With the creation of the office of the Vice President for Sustainable Development, in the year 2010, currently Secretariat of Research, Innovation and Sustainability (SIIS), the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon made a commitment to incorporate sustainability into all its projects, and assuming the responsibility of encouraging a change of behavior necessary to advance towards a sustainable future. In addition the office promotes the incorporation of viewpoints and environmental criteria onto the curricular system of the University.
The University Academy for Sustainable Development (AUDS, for its Spanish name) was created within this context. An initiative organized under a knowledge network approach to facilitate the interaction between UANL academics that have projects related to sustainability, stimulate research, teaching, and the creation of linkages; disseminate knowledge and innovation; develop environmental management programs within the university schools with the purpose of encouraging teamwork and building a community aware of their peers activities in the field of sustainability.
AUDS operation, which are part of the activities of the Department of Project Development, arose from the need for a crosscutting policy so that sustainability is organically integrated into the substantial activities of UANL, mainly into those related to research and postgraduate studies. In the near future, it is planned to advance in matters of promoting the presence of sustainability media in the UANL higher education schools, which is a great effort to ensure that graduates are trained in issues related to sustainable development.
In AUDS design, sustainability is seen as an orientation or shared dimension of the set of activities related to research, teaching, dissemination, observation, or implementation, so that generation and management of basic, applied, or oriented knowledge contributes to solving theoretical and practical problems related to the sustainable use of the environment, ecosystems and environmental services, within a social equity framework
On 6 and 7 August 2014, was held the AUDS opening event with the collaboration of 55 appointed university members, at the meeting were present Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Juan Manuel Alcocer González, The Vice President of Research, Innovation and Graduate studies, Dr. Mario Cesar Salinas Carmona, and the Vice President of Sustainable Development, Dr. Sergio Fernandez Delgadillo, and some Principal of High Schools and Colleges accompanied by those responsible of academic areas of the dependencies.
Dr. Angela Carpenter and Dr. Rodrigo Lozano did the Master Lectures; the first is a researcher from the School of Earth and Environment of the University of Leeds in the UK, the second one is a professor of Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development in Netherlands.
UANL currently has 26 colleges and 29 high schools, 37 research centers and institutes, 700 researchers at the National Researchers System SNI-Conacyt. UANL offers 280 educational programs, 57 for upper intermediate level and 75 for higher education (20 of them internationally accredited); 148 graduate degrees of which 97 are registered in the National Quality Program of Graduate Degree and 8 are internationally accredited.
In the past six years, the UANL has experienced an intense and growing academic activity in relation to sustainable development, especially reflected in the implementation of courses, publications, projects and events in both levels, undergraduate and graduate degrees, these activities are directly related to sustainability:
- 2,945 courses in connection with sustainability out of 6,337 total annually offered.
- 221 annual publications
- 758 annual events
- 4 international seminars
The most important are:
- International Symposium on Sustainable Development, Health, and Environment on September 24, 2014 with the participation of eight internationally renowned lecturers from Mexico, Colombia, and Spain.
- On 4 and 5 March 2015, Magisterial Conference about sustainability in university areas was offered by Dr. Marco Rieckmann, professor from Vechta University in Germany and Chairman of the Committee on Education for Sustainable Development of Educational Science in Germany.
AUDS also has an additional goal, which is to contribute to the improvement of the university teaching quality by generating physical and virtual spaces for the reflection, conceptualization, self-evaluation, and follow up of projects of academics in the diverse disciplines and topics related to sustainable development.
For this, AUDS doesn’t require professors to dedicate extra time, since it will work as a multidisciplinary, collegiate, flexible, and collaborative network that will foster the exchange of experiences, participation in events related to updating, and the publishing and broadcasting of the activities of its members, making the most of the information and communication technologies.
AUDS is an intra-institutional organization that complements and strengthens the work of academic organizations, institutions, and curricular commissions of schools and research centers of UANL. It has the following objectives:
- Generate sustainable development proposals applicable to the substantial activities of UANL.
- Promote the incorporation of sustainability into the university teaching: curriculum, course programs, and assessment mechanisms, learning and teaching strategies, among others.
- Encourage continuous professionalization and updating of the academic staff on the topic of sustainability.
In addition, AUDS will work under the following principles:
- Collectivity and collegiality
- Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary
- Integration and Institutional cross-cutting
Structure and operation
The structure and operation proposed for AUDS include the following precepts:
- It will be composed of full time teachers, lecturers from UANL schools and institutes that satisfy the entry and stay criteria, and are willing to participate in the proposed lines of work.
- – It will be presided by the UANL president, and the UANL Secretariat of Research, Innovation and Sustainability will hold the Executive Secretariat.
- – It will operate through virtual and on-site work methods, like:
- Annual general meeting, where the annual report and the work program for the next year will be presented.
- Work group meetings, as needed.
- Courses, workshops, seminars, and other academic activities deemed necessary.
- Website with a directory of the academy members, their main products, projects, and performed activities.
- Discussion forums in both distance and on-site modalities, intranet sections, shared files, etc.
- Newsletter about projects of the academy.
- -AUDS will hold a plenary session per year, in August, where the annual report from the previous year and the work program for the next year will be presented.
- -AUDS’ annual work report will include a list of all active members that developed projects during the corresponding year, as well as the description of accomplished goals.
- -The annual programs will include the lines of work and the projects to be carried out during the following school year.
- -Projects developed by professors will be directly related to their regular activities and will be carried out within the established timeline for academic stay or similar, approved by the deans of the academic entities, in a manner that these projects won’t require additional time or profit.
Some of the most notable benefits of belonging to AUDS are:
- Institutional acknowledgement such as participation in collegiate bodies.
- Free access and participation in training and updating activities organized by AUDS.
- Support for work publication in specialized areas.
- Active participation in academic communication mechanisms and intra and inter-institutional exchange.
Lines of work
The lines of work foreseen for the start of operations of AUDS are:
- -Methodology and innovative materials development for the incorporation of sustainable development in university teaching. Projects introduced in this line of work may include one or more of the following activities:
- Elaboration of monographs, review articles, essays, and others texts to support teaching and the spreading of environmental topics.
- Experimentation with new teaching approaches (problem-based learning, projects method, case analysis method, different modalities of online teaching complement, new methods to evaluate learning, etc.)
- Elaboration of teaching packages to support sustainability education.
- -Development of online multidisciplinary learning to support university teaching and technical training, under a “learning objects” approach, which requires:
- Defining a specific topic of sustainable development from the perspective of any profession, discipline, or scientific, technological, or philosophical field.
- Delimitating a topic within a specific area (global, macro regional, national, micro regional, local), as well as defining the learning goals to achieve in any self-learning audience with educational level.
- Training of academic personnel for the structuration of the learning modules.
- Gathering relevant information.
- Systematization and organization of information with self-learning purposes.
- Elaboration and collegiate review of materials.
- Elaboration of pilot tests and continuous review of online material.
- – Development of researches, reflections, and proposals about the incorporation of the sustainable development topic, including the following sections:
- Contextualization, review, planning, and restructuration of the courses’ syllabus.
- Development of panoramic studies on the relevance and applicability of sustainable development in the curricula of UANL graduate and undergraduate degree programs.
Projects carried out by members of AUDS must adhere to one or several of the described lines of work, without setting back the additional objectives or approaches that each professor considers appropriate to adopt.