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Managing Diversity: The Challenges of Inter-University Cooperation in Sustainability Education

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Department of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, 601 77 Brno, Czech Republic
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School for Forest Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 739 21 Skinnskatteberg, Sweden
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Department of Biology, Porto University, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal
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Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR/CIMAR), University of Porto, 4450-208 Matosinhos, Portugal
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Institute of Earth Sciences, Porto University, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal
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Department of Forest Resource Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 756 51 Uppsala, Sweden
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Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
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Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Agricultural University of Athens, 11855 Athens, Greece
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Institute of Sociology, Collegium Civitas, 00-901 Warszawa, Poland
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5610; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205610
Received: 11 September 2019 / Revised: 7 October 2019 / Accepted: 10 October 2019 / Published: 12 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Education and Approaches)
One of the main challenges in sustainability discourse is its multifaceted nature often requiring that many different disciplines must cooperate in order to achieve progress. This issue also concerns sustainability education. In the article, we highlighted the experiences from the international cooperation of university teachers and researchers with highly diverse professional backgrounds who worked together on developing educational materials for university students in sustainability-oriented courses. The study is based on qualitative, participatory evaluation research, applying two rounds of open-ended questionnaires distributed to the same respondents (n = 18). For the analysis, we used the open-coding procedure for identifying the main categories. The results show some of the opportunities and barriers that emerged in the process of this cooperation. In particular, we discuss the issues related to the high heterogeneity of the group, such as the clashes of the different perspectives on the topics covered, group dynamics issues, trust, facilitation challenges, and also opportunities that such heterogeneity offers. We highlight the importance of open reflectivity in sustainability-oriented educational projects as the key to their successful implementation. Finally, we believe that results of this participatory study are useful in designing new projects aiming at further improvement of academic education in sustainability and sustainable development. View Full-Text
Keywords: international cooperation; higher education institutions; European project; educational resources; sustainability; diversity international cooperation; higher education institutions; European project; educational resources; sustainability; diversity
MDPI and ACS Style

Činčera, J.; Mikusiński, G.; Binka, B.; Calafate, L.; Calheiros, C.; Cardoso, A.; Hedblom, M.; Jones, M.; Koutsouris, A.; Vasconcelos, C.; Iwińska, K. Managing Diversity: The Challenges of Inter-University Cooperation in Sustainability Education. Sustainability 2019, 11, 5610.

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