Friday the participants wrapped up their two weeks training in dimensions of ESD by taking a trip to visit an eco-village and university in the state of Brandenburg. The group traveled firstly to a bio-farm in the eco-village where they were given a tour of the farm. The farm is one of the main bio food producers in Germany and has been responsible for creating jobs for the region after the political change in the country. The group were then given a history of how the village worked in co-operation to become a leader in organic foods and sustainable agriculture. They were shown the organic milk being packaged by farm workers before being shown the cattle sheds and the advanced standard of living for the animals.
The participants were then taken to Eberswalde and the ‘Hochschule fur Nachhaltige Entwicklung (HNE)’, a university for sustainable development in the region. After having lunch in the cafeteria the group were given a tour of the main city campus and had a number of regeneration projects pointed out to them. They could see how the buildings had been made more energy efficient and rejuvenated within them which has helped to create a better atmosphere for the students. It could be seen that as well as having an ecological dimension within the university (through having departments for energy & Sustainable Agriculture) there is also a social dimension by increasing the social welfare of it’s students. And this is a key aspect of implementing ESD within a learning institute.
The participants were also told of how the university is known for it’s work in forestry and they were then taken to the ‘forestry campus’ nearby and given a presentation on HNE inside the sustainable building in the forest. The forest academy is famous for producing renowned scientists. Issues discussed during the presentation include the family friendly atmosphere of the institute, sustainable transport for the student within the city, and involvement in Erasmus. This sparked a high level of interest in the university by the participants and perhaps has sold them the idea of pursuing their masters in this institute.
This trip will also link up well to the next stage of the training which is on the topic of co-operation and stakeholder management. The group were told of how the University co-operates with the eco-village and farms. This is because the students in agriculture usually lack practical experience but due to this co-operation they can get real experience and work together with farmers in the region.
Next week will see Fabien Busch return as facilitator for the group and the participants will also be introduced to a new facilitator.On