UNESCO Chairs were first established in 1992 to enhance inter-university cooperation and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise in areas that align with UNESCO's mission. The UNITWIN (University Twinning and Networking) program was later launched in 1994 to encourage the creation of networks between universities for the purpose of knowledge sharing and joint research.
UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN networks play a crucial role in advancing global cooperation in the field of education and beyond. Established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The initiative aims at advancing and improving the development of research, training, and development programmes in higher education, through the building of university networks, the promotion of inter-university cooperation and the transfer of knowledge worldwide to address common challenges and promote the development of sustainable, just, and inclusive societies. They strive to create a global community of educators, researchers, and students dedicated to building a more sustainable and just future through the transformative power of education, aiming at addressing complex global issues and creating a positive impact on society.
UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN networks are closely aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They actively contribute to the achievement of various SDGs, particularly those related to quality education (SDG 4), gender equality (SDG 5), and partnerships for the goals (SDG 17). Through collaborative research and educational programs, these initiatives work towards building a more sustainable and equitable world.
As we navigate the evolving landscape of education, UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN networks play a pivotal role in shaping the future of learning. By promoting innovation, inclusivity, and interdisciplinary approaches, these initiatives contribute to the development of educational systems that are adaptable and responsive to the challenges of the 21st century. In November 2022, UNESCO celebrated the 30th anniversary of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN networks dedicated to the theme of “Transforming knowledge for just and sustainable futures” at its headquarters in Paris, bringing together a wide array of participants. At present, there are more than 1000 UNESCO Chairs and 50 UNITWIN networks.
In a recent activity organized by UNED UNESCO Chair in Distance Education (CUED) on September 26, Francesc Pedró, UNESCO IESALC Director reflected on “The contribution of UNESCO Chairs to the roadmap for the transformation of higher education”, already looking to 2050.
In this second UNED meeting of UNESCO Chairs, also organized by the CUED, we aim to establish a dialogue and closer link to some of the approximately 40 international UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN networks associated with open, distance, and digital Education worldwide. Some have roots going back to the last century, being aligned with the general aims of distance education and its evolution over time. Others, more recently, focus their activity on Open Education or the digital transformation of Education, including the integration of AI. At the same time, they all strongly share UNESCO's fundamental objectives of providing equitable, inclusive and high-quality Education for All throughout life.
Responsible for 16 UNESCO Chairs from Spain, Portugal, France, England, Andorra, South Africa, Lebanon, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay and Canada will attend the event. Francesc Pedró, Director of UNESCO IESALC, will also intervene.
This conference has been carried out with the funds allocated to the UNESCO Chair in Distance Education in the UNED Vicerrectorate of Internationalisation and Multilingüism Call for grants for strengthening internationalisation through international conferences 2023.
The conference, with free registration, will be held in a hybrid form in the morning, with face-to-face attendance in the Lorenzo García Aretio Assembly Hall of the Faculty of Education of the UNED, and online in the afternoon. It will also be broadcast openly on CanalUNED. Simultaneous translation will be provided throughout the event.