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Can We Learn How to Engage with Society?
How to foster Civic Engagement for Global Solidarity of Students in Higher Education ?
The main mission of education is to form the citizens of tomorrow. How to encourage and support students in this endeavor from within institutions for higher education ?
Universities in North and Latin America have developed pedagogical methods and tools to this end, which are firmly anchored in their curricula for more than 30 years. In Europe this focus is fairly new (with Irish and Spanish universities taking the lead). In Belgium the Catholic University of Leuven has created the first « Service Learning Project».
In the Walloon region four NGO’s have been organizing (extracurricular) on-campus activities at UNamur, UCL, ULB and ULiège, to inform, sensitize and engage students for projects related to international solidarity on campus for 30 years. They have now joined forces in a consortium called Uni4Coop, to advance the case of citizenship education within the curriculum of the university and to open up the campus to the surrounding community.
Now that universities are rethinking their role in society, the time seems propitious to invite stakeholders from the academic field, teaching staff and students, as well as community actors, to reflect together on how to anchor the pedagogical reflection on students’ experience in community work within the institutional setting of the university and valorize this learning experience as part of the formal education of a new generation.