Lifelong Learning to be Critical – A Personal Reflection by Anna Nordén

Photo: Eivind Senneset for University of Bergen

SDG conference at University of Bergen #SDGbergen 8-9 February 2018

What a momentum – with heads of universities, researchers, students, university administrators, ministers, practitioners from national governmental agencies, business leaders, chiefs of UN Agencies, NGO representative, youth leaders and even the Prime Minister of Norway gathered at the SDG conference in the beautiful Aula of the University of Bergen together creating an atmosphere of enthusiasm and leadership.

Two days filled with eminent people pledging for the importance of all sectors to collaborate for the implementation of the SDGs. We heard words like collaboration, cooperation, teamwork, doing it together, networking all mentioned as key factors for the SDGs and to move society from silo-arrangement to interdisciplinary.

Some raised that interdisciplinary should not come at the cost of disciplinary knowledge. Personally, I rather tend to think that interdisciplinarity is about connectivity rather than being the same.

Hence, by collaborating between disciplines deeper knowledge within disciplines is created as well as holistic understandings. One keystone in building functioning collaborations is trust. Trust takes time to build and to keep. For this I argue that we need to set the right incentives for universities to build trustworthy collaborations with the surrounding society.

To do that we also need to be the role models of what we are teaching. Universities are large organizations where their operation have huge impact on the society. Not only through the knowledge we create by our research and spread through our students but also through the procurements that we do. Let us make sure to use our purchasing power and make our procurement sustainable and fair!

Let me also mention the need to get sustainability into the ranking and accreditation of Higher Education. Here we have a lot of work to do and a very important work as well. We cannot let the ranking set the priorities for us.

A priority that universities should have is the lifelong learning. Universities should be more open to build capacity both within academia and outside to allow people to learn during their whole lifetime.

By focusing on lifelong learning universities could take a more active part in making sure that knowledge regarding sustainable development is not just with the few but with all.

Maybe the most important message that I have after these inspiring days, is that universities should continuing being universities. Universities have the important role in society to be critical. Let us never stop being critical and never stop teaching our future generations to be critical.

Interviews from the conference


Learn more about the SDG Conference in Bergen >>
Watch Anna Nordéns speech >>

See the conference in full:
The stream from day 1 – Thursday 8 February, 2018.
The stream from day 2 – Friday 9 February, 2018.

SDSN logotype