The Challenges of Global Learning at Higher Education

Today, it is well recognized that there is an urgent need to bring development issues closer to higher education. This needs to be done in a way that is meaningful to students, and that help them make sense of the globalised world in which they play a key role. In consequence, global learning needs to be relevant to the curriculum. First, there is a need to consolidate a clear knowledge base that is located within discourses around international development. Second, critical thinking has to be promoted. Third, a belief in social justice and sustainable development should play a prominent role. Above all, it needs not to be seen as an approach to learning that necessitates reflection on the part of the educator and the learner.

Against this background, this discussion panel aims to contribute to the current debates around development education and global learning. The goal is to examine the nature of main barriers to an effective introduction of development and global themes in higher education, as well as to provoke discussion about the means and mechanisms that may help in their removal. It particularly includes the difficulties faced by teachers when integrating development topics as cross-cutting issues in the classroom, but also, more broadly, the challenges, threats and opportunities to the promotion of global learning within universities. The three central guiding questions will be i) why global learning is especially important (if is) to be promoted in a University environment?; ii) which ones are the main barriers and opportunities in your university environment to promote it?; and iii) which ones arte the main recommendations do be translated to policy makers, university teachers and students to spread global learning? These and other related ideas will be thoroughly debated by the invited key speakers (three presentations of 15 to 20 minutes), and also through the interaction with attendees (20 minutes of open debate).

In addition to the panel discussion, Dr Agustí Pérez (UPC, Coordinator of GDEE project) and Dr. Manuel Sierra (UPM, in charge of the organization of the European Award) will also introduce the GDEE initiative. Specifically, Dr Agustí Pérez will briefly outline the goals of the Action. Key expected outcomes that may interest EU academics will also be highlighted, such as the online courses, the GDEE network, and published materials (case studies) to be used by teachers in teaching activities. Finally, Dr. Manuel Sierra will also launch the second Edition of the “European Awards for the Integration of Sustainable Human Development (SHD) into Technology & Engineering Education”.