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Rethinking Higher Education Dialogue Series: Exploring the New Recommendation on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Sustainable Development


On February 7th, 2024, a distinguished panel of experts met as part of the new Rethinking Higher Education Dialogue Series to discuss the recently revised Recommendation on Education for Peace and Human Rights, International Understanding, Cooperation, Fundamental Freedoms, Global Citizenship and Sustainable Development adopted by UNESCO in 2023. The event, organized by the UNESCO Chair in Higher Education for Sustainable Development at Leuphana University as part of the UNITWIN cooperation programme on Education for Sustainable Development and Social Transformations activities, aimed to delve into the implications of this revision, which supersedes the 1974 Recommendation and sets forth a comprehensive framework for aligning education with global aspirations for peace and sustainability.

The online dialogue, conducted via Zoom, featured insightful contributions from renowned speakers Mirian Vilela (Earth Charter Education Center at the University of Peace, Costa Rica), Heila Lotz-Sisitka (Rhodes University, South Africa), Lutz Möller (German Commission for UNESCO), and the dialogue's moderator, Daniel Fischer (Leuphana University).

Please find here the link to the webinar´s recording.

Rethinking Higher Education ©Leuphana
``Rethinking Higher Education´´ Dialogue Series

Key points of the discussion

Lutz Möller commenced the dialogue by providing a historical context behind the revision of the 1974 Recommendation, emphasizing its importance in addressing contemporary challenges such as climate change and arising conflicts. Heila Lotz-Sisitka further highlighted the shifts in the document, mainly its enhanced focus on the role of education in shaping the future.

Mirian Vilela offered valuable perspectives on the need for collaborative action and the explicit recognition of diverse stakeholders in promoting sustainable development and peace education. She emphasized how crucial the updated Recommendation is to energize both state and non-state actors to support these shared objectives, adding that "the beauty of this new instrument is that it can bring different views and movements together."

Throughout the dialogue, participants reflected on the legal status of the document and its potential to drive meaningful action at both national and international levels. Lutz Möller emphasized the document's unique status as the sole intergovernmental instrument outlining the global agenda for education, while Heila Lotz-Sisitka further underscored its role as a catalyst for dialogue and collaboration.

Rethinking education's role in promoting peace, human rights, and sustainable development is crucial, as the conversation series offered a forum for critical thought and discussion. In closing, Daniel Fischer emphasized the transformative power of law in shaping educational paradigms and invited participants to apply the new Recommendation to spur constructive change in global educational systems.

We look forward to continuing this critical conversation in the following dialogues of the series.

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Speakers’ details:

​Mirian Vilela is the Executive Director of the Earth Charter International Secretariat and the Center for Education for Sustainable Development at UPEACE. She coordinates the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter and served as a member of the UNESCO Expert Reference Group for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). Over the years she has led and facilitated numerous international workshops, courses and seminars on values and principles for sustainability.

​Lutz Möller is Deputy Secretary-General of the German Commission for UNESCO and Head of its Policy Department. He works at the German Commission for UNESCO since 2004 and has an overall responsibility for policy advice to the German federal and state governments on all issues related to German participation in UNESCO and implementation of UNESCO's international law in Germany. In 2023, he has been a German lead negotiator for the UNESCO Recommendation on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Sustainable Development.

​Heila Lotz-Sisitka holds the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) Chair in Global Change and Social Learning Systems. Based in the Environmental Learning Research Centre at Rhodes University (South Africa), Lotz-Sisitka is a Professor in Education. Her research interests include critical research methodologies, transformative environmental learning,agency, and education system transformation.

​Daniel Fischer is Professor for Sustainability Education & Communication at Leuphana University of Lüneburg and holds the UNESCO Chair in Higher Education for Sustainable Development. His research explores how more sustainable ways of living and consuming can be facilitated through communication and learning. Prof. Fischer will be the facilitator of this discussion.