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Higher Education Institutions in Spain and Sustainability

11 November 2010

Universidad Jesuitas (http://www.unijes.net/)

José Ignacio Garcia, SJ

On October 15th a meeting was held at the Pontifical University of Comillas-Madrid by several members of UNIJES (Spanish Jesuit Institutions of Higher Education) under the theme of “Natural Resources and Sustainability”. This was a preliminary meeting in order to assess the possibilities to establish a permanent working group in the framework of UNIJES. After a certain time of informal conversations finally we moved forward in order to gather representatives from UNIJES institutions that are dealing with “sustainability” at different levels.

ETEA-Faculty of Economics (Córdoba) is working in the economic aspects of renewable energies, especially solar and bio-fuels. ESADE-Faculty of Business Administration (Barcelona) is linking the problems of sustainability with training for leadership, responsible concurrence, and the dimensions of sustainability in marketing, or the suppliers-chain. Deusto-Tech (Bilbao) is an Institute created from the School of Engineers of Deusto University, its aim is to promote the research in the fields of energy and environment and their projects are developed in partnership with companies from the region. INEA-School of Agronomics (Valladolid) has implemented the new curriculum under the paradigm of the “sustainability”, the agriculture of the future cannot be thought in the same productivity perspective forgetting the environmental implications. The Institute of Technological Innovation is a (IIT- Comillas School of Engineers; Madrid) is a leading institution on electrical systems and economics of electric sector, since 2002 exists the BP Chair on Sustainable Development that promotes discussion among researchers, the industries and policy makers about the challenges of the electric sector in Spain. OCIPE (Brussels) participated as observer looking for the European implications of further developments.

The discussions encouraged the possibility to constitute a permanent working group with different objectives. First, the need to analyze the values we are transmitting to our students in our Higher Education institutions, namely, the place we are actually given to “Sustainability”. While for many it is yet an extracurricular subject, or recently incorporated, it was very stimulating to know that INEA has developed fully the new undergraduate program under the perspective of sustainability. Second, it arises as another common interest the reflexion about sustainable energy models; the participants recognized that quite often their approaches are very much concrete and focused in the technical projects they are developing, they shared the need for a framework that could make possible to identify a sustainable energy model that could help to make coherent the particular researches and technical implementations that are the basis of their work.

Many other questions came into the meeting, as the possibility of a common work about the different Observatories that are running at present: Corporative Social Responsibility (ESADE); Electricity in Spain (IIT-Comillas) and Energy (Deusto); good practices to develop green campuses; and the possibility of some common graduate programs.

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