MUAS.
As the overall aim, the contribution attempts to make clear the various opportunities for ESD and its different x-disciplinary facets on the one hand and on the other, examples of current practice and future developments towards a whole institution approach at MUAS are presented.