The Aalborg Centre for Problem Based Learning in Engineering Science and Sustainability (hereafter the Aalborg Centre), is a category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO, approved by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 2013.
The Aalborg Centre was formally launched on May 26, 2014.
Globally, there is a need for educating engineers and scientists who can participate in the development of sustainable innovations. This will imply a reform of engineering and science education to educate engineers with employable knowledge and skills.
The Aalborg Centre contributes to a reform strategy to higher education by combining problem and project-based learning (PBL), Engineering Education Research (EER) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This is a unique combination of Research & Development areas that are mutually dependent and complementary. For example, sustainable knowledge and skills require complex learning processes across existing disciplines and PBL is a learning methodology beneficial for that purpose.
The activities proposed by the Aalborg Centre will combine research, education and development across the three research areas mentioned above.
A driving force for the Aalborg Centre is the exemplary practice of Aalborg University for both PBL and the integration of sustainability in engineering and science education. Since 1974, Aalborg University has practised PBL as the pedagogical learning methodology applied during the entire study period. Moreover, Aalborg University aims for all students to gain knowledge, skills and competences in sustainability as a result of a series of sub-learning outcomes throughout their education.
The Aalborg Centre encompasses the UNESCO Chair in Problem Based Learning (UCPBL) which was established in 2007 and is renowned for its accomplishments in supporting the development of problem-based and project-based learning in engineering education. The Aalborg Centre, therefore, starts with the entire activity portfolio from the UCPBL. The Obel Family Foundation has kindly offered to sponsor the UNESCO Centre in PBL for a period of five years with the main task of leading the Aalborg Centre.
Vision and Mission
The vision of the Aalborg Centre is to contribute to greener and more democratic global societies. Engineers and scientists play an important role in this development as technology, in one way or another, has a societal and sustainable impact. At the heart of sustainability lies a wish to obtain and maintain an economic, ecologic and social balance that can provide a secure platform for future generations. Regarding engineering and science education, this calls for a flexible learning philosophy that can be appropriated by different educational institutions and suits the ever-changing and complex challenges of the global society.
Therefore, we need to re-think the way we educate tomorrow’s engineers and scientists. The Aalborg Centre provides proposals for future directions of education by integrating more sustainable knowledge and by re-thinking teaching and learning methodologies.
In order to pursue this vision, the strategic mission of the Aalborg Centre will focus on:
- creating a global network of practitioners, researchers, experts and institutions within the field of problem-based and project-based learning (PBL) in engineering science and sustainability from developing and developed economies, and thereby exchange knowledge on how to change engineering and science education for PBL and sustainable development at national, regional and international levels
- establishing international research and doctoral training on PBL and sustainability in engineering and science education
- providing global formal education and training for academic staff and students
- outreach to institutions and schools for attracting students to engineering and science and provide open access to higher education institutions and governments open access to a body of knowledge, education, training and other resources.