Wayne State University and the University of Windsor have been designated as a new United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development in the Detroit-Windsor region.
This RCE initiative is a joint effort between the two universities. Focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, it will identify actions that address climate change, economic and health disparities, and social inequity to create a more sustainable future for the two communities that share an international border. The partnership will build on and expand related education and research initiatives underway at both universities and in the cities of Detroit and Windsor.
Ahmad Ezzeddine, vice president of Academic Student Affairs and Global Engagement (ASAGE), is leading the Wayne State side of the project with Stephanie Hartwell, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Darryl Pierson, coordinator of the Office of Sustainability, and Elena Past, professor of Italian.
“The RCE designation offers a unique opportunity to embrace a multi-stakeholder global network, highlighting and amplifying our strengths as leaders in sustainability and collaboration,” WSU President M. Roy Wilson says. “We will focus on the challenges that our region faces as a transnational metropolitan area where water is one of the most vital and precious resources, where our shared automotive economic history provides common challenges in the need for transformation, and where there are often deep familial or cultural ties that transcend our border.”
The UWindsor team has been spearheaded by Dr. Edwin Tam, acting associate vice president (academic) and associate professor of engineering, Dr. Lee Rodney, associate professor, School of Creative Arts, and Dr. Anneke Smit, director, Centre for Cities and associate professor, Windsor Law. Approximately 20 faculty members at both institutions have been involved in the year-long process leading to certification.
“The University of Windsor is honoured to partner with Wayne State University as a United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development to foster more equitable and sustainable development on both sides of our international border,” says UWindsor President Robert Gordon.
“Our unique location offers exciting opportunities to collaborate on a range of sustainable development initiatives to benefit the entire urban border region. Under the leadership of talented and interdisciplinary faculty members, and in collaboration with municipal governments and community partners, we look forward to taking a transnational approach and combining efforts to further the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
There are 179 UN-recognized RCE-ESDs around the world. The Detroit-Windsor team’s immediate goals include establishing bi-national working groups between experts and stakeholders in both countries and creating new channels of authority to allow participants to access physical resources, apply for funding, and conduct joint research.
In addition to the cultural exchange and learning environments created by the RCE, new curricular initiatives to be explored between the two institutions will include joint degree programs, virtual exchange programs with project-based learning, and formalizing agreements to allow students to take advantage of classes and research opportunities in both countries. Research areas will include community health and well-being, equitable city-building practices, public transportation, industry and innovation in the green economy, clean water, sustainable urban planning and housing policy, and climate action.
The Detroit-Windsor RCE application was supported by the cities of Detroit and Windsor as well as school boards, chambers of commerce and economic development agencies, United Way, and community foundations. The RCE plans to expand collaborations to other community partners such as conservation authorities and grassroots environmental and climate organizations.
The RCE primary office will be at Wayne State under the auspices of ASAGE in partnership with the university’s Office of Sustainability. A satellite office will be established at the University of Windsor in the Office of the Associate Vice President External Dr. Vincent Georgie, in collaboration with the director of sustainability. A working group of faculty members will support the leadership of the RCE at both institutions, and a community advisory board from collaborating organizations is planned.
For more information contact Carol Baldwin at 734-771-0110.