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The Active8-Planet Project is a three-year educational innovation project. Recent global movements indicate a rapidly growing awareness and eagerness of the European youth to actively engage with securing a sustainable future for all. Even though the need for a holistic, interdisciplinary and cross-sector approach to sustainability has been increasingly recognised on research and policy levels, the trickle-down to higher education has been slow. 

Active8-Planet builds a knowledge alliance jointly developing, implementing and assessing the impact of a new Active8-Planet learning model based on 4 principles of planet-centred development: (1) Interdisciplinary and Intergenerational Co-creation, (2) People-centred development, (3) University-Business Collaboration, (4) Environmental Ambition and Action. In “7+1 Team Projects”, students, teachers/researchers, and company professionals will be applying and refining the collaborative approach to co-create practice-based interventions in the areas of sustainable mobility, circularity in built environment, and health & wellbeing. Bridging between sectors, disciplines and generations, the project will provide a platform for transforming the isolated and discipline-specific knowledge into collaborative climate and sustainability actions. As a result of learning activities, the project will raise the first cohorts of dedicated, risk-taking young individuals (the “Planeteers”) becoming ambassadors of the Active8-Planet principles and active co-creators of their sustainable future. 

By adopting a robust and elaborate dissemination and exploitation strategy, the impact of the project’s activities, results and partnership will be sustained beyond its lifetime, in particular by: institutionalising the learning model in existing courses using ECTS system; developing an agenda to cultivate new 7+1 Team Projects; and transferring the collaborative approach into research, development, and innovation projects.

In addition, the Active8-Planet project has a set of Core Guiding Agendas - those key ideas, arising from the needs analysis, that permeate the project approach and activities, serving simultaneously as an inspiration, a guideline and a vision. At the centre of the project’s attention is the recognition of the fragile equilibrium and the dynamic interplay between the social foundation and the ecological ceiling that sustains a safe and just life on the planet. The project’s ambition and approach are based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The project is strategically guided by the European Green Deal, which sets the EU’s comprehensive agenda for transforming the economy for a sustainable future. As the Green Deal acknowledges, mobilisation of research in a collaborative and interdisciplinary mode will play an integral part in achieving the ambitious objectives, while (higher) education institutions are particularly well placed for engaging students, securing a societal pull and an involvement of local communities in the transition. Ethics in research and development is therefore the third core guiding agenda that will guide the project team in their research, cooperation and action.

Aims and Objectives

The project aim is to develop, implement and assess the impact of a new Active8-Planet learning model, which will integrate 4 key planet-centred development principles:

  1. Interdisciplinary and Intergenerational Co-creation,
  2. People-centred development,
  3. University-Business Collaboration,
  4. Environmental Ambition and Action.

The Active8-Planet learning model will be piloted and evaluated through two consecutive Active8-Planet Learning Cycles involving eight different interdisciplinary, intergenerational and cross-sectoral 7+1 Team Projects consisting of students, teachers, researchers, industry professionals and other relevant stakeholders (e.g. NGOs, governments, public authorities etc.). In these, the planet-centred development approaches will be applied, tested, and refined through collaboration, e.g. teams will jointly explore and frame the contemporary environmental and societal challenges; research the practices, behaviour and needs of people, situating them within the social contexts; analyse and interpret the data, and co-create concepts and interventions to support a transition towards a balanced life on Earth. In this way, the Active8-Planet project aims to develop and implement an innovative learning model that responds to the identified challenges and needs in terms of topics addressed (i.e. complex, multi-faceted sustainability challenges), learning approach (i.e. interdisciplinary and applied team research, problem-based learning), learning content (i.e. planet-centred research and development methodology, transferable skills and competences), and higher education curricula development towards increased relevance for sustainability action (i.e. cross-sector collaboration, engagement of non-academic partners in curricula design, implementation and evaluation). 

Specific objectives 

  1. To consolidate and capitalize the existing fragmented knowledge, skills and experience in planet-centred development by developing a roadmap as a baseline, direction and guidelines for the Active8-Planet learning model, programme and curriculum design, implementation and systematic evaluation.  
  2. To facilitate and foster interdisciplinary, intergenerational, multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral cooperation and to enhance the exchange, flow and co-creation of knowledge at transnational level by developing, implementing and evaluating different collaboration and activation platforms. 
  3. To provide evidence of the replication potential and educational impact for HEIs and companies by prototyping, testing and iterating the collaborative Active8-Planet learning model and methodology. 
  4. To ensure sustainability and transferability of key project outcomes and to enhance sustainable integration of Active8-Planet learning approach in other higher education institutions at European level by developing and widely disseminating the Active8-Planet toolkit. 
  5. To familiarize and sensitize young people with key principles of the Active8-Planet approach by developing, testing and promoting a gamified awareness-raising tool. 

Contributing to the objectives of the Knowledge Alliances action: Active8-Planet Project will establish a knowledge alliance of participating higher education and non-academic partners jointly developing, implementing and evaluating new learning and teaching model based on the 4 key planet-centred development principles. Within the learning cycles, the 7+1 project teams (students, professors and practitioners) will jointly develop concepts and interventions for challenging issues, product and process innovation to open up possibilities for sustainable futures. Examples of cooperation activities and best practices will be made available and widely disseminated to other education intuitions, companies and other non-academic stakeholders to achieve transferability and sustainability of project results and concrete outcomes. The project aims at strengthening the employability, creativity and developing new professional paths on the crossings of existing fields and disciplines raising the first cohorts of passionate, dedicated, active and risk-taking pioneers (“Planeteers” – the Active8-Planet ambassadors) to undertake, challenge and iterate on Active8-Planet approach and enhance the curriculum for the next generations.