University of Bremen: University of Bremen strengthens sustainability in online teaching

One of the goals of the Virtual Academy Sustainability (VAN) is close cooperation with the university’s departments in order to give as many students as possible from all courses in the elective area access to education for sustainable development. “Climate protection and adaptation, biodiversity, sustainability and communication as well as sustainable leadership, for example, are future course topics,” says Professor Martin Diekmann, board member of the academy.

With the consolidation as a scientific institution, VAN also wants to try out new e-learning formats with innovative technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, games-based learning and AI chatbots for online courses in the future. To ensure these tasks, the position of coordinating head of VAN was established, which Dr. Denis Pijetlovic will take over from February 1st, 2022.

“With the combination of sustainability focus and virtual processing, the Virtual Academy forms a promising interface, the expansion of which underlines the sustainability profile and digitization efforts of the University of Bremen,” says the University’s Chancellor, Frauke Meyer.

As an institute, VAN starts with 12 courses on sustainability and offers these as part of the eGeneral Studies program. “In the course of the coming year, our courses will gradually be converted into a new, more modern format and provided with new support elements, such as English subtitles,” explains Katharina Lingenau, an employee at the Center for Multimedia in Teaching (ZMML). The unique selling point of the Virtual Academy Sustainability: By booking online courses, students acquire credit points (CP) that are recognized in their degree program.

The departments of biology, geosciences, economics, and linguistics and literature are the founding departments. The facility is managed by Prof. Dr. Martin Diekmann (FB2 – Biology), Dr. Elisabeth Hollerweger (Faculty 12 – Educational Sciences) and Prof. Dr. Georg Müller-Christ (FB7 – Economics), supported by the Center for Multimedia in Teaching (ZMML) and Professor Thomas Hoffmeister, Vice Rector for Teaching and Studies. For him, the Virtual Academy Sustainability is an important platform, especially with a view to the international teaching that is being developed for Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE).

The courses of the Virtual Academy are open to everyone in the sense of Open Educational Resources and cooperation with other universities is a major concern of the Board of Directors.