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CARPE European Sustainable Solutions for Existing and New City Environments
Start date: Sep 1, 2014, End date: Aug 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The NEEDS In the coming decades important geographical, demographical and environmental changes will take place in the urban environment. The rate of urbanization is increasing rapidly, the age structure of the urban population is shifting towards more elderly people, and environmental pressures in especially urban areas are increasing. These changes challenges us to develop integrated sustainable solutions for economic, social and environment problems in urban areas. To optimize solutions, a tight cooperation between HEI's and local authorities is needed. The need for a transition towards more sustainable cities requires a reinforcement of academic programs that educate professionals being able to develop viable solutions for creating smart sustainable cities. The cooperation of universities and municipalities will result at the end in local changes. Regions will learn from each other’s approaches and universities learn to work together on societal challenges. PRIORITIES ADDRESSED The most relevant priorities addressed in the project are ‘Contributing to the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems as outlined in the 2011 EU Modernisation Agenda’ and ‘Promoting the take-up of practical entrepreneurial experiences in education, training and youth work’. TOPCS ADRESSED, THE KEY-OBJECTIVES and EXPECTED IMPACTS 1) (Inter)Regional dimension and cooperation: ESSENCE aims at accelerating the design, development and uptake of viable solutions for sustainable cities by enhancing cooperation between HEIs and regional authorities such as municipalities, incubators (e.g. by introducing an international Sustainable City student competition and a Start-Up competition for students). The expected impacts include: an increased sustainability in urban areas, an increased collaboration between regional authorities, businesses and HEIs, an increased employment and new business opportunities. 2) Environment & climate change: ESSENCE aims at developing a joint international course programme on creating sustainable cities, involving HEIs and regional authorities. ESSENCE aims at disseminating large parts as open course ware and setting an example for other regions. The expected impacts include: reinforced study programs on sustainable cities, more sustainable city areas, an increased employability of graduates, and the generation of new business opportunities. 3) New innovative curricula/educational methods/development of training courses: ESSENCE aims at investigating, exchanging and testing best practices of innovative teaching approaches, blended learning, distance learning, flipped classroom and ICT methods, and to implement those in a joint course (30 ECTS) on creating sustainable cities. The main expected impact of the project include an increased uptake of innovative teaching approaches leading to the modernization of HEI education. THE MAIN TARGET GROUPS The target groups of the project are 1) students, trainees, apprentices of HEIs; 2) experts, specialists, professionals (Incubator Facilities, SME's); 3) officials and decision makers (municipalities); 4) researchers, teaching staff of HEIs, 5) others, any person or organisation interested in the outcomes of the project. THE PROJECT PARTNERS The project partners in ESSENCE are 5 HEI’s and 3 municipalities. The HEI's are partners in CARPE (Consortium on Applied Research and Professional Education), first of this kind in the field of Applied Sciences in Europe, started in 2011. CARPE aims at connecting education and research with their regions to increase social and economic value of the knowledge that they create. THE SCHEDULE and MAIN ACTIVITIES The duration of ESSENCE is 3-years. In the first year the challenges for developing sustainable cities will be discussed in more detail, staff will be trained in the use of innovative teaching approaches, a conference on blended learning, and an infrastructure for using Open Education Resources (OER) will be built. In the second year, course material for a joint programme of 30 ECTS will be completed, a national student Sustainable City competition and an international Start-Up competition for students will be organized. In the last year, the joint course programme will be tried out in Utrecht (in a blended learning format), an international student Sustainable City competition in the 3 municipalities (Utrecht, Turku and Alcoi). A conference on viable solutions for a sustainable city environment is scheduled. Follow up activities will be worked out. PROJECT MANAGEMENT and QUALITY ASSURANCE The key players in the project management include the project leader (responsible for overall project management), the project board (direction of the project), the project controller (responsible for monitoring and tracking the budget), a steering group (responsible quality assurance) and leading project partners for each project activity. A policy for the monitoring, quality assurance and evaluation will be developed.
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