Scientists concerned about the future of the planet have for more than a decade pointed out the urgent need for sustainability transformations (Clark 2001, Kates et al. 2001, Raskin et al. 2002, Schellnhuber et al. 2011, Weinstein et al. 2013). They recognized that such shifts require radical, systemic shifts in education, values and beliefs, patterns of social behavior, and multilevel governance and management regimes, and pleaded for fundamental changes in our economies and societies to achieve sustainability.
The university sector is critical to Egypt’s future. Universities educate our leaders and entrepreneurs of the future, create new ideas and knowledge, and earn much needed export income. Universities provide opportunities for students of all backgrounds to increase standards of living for themselves and future generations. Therefore, there is need for universities to forge new business models that are dynamic, modern and fit for the decades ahead, and significantly mainstream sustainability through incorporating new teaching and learning delivery mechanisms, a diffusion of channels to market, and stakeholder expectations for increased impact.
Sustainability transformations are fundamental changes paving their way towards sustainable well-being of nature and humans. To achieve these sustainability transformation, new approaches and methodologies of teaching and education at all levels must be developed in the field of sustainability science. Therefore, the proposed project will focus on research and education practices to be explored at Pharos university. Sustainability science needs fundamentals and applied knowledge components and commitments to moving such knowledge into actions across full range of scaled from local to global. The research and education at pharos university already provide the basics sciences of Sustainability and interrelated dimensions and therefore serve as organizational pillars for the scientific research and education which can then be operationalized through various research programmes and projects towards sustainable development transformation.
Scholars and researchers are becoming increasingly interested in the processes that lead to transformations toward sustainability. This proposed project explores how system thinking, and social-ecological systems, can contribute to existing studies of sustainability transformations. The project will be implemented in several phases through the next academic years. There are two major points this that project considers: the claim that system thinking is useful for addressing sustainability transformations, and that the role of “management” in transformation processes has to be played by academics and scholars. Second, highlighting the transdisciplinarity promising work that combines insights from different theoretical strands, a strategy that strengthens the understanding of sustainability transformations and sustainability science. Sustainability science is an emerging field of research dealing with interactions between natural and social sciences. It leads to the emergence (or creation) of scientific cooperation and partnerships.
The potential of sustainability science in understanding and managing complex problems is based on inter- and transdisciplinary approaches. These integrate scientific knowledge across different disciplines and between experts, practitioners and citizens beyond academia.
Drivers of change:
- Democratization of knowledge and access — The massive increase in the availability of ‘knowledge’ online and the mass expansion of access to university education in developed and developing markets means a fundamental change in the role of universities as originators and keepers of knowledge. Democratisation of knowledge and access will drive a global ‘education revolution’ of a scale never before seen, creating both new opportunities and new sources of competition. Teaching methods have to change. Delivering of curricula contents not enough anymore — it’s all about contextualization, ways of thinking, and the student
- As the discourses of sustainable development and sustainability have gained political and social momentum as a process of “reflexive modernization” (Beck 1992, 2009). There is no doubt that HEIs can play a significant role in contributing to a more sustainable world by addressing sustainability through their major functions of education, research and outreach. In order for HEIs to play a role in transition to sustainability, however, HEIs need to go beyond modifying their activities by mainstreaming sustainability components. Modern HEIs have been part and parcel of individual and collective ‘development’ which has pursued improvement in living standards and often encouraged unsustainable practices at different levels.
- .Contestability of markets and funding — Competition for students, in Egypt and abroad, is reaching new levels of intensity, at the same time as governments locally and globally face tight budgets. Universities will need to compete for students funds as never before. Therefore, the introduction of a demand-driven funding model is needed such as new interdisciplinary programs, joint and double degree programs that focus on contemporary issues nationally and internationally.
- .Digital technologies — Digital technologies have transformed media, retail, entertainment and many other industries — higher education is next. Digital technologies will transform the way education is delivered and accessed, and the way ‘value’ is created by higher education providers, public and private alike. For example through applications that enable real-time student feedback, and the way education is accessed in remote and regional areas New technologies enable media companies to enter the university sector, either in partnership with incumbents, or potentially in their own right. The so-called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are an early stage example of the search for new models. Some of these models will decline and fail, others will create very substantial economic value. Winners are likely to be a mix of new a pure play online businesses and traditional businesses with powerful online models and capability.
- Global mobility — Global mobility grows with time for students, academics, and university brands. This will not only intensify competition, but also create opportunities for much deeper global partnerships and broader access to student and academic talent.
- Integration with industry — Universities need to build significantly deeper relationships with industry differentiate teaching and learning programs, support the funding and application of research, and reinforce the role of universities as drivers of innovation and growth.