2008 HES2020Over 230 participants from 35 countries gathered online for the Virtual Higher Education Summit 2020 (HES2020) from 31 August to 2 September 2020. People from various communities interacted with each other to achieve a more systemic and effective understanding of how to enable transformative learning for sustainable development while also assuring quality at higher education institutions. We asked some of the conference organizers and speakers to reflect on the event and selected a few snippets – take a look at the video report! In addition, material and session recordings continue to be available to registered participants on the conference website.

HES2020 Visual Summary ZenseThe HES2020 in numbers: 


⭢ Download the Visual Summary (pdf, 23 MB; created by Yves Erne/zense.ch)
⭢ Watch the video report (9 min)


About the HES2020

The HES2020 addressed the question “How can we assure quality and transformative learning for sustainable development?” It was co-organised by the COPERNICUS Alliancesaguftd-net of the swiss academies, the University of Bern, and the University of Lausanne. 

What was the rationale for the conference topic? Transformative learning has gained importance in formal education in the recent past, with an interest that is now increasingly coming from higher education institutions, especially in relation to sustainable development. To date, however, little systematic knowledge and experiences exist on transformative learning at tertiary level, on what it implies for teaching and learning arrangements, on what challenges need to be met when developing courses and curricula, on the competences faculty staff need to have, on what structures are needed to support development of transformative learning and corresponding professional development at tertiary level, on what this implies for higher education institutions, educational policy, and quality assurance systems, on what active role students can play in fostering transformative learning for sustainable development, and on how this influences the relation between higher education institutions and society.

An additional, rarely addressed issue is that – while research on the different stakeholders involved in higher education policy and practice exists – there are very few opportunities for the relevant actors to enter into an exchange about the implications of integrating transformative learning and sustainable development into the higher education system. Rarely do the relevant communities talk to each other and reflect together on how the challenges can be jointly addressed. The HES2020 enabled participants from a number of different stakeholder and expert groups interested in transformation towards sustainable development to meet beyond their “natural borders” and to discuss both research and practice-related issues.


HES2020 – 9-minutes video report 
Virtual Higher Education Summit 2020