The e-course entitled “Management of Biosphere Reserves and other designated areas” refers actually to the second online phase of the 2021-2021 Asterousia Hybrid University.

Amid the restrictions due to COVID-19, this was the second year that the course was designed in an Hybrid format. Its online part extended to four weeks and combined asynchronous and synchronous learning, covering the following thematic areas:

  • Week 1 focused on the MAB Programme, the SDG frame and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030;
  • Week 2 focused on management, communication and branding of BRs;
  • Week 3 focused on Marine Ecosystems in the Mediterranean, the Ocean Decade and Marine Litter
  • Week 4 was dedicated to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and youth-led initiatives in BRs.

The topics were presented through a variety of means such as: video lectures of invited experts, articles and guidebooks, visual material from the Asterousia BR, as well as interactive exercises. In addition, the learners had the opportunity to “meet-the-expert” of each Week during the four live sessions taking place every Thursday. All video lectures as well as the recorded meet-the-expert sessions are available on the MIO-ECSDE Youtube Channel.

The e-course had more than 120 applicants, from 33 countries. Despite the expected losses and drop outs  many of them have successfully completed all of the requested course work.

Admittedly the overall attendance was about half the size of a similar e-course that run 14 months ago (December 2020), but this can be explained with the “zoom-fatigue” that is observed internationally, after spending two years behind our screens, thanks to COVID-19. Actually, the high level of engagement of those that did follow the time demanding tasks and completed their assignments is rewarding and motivating for the organisers! 

The e-course in numbers: 
Applications: 123
Countries: 33
Never or once logged: 43
Active learners: 80
Trainers: 20
Assignments completed: 49
Certifications: 49
Meet the expert live meetings: 4 (once a week)
Meet the expert attendants: a) ~60 b) ~40   c) ~40 d) ~40
Evaluations Completed: 34

The course promotion through UNESCO Venice Channels.

I have also discovered some marvelous cultural landscapes in southern Crete and got many ideas for my future approaches on environment sustainability, mainly in working with my students.

Take-away, Week 4

Transformative engagement! Further from learning and experience, transformative engagement can be a two-way street!

Take away - Week 4

In achieving the ESD vision, I find it very important to engage people. Engaging others to be a part of the solution encourages people to want to do more. Sometimes people want to be a part of something and want to make a difference. The challenge I find is engaging people, finding out what motivates each person. Not everyone is captivated by the same thing. You have to design programs to meet the various needs to others and that ensure that no one is left out.

Achieving my ESD vision, Week 4

The 2021-2022 Asterousia Hybrid University was co-organised and supported by: MIO-ECSDE/MEdIES Secretariat, the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (Venice Office), the Asterousia Biosphere Reserve, the Prefecture of Crete, the UNESCO Chair and Network on Sustainable Development Management and Education in the Mediterranean, the Greek National Committee for MAB/UNESCO, with the contribution of the LIFE Programme of the European Union and of the Green Fund of Greece.