Course: Sustainable cities & communities

The course was developed to train tutors and students to address wicked problems related to the same name SDG11, focusing mainly on Urbanistic & Food Security issues that affect communities at risk in Brazil. For that, two communities were selected, Vila das Torres in Curitiba, capital of the State of Paraná and Foz do Chopim in a rural area of the same State. The proximity to real problems and demands was achieved through a series of interviews that were carefully prepared and translated. Interviews and descriptions of similar situations in the other participating countries were also presented. The course had the participation of Graduate (Master and PHd students)  and Undergraduate students from three Universities, the UTFPR in Brazil, Uppsala University Campus Gotland and the UTH of Honduras. The Brazilian case studies served as a basis for local and foreign students to interact by comparing it with their experiences in their own countries and contribute to propose solutions according to their professional expertise, creating a multidisciplinary collaborative environment.

Moodle was utilized as a main course platform on which all weekly activities were carefully prepared and collaborative tools, methods and exercises were proposed. Students were divided into complementary projects and have to be prepared in a manner that the communities can easily understand and give feedback on the proposed ideas/projects presented. Over the course of five weeks students participated in synchronous and asynchronous activities that increased their understanding of Wicked Problems relating to Sustainable Development. After the course’s completion a large majority of students confirmed that they considered the experience of working in heterogenous and international groups very important and stimulating (95%), affirmed that they acquired abilities regarding complex problem solving (97%), and considered the experience of getting to know and listening to the problems related to ODS11 as experienced by a real community moving, an eye opener and stimulating (100%).

Keywords: SDGs, Communities, ESD, Social Transformation, Sustainable Urban development, Social Housing, Food Security, Rural development, Tourism, Sustainability

Specific learning goals

  • Develop Active listening abilities
  • Critical understanding/interpretation of real complex demands 
  • Learning to work in heterogeneous/ multidisciplinary/ international teams
  • Empathy and awareness about the reality and needs of communities at risk
  • Develop creativity and and prepare to embrace complex tasks
  •  Deeper approach to complex thinking and problem solving
  • Be trained in using virtual collaborative platforms & tools
  • Improve the capacity of developing a complex online course and coordinate activities
  • Develop foreign language skills

Course schedule

Students were divided into five working subgroups, where each group  met at least once a week for a minimum of 2 hours with their Tutors and as many times as wanted/needed with colleagues.

In total 5 weeks (+ 2 optional weeks)

16.05.2022 (2 hours) 

23.05.2022 (2 hours) 

30.05.2022 (2 hours) 

06.06.2022 (2 hours)

13.06.2022 (2 hours)

How Virtual Exchange is helping tackle Wicked Problems – UTFPR

“This is ultimately a community school project teaching food security and values to children in deprived areas. The school has made incredible strides in penetrating a difficult community and transmitting government recommendations to the people and in creating a safe...
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