CHARM-EU's Educational Approach: 10 Key Features
The university of the future needs a new educational approach. The challenges of the 21st century can only be met with learning models that embrace transdisciplinarity and foster new ideas. To do this, students must be equipped with skills that cross traditional barriers and enable innovation. This ambition is central to CHARM-EU's mission and has informed the development of its educational model. The model champions technology, flexibility, and mobility in harmony with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The 10 key features of the CHARM-EU educational approach are explained below.
CHARM-EU is innately and deliberately transdisciplinary. Different disciplines, industries, organisations, and individuals come together to combine ideas and solve complex problems in ways that have not been possible using traditional methods. Our students may come from any discipline and learn Transdisciplinary Research Skills during the Master’s programme. They are taught by multiple disciplines, and work with business and society to solve transdisciplinary challenges, drawing on their rich personal educational experiences and sharing their knowledge with their peers, business, academia, and society.
2. Student centeredness
Student-centeredness puts the student at the heart of their educational experiences. Their needs, interests, and abilities are considered and responded to throughout their time in CHARM-EU. Students can direct their own education pathways by choosing one of three themes (Water, Food, and Life and Health) in our Master’s in Global Challenges for Sustainability. Students are active partners in the design, development, and organisation of CHARM-EU, contributing to feedback and evaluations sessions, and at our Staff Student Council. This enables us to refine and improve our educational offering in response to our students’ needs.
CHARM-EU exists to enable students, teaching staff, business, and society to create solutions “to secure a sustainable, peaceful, prosperous and equitable life on Earth for everyone now and in the future” (UNESCO, 2017). CHARM-EU research and education supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and key European missions including those in the Horizon Europe Framework Programme and the European Green Deal. Its programmes support the development of UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development competencies.
4. Knowledge Creation Teams
Collaboration is key to problem-solving. CHARM-EU enables collaboration across disciplines, businesses, society, and students in Knowledge Creation Teams. Working together to share knowledge and expertise across subject areas and borders, these teams develop educational programmes, foster research collaborations, and build networks across our alliance.
5. Inter-institutional administration
Working across many different universities in different countries is a challenging task. CHARM-EU uses an inter-institutional Joint Virtual Administrative Office (JVAO) to handle registrations, education, services, board management, and mobility for CHARM-EU students and staff. We have established a physical office withinfive of our partner universities, staffed by CHARM-EU JVAO officers. These offices are connected virtually, allowing for effective communication and coordination.
6. Challenge-based learning
Challenge-Based Learning is an innovative educational approach where students, academic teachers, businesses, and society work together to address grand societal challenges. In our Master’s program, students engage in challenges related to the Sustainable Development Goals, culminating in a six-month Capstone challenge. Learn more about the inspiring challenges our students worked on last year.
CHARM-EU offers a unique system where mobility is considered the norm, integrating it into its educational principles, teaching objectives, and overall delivery. This includes a combination of virtual exchange programs, physical mobility opportunities, and blended mobility experiences, providing students with diverse and immersive learning opportunities.
8. Hybrid classrooms
Hybrid and virtual learning is central to the CHARM-EU approach. Our five bespoke hybrid classrooms, located in our partner institutions, enable students to connect with each other, with teaching staff across our alliance, and with external stakeholders beyond the walls of their own institution. Learn more in our open access article.
CHARM-EU's educational model positions inclusivity at the heart of the student experience. Educational pathways are designed to cater students’ learning needs and preferences to the greatest extent possible considering their their various backgrounds, access needs. . This approach enables all students to embrace their learning opportunities and fulfil their potential. Where possible, any barriers that prevent students from learning are minimised or removed.
10. Our unique educational programmes
The Master’s in Global Challenges for Sustainability was the pilot for CHARM-EU's educational approach and principles. To date, over 120 students have completed the course over two cohorts. In the future, CHARM-EU is exploring the potential for Doctoral programmes, exemplar learning experiences, micro-credentials, and integrating CHARM-EU educational values into existing Bachelors and Master’s programmes.
These 10 key features form the foundations of CHARM-EU's educational approach. The model is flexible and student-focussed, enabling students to take a leading role in designing their own curriculum and directing their learning. CHARM-EU cultivates a culture of transdisciplinarity, enabling problem-solving by bringing together different disciplines and experiences from our student, teaching, and research communities. The alliance strives for inclusivity, adapting and developing to provide student-centered educational experience and enable learning, discussion, and mobility.
This article was written by Dr Silvia Gallagher, Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, and Dr Jake Byrne, Assistant Professor in Education at Trinity College Dublin. For more information on the CHARM-EU educational approach, email email@example.com