Learners Learning to Become: Exploring experiences with developing educators ESD-competencies across sectors in Higher Education

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A huge variety of Higher Educations (HE’s) have been working on and documented the implementation of Educations for Sustainable Development (ESD’s). Research often shows case studies of faculty or university specific transformation processes’ in changing curricula and the efforts being made to enhance the students’ competencies for Sustainable Development. But lately, research strongly indicates promising opportunities when building and focusing on developing transdisciplinary ESD competencies among academic staff in HE’s to provide change in both curricula and “Whole-insitution” approach to ESD’s.
In this way, facilitating “lifelong learning processes” amongst educators can improve the overall ESD learning, interacting with the surroundings and teaching competencies, as well as this could even provide a new power of “meaningful reason” for management, educators, collaborating companies and in the end; the students. [1] [9] [16] [19]

This presentation describes an entrepreneurial, transdisciplinary and transformative ESD competences-course at VIA University College, Denmark, from 2018-2021, involving 100 educators from a wide variety of faculties. It analyses to what extend the effects on transformative changes towards a sustainable Higher Educational institution have been and how these experiences with “learning the learners to become” can be implemented at other HE’s.

The presentation analyses four levels of impact of the competencies course; (1)impacts on the values in managerial and organisational levels; (2)changes in the individual educators approaches to teaching practices; (3)impacts on individual competence development; (4)impacts on the personal and institutional interaction with surrounding communities, business’ and society.

The results of this case study demonstrate the potential of initiating ESD competencies-courses and confirms the notion, that the competence development of academic staff is an “essential prerequisite for a sustainability paradigm shift in higher education”. [4] In this way, the program started out with an ambition to enhance curriculum redesign (creating ESD’s) but ended up making organisational alterations and created a four-component loop of learning and interventions between educators, external specialists, the institutional organisation (management), collaborating companies and the students. [11] [12]

Due to the use of co-creational, interventional-action research methodology the results are time,- space,- and person-related to the case-studies and cannot be generalized, but hopefully, the different courses provide an insight and reflection over a period of four years which can be used in comparable settings of professional competencies development within ESD’s in the future.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFutures of Education, Culture and Nature - Learning to Become (FECUN)
Pages (from-to)102-117
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventFutures of Education: Learning to become 2021 - VIA University College, Aarhus, Denmark
Duration: 22 Apr 202123 Apr 2021


ConferenceFutures of Education
LocationVIA University College
Internet address


  • learning, educational science and teaching
  • education, professions and jobs
  • aesthetics, design and media
  • construction, environment and energy
  • health, nutrition and quality of life


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