VCSE Guidebook/Introduction/Why e-learning for sustainable development in the first place?

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1.1. Why e-learning for sustainable development in the first place?

Problems of sustainable development are typically complex and perspectives on the nature and solution of these problems are likely to vary with national, cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. Trans-boundary competence, the ability to communicate and collaborate across the boundaries of a nation, culture and discipline, is therefore an essential competence for sustainable development. Thus, virtual collaborative learning is an excellent learning environment to develop such trans-boundary abilities, as the participants experience differences in perspective in a very direct way and have to come to a joint solution of the problem.

A number of first attempts in setting up e-learning seminars or virtual campuses on sustainable development issues have been reported at the European level. We would like to mention the following:

  • “Virtual Copernicus Campus” (VCC) - eLearning 2004 Project, was the first attempt of the VCSE partners to build up a virtual campus on sustainability at a European level. In the current “Virtual Campus for a Sustainable Europe” (VCSE) – eLearning 2006 Project, they have proceeded one step further by sharing their acquired know-how and expertise not only with other academic institutes, but with local stakeholders and decision-makers as well.
  • European Virtual Seminar on Sustainable Development (EVS), Open University of the Netherlands (since 2001) : The aim of the EVS is to foster an international, multidisciplinary dialogue on sustainable development among students from all over Europe by using modern ICT and the internet.
  • wSUPPREM: a Virtual Campus about Sustainable Development and Environmental Management has been developed at the CUEH (Interfaculty Centre of the University of Geneva) during the last 5 years. At the European level, SUPPREM is part of the campus e-LERU developed by the League of European Research Universities (LERU) to set up a common virtual campus enabling each partner university to offer its students high quality virtual mobility as a complement to physical mobility.
  • PASDEL (PrActising Sustainable Development through E-Learning) – Leonardo Da Vinci Project (2005-2008) brings together 10 partners from 7 European countries to build e-courses in four European languages (Czech, French, Polish and Romanian) and is supported by local authorities, national ministries and private companies.