Objective 1: Introducing interdisciplinary, integrative and innovative scientific approaches, concepts and methods on environmental relations, natural resources and conflict
The quality-based selection process started by the end of 2017 and it focused on several topics: granting scholarships for doctoral students; financing post-doctoral visiting scholarships; organizing meetings and trainings for the development of curricula with interdisciplinary modules; establishing a research agenda; building a stakeholder network; selecting and training staff (coordinators, assistants and professors); discussing about a internationalization strategy; and starting up the first training activities (English courses, e-learning concepts and data management tools).
Both the ZEF and the IDEA agreed on applying contextualized selection criteria to grant six doctoral scholarships per year for the next three years (2018, 2019, and 2020) to Colombian candidates from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UN). Additionally, the DSSP will grant two six-month research scholarships per year for post-doctoral students from the IDEA (including its regional seats in the country) for the development of projects aiming at the study of the interactions between humans and the rest of the nature in Colombia. Two writing fellowships are also foreseen for the development of joint projects and publications; these will be awarded to researchers from the UN and other universities in the region. These short-term scholarships allow the high-quality scientific interaction and the joint production of knowledge of South-South and South-North allies. The selection criteria follow the guidelines of the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD).
The development of the DSSP is supported by several learning methods (blended learning) and online education components through the digital platform Learning Management System (LMS) by Moodle, which is an open-access system for academic and non-academic education widely used worldwide.
Objective 2: Developing a research agenda addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The DSSP aims at building a joint research agenda with a balanced participation of academics from both universities, representatives of communities and other stakeholders interested in the peacebuilding processes in Colombia. The development of this research agenda starts by jointly identifying the main topics emerging from the main thematic core of the program (environment, development, territory, national peace) based on the experiences of academics and local communities. Other visions, such as those from NGOs, civil servants and private actors are also included. This variety of perspectives allows formulating specific projects that cover several aspects of these complex themes.
Objective 3: Internationalizing science and fostering comparative analysis of research sites/regions with transnational and regional partners.
The main objective of the internationalization strategy is highlighting the academic and research projects of the DSSP within the international scientific community. A particular action is the exchange of professors to develop and implement the interdisciplinary curricula, the research agenda, the publications and the joint research proposals. A subsequent step is connecting researchers from different disciplines and regions to discuss related subjects (such as extractivism and land grabbing) in order to make comparative analysis between South-South partners.
The core of the internationalization strategy are the African and Asian schools affiliated to the DAAD’s Bilateral SDG Graduate Schools Program, particularly those whose node in Germany is the ZEF (University of Bonn).
Objective 4: Exploring and critically reflecting the role of higher education for the SDGs.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its key messages towards people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership need science and higher education to increase the chances of success. Any development initiative is based on the scientific knowledge produced by international partners and constantly spread in the political, society and economic spheres. German universities and their different internationalization strategies are targeting towards the co-production of knowledge, joint perspectives and the engagement in transformative action in order to improve the contribution of higher education for reaching the SDGs. The partners of the DSSP not only will establish new alliances to increase the rate of post-graduate students in the partner universities; they also will re-think higher education by addressing the terms, conditions and processes of knowledge production to foster the integration of the universities and appreciate diverse educational systems and environments around the world.