EUSTEPs aims to provide higher-education students and the wider academic community with a uniquely effective framework to understand, teach and practice sustainability through a collaborative experiential approach.
Launched in 2019, EUSTEPs is a 3-year project funded by the ERASMUS+ program. Scheduled for completion by August 2022, the project aims to help university students and the wider academic community learn and experience the interdisciplinary nature of sustainability in an engaging and captivating manner, while also supporting the assessment and reduction of the environmental impact of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) through an experiential approach based on the Ecological Footprint (EF) concept. The ultimate outcome of the project is shaping a generation of sustainability-conscious citizens and professionals trained to assess and analyse human impacts, introducing an important professional expertise in our society.
The project addresses four target audiences: 1) Students from any field of study and any level (so they realize how sustainability relates to the whole spectrum of their daily activities), 2) Teaching staff (so they adopt novel teaching modules in their courses and disseminate them across other departments), 3) Administrative staff (so they actively contribute measuring and influencing the Footprint of their university and workspace), and 4) Managing bodies (so they can manage to reduce the Footprint of universities’ operations).
The key outputs of EUSTEPs are:
- E-learning platform: a set of teaching modules and a MOOC customized for the four audiences, aiming to be interactive, innovative and applicable at European level and beyond, supporting efforts towards SDG 4;
- University Footprint Calculator: an open-access online tool – jointly co-developed by academics, Ph.D. students, administrative staff, and NGO representatives – allowing users to identify HEIs’ unsustainability drivers and initiate a process of reducing their ecological impact, thus contributing primarily to SDGs 11, 12, 13.
As of April 2021, teaching modules and material for the four audiences have been developed, tested and finalised. Meanwhile, the calculator-building process is ongoing for completion by December 2020. Trainings and workshops have been organized since the start of the project engaging more than 15 universities from across EU, Latin America, and Asia. With the purpose of becoming a blueprint for HEIs sustainability teaching and practicing at European level (and beyond), EUSTEPs plans to engage with other EU universities for translating the teaching modules and the calculator in multiple languages of EU countries.