UNESCO Chairs and Networks in Social and Human Sciences
This network of international academic partnerships has helped to identify the training and research needs of future decision-makers and has led to the creation of a wide range of new interdisciplinary degree courses, training, research and information activities focusing on complex issues such as human rights, democracy and peace, sustainable development, and social transformations.
The UNESCO Chairs with their typical range of activities, such as international symposia, short-term intensive training courses and outreach programmes geared to different stakeholder groups of society, have often managed to overcome traditional institutional barriers and to work towards better university integration, both in terms of inter-faculty cooperation and administration. In developing countries in particular, international exchanges and participation in the development of educational materials have helped to enrich the range of educational resources available.
The strategic value of networking has helped universities all over the globe to pool their resources, both human and material. Furthermore, universities have been tied to the priorities spelled out by the U.N. and especially UNESCO, through active participation in major U.N. ventures, such as the thematic world summits.
The UNESCO Chairs/UNITWIN networks help to overcome stumbling blocks and to encourage academic institutions to play their role fully in society. Host institutions of UNESCO Chairs/UNITWIN networks help in the democratic organization of society and by promoting recognition and respect for its diversity. Social scientists assume a dual role of observers/analysts and participants/citizens. The academic institution provides the tangible basis for the scientists to fulfil this role.
The objectives of the Chairs are
- To enhance social responsiveness of higher education institutions to their social environment.
- To disseminate knowledge and raise awareness on sustainable development at all levels of society, paying particular attention to the informational needs of decision-makers.
- To develop policy relevant, measurable indicators for evaluating the sustainability of development practice.
- To increase institutional capacity to devise policies for sustainable development by training policy makers and institutional actors/administrators.
- To foster participation of civil society groups in decision-making by advocacy training.
- To facilitate dialogue between social stakeholders.