The Virtual Higher Education Summit 2020 took place from 31 August – 2 September 2020. The international event addressed the question “How can we assure quality and transformative learning for sustainable development?” and was co-organized by the COPERNICUS Alliance, saguf, td-net, the University of Bern, and the University of Lausanne.
WHY MEET FOR THE #HES2020
Higher education institutions in Europe acknowledge the urgent need for rapid and radical transformation towards sustainable development and agree that higher education has an important role to play in this process. But how can this role be assumed, what values should guide the process, what should be transformed, how, and who should lead and who be engaged? Suggestions and models exist, but they remain niches, often nested at institutional levels that are disconnected from relevant larger-scale, standard-defining quality and policy bodies.
The conference enabled participants from a number of different stakeholder and expert groups interested in transformation towards sustainable development to meet online beyond their “natural borders” and to discuss both research and practice-related issues.
The Virtual Higher Education Summit 2020 aimed to:
Address the challenges of quality assurance and transformative learning for sustainable development
Get different communities together, foster creative listening, and spark new inspirations
Share latest knowledge across these communities, learn from each other, and get inspired for improved practices towards sustainable development
Refine the research agenda in the fields of transformative learning, quality assurance, and sustainable development
Inspire new research that cuts across these fields
Participants engaged in lively, daring and creative debates to address the following challenges:
This conference sought to convene key players for Higher Education for Sustainable Development and transformation, foster creative listening, and spark new inspirations across the following communities:
lecturers and researchers at higher education institutions
experts in professional development in higher education
managers of higher education institutions
experts in quality assurance
students and lifelong learners
civil society actors
WHAT IS "TRANSFORMATIVE LEARNING"?
We have been working with the following definition because it includes many aspects that are crucial for sustainable development:
Transformative learning “(…) involves a deep structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and permanently alters our way of being in the world. Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves and our self-location: our relationships with other humans and with the natural world. It also involves our understanding of power relations in interlocking structures of class, race and gender, our body awareness, our visions of alternative approaches to living, and our sense of possibilities for social justice, peace and personal joy” (Morrell & O’Connor 2002, p. xvii)
Reference: Morrell, A., M.A. O’Connor. 2002. Introduction. In: Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning: Essays on theory and praxis. Edited by E. O’Sullivan, A. Morrell, M.A. O’Connor. New York: Palgrave, pp. xv–xx.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ORGANIZERS
"The focus of the #HES2020 is on networking as well as transformative learning, assessment, quality assurance, and sustainable development, where we want to achieve both scientific and practical progress."