A successful start has been made to establishing a Czech Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development.
The MOSUR-sponsored two-day international RCE workshop and conference staged at the Jan Evangelista Purkyně University (UJEP) rektorat assembly hall in Ústí nad Labem on 9 and 10 February 2012 attracted over 40 participants. Czech attendees came from as far afield as Ostrava and České Budějovice, while international guests came from the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Israel to discuss current regional sustainable development issues in the Czech Republic, examine the options for forming the first Regional Centre for Expertise in the Czech Republic, and share experience from existing RCEs.
International RCE workshop, Thursday 9 February
The official programme for the Thursday workshop began at 14.00 with an introduction in Czech by the Deputy Rector of UJEP, Dr. Zdeněk Radvanovský, but which had been translated into English for the benefit of the international audience members.
This was followed by a welcome to the local, regional and national participants, as well as the invited international guests, by conference facilitator, Andrew Barton, who then launched into the first of the day’s presentations by briefly outlining the goals of the workshop and the United Nations University concept of a Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development.
The main session of the afternoon involved the presentation of a series of case studies from different regions around the Czech Republic, including North Bohemia, South Moravia and South Bohemia. The studies were presented in the following order:
- Martin Neruda (Jan Evangelista Purkyně University, Ústí nad Labem): The European NATURA 2000 Network as a factor of rural development in the Ore Mountains
- Jaroslav Vrba (Biology Centre Academy of Sciences CR): Is anybody interested in researchers’ opinions? – or the myth of the rational voter
- Yvonna Gaillyová (Veronica Ecological Institute): Veronica environmental activities
- Eva Jelinková (Biology Centre Academy of Sciences CR): Biosphere Reserves
and sustainable forestry
- Jana Dlouhá (Charles University Environment Center): The Interdisciplinary Study Program on Sustainability (ISPoS) e-learning course and summer school held in the Ore Mountains
Following the completion of all presentations, the floor was opened up to all the international guests present to make comments on the regional case studies from the point of view of the types of activities that a future Czech RCE could focus on.
At the conclusion of the ensuing coffee break, Dr Jana Dlouhá delivered another short presentation on social learning in the higher education sector and introduced the concept of the World Café, whereupon workshop participants were divided into four groups and asked to discuss and debate four issues and come to a shared vision on what a future Czech RCE would do. These were:
- What can we offer?
The results of this World Café were recorded on paper (to be posted here shortly) and collated for a summary presentation at the beginning of the conference the next day.
The final event of the day was a poster session where attendees were able to view various information regarding sustainable development-related projects involved conference participants while sipping a glass of wine, eating open sandwiches and generally sharing their SD experiences with other workshop-goers.
An excellent meal was enjoyed by a number of guests that evening at the Větruše restaurant overlooking the city of Ústí, which was accessed via cable car over the River Elbe.
International RCE Conference, Friday 10 February
The offical programme of the international RCE conference began with a welcome to new participants and a presentation by the conference facilitator, Andrew Barton, on two possible scenarios for the creation of a Czech RCE. Dr Jana Dlouhá then made a brief presentation on some of the common sustainable development issues faced by Central and East Europe. This was immedicatley followed by a round up of the results of the previous day’s World Cafe looking into four issues faced by a future Czech RCE (a link to the results is to follow shortly).
The rest of the day was then devoted to a series of presentations relating to potential RCE functions and activities by international guests, followed by short discussions, as follows:
- Dr. Zinaida Fadeeva (United Nations University-Institute of Advanced Studies): The RCE community today
- Prof. Arjen Wals (Wageningen University): Sustainability-oriented social learning in hybrid learning configurations
- Dr. Maik Adomssent (Leuphana University of Lüneburg): Higher Education and Sustainability Research for RCEs
- Jos Eussen (RCE Rhine-Meuse): Open Educational Resources for ESD – The Opeduca Project
- Dr. Clemens Mader (RCE Graz-Styria): RCE Graz-Styria – operations at the local level & the COPERNICUS Alliance
- Jörn Harfst (Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development): Post-mining development - the ReSource project
The final part of the day consisted in final comments from the floor and introductions by three participants of SD-related projects they are currently involved in: Katarzyna Slodczyk of Green jobs - Network for CEE, Pavel Růžička of EMPRESS, o.s. (a platform for efficient resource use and sustainable consumption and production) and the PREPARE project, and Philipp Schoeffmann for RCE Vienna and INEX - the International Network for Educational Exchange.
A number of photos from the two-day workshop & conference were taken for anyone interested in viewing the presenters and participants in action.
To end the day’s events, participants were asked to stay tuned to follow the development of a Czech RCE, which will include notification in the near future of stakeholder meetings to discuss in detail the shape, vision and goals of an RCE.