Are universities in Cyprus doing enough to address the Sustainable Development Goals?

~August 2023
In the 2023 edition of the annual ‘Sustainable Development Report’ published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 166 countries were reviewed in terms of their progress with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to this report, the performance of Cyprus has been on an “abysmally downward spiral”. In 2020, Cyprus was ranked 34th, it then slipped to 40th position in 2021, and 43rd in 2022. This year it is down to 59th position and is ranked last among the European Union countries.

For the SDGs, the contribution of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is critical through education, research and outreach activities. Ideally, HEIs are responsible for promoting and fostering awareness, skills, and competencies for future professionals to respond in diverse ways to the challenges of sustainable development across different disciplines and contexts. However, the 2023 Times Higher Education ‘Impact Rankings’ for individual SDGs lists only the following three HEIs from Cyprus: Frederick University (Ranked 201-300), University of Nicosia (Ranked 301-400) and the European University of Cyprus (Ranked 601-800).

Considering the low ranking of Cyprus in advancing the SDGs, the critical role of its HEIs in supporting them and the fact that only three private HEIs out of a total of nine (three public, six private) are included in the ‘Impact Rankings’, it is both appropriate and timely to explore the reasons for this “downward spiral”.

We invite academics working in the Higher Education sector in Cyprus to complete 14 brief answers to a questionnaire on implementing the SDGs in Higher Education in Cyprus. The link is

Learning Toolkit for sustainable assessment through digital technologies - DigComp Edu framework

~February 2022
This learning toolkit is divided into three sections corresponding with a) assessment strategies, b) analysing evidence, and c) feedback and planning. Each section draws from the learning activities for educators provided by the European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators - DigCompEdu framework. The learning activities for each section provide the blueprint for the learning scenarios developed and presented in this toolkit. In addition, the learning scenarios include suggestions on how to promote sustainability in assessment. Through this toolkit, educators can adopt a scaffolding approach in developing their digital assessment skills and move from the level of ‘Newcomer’ to that of a ‘Pioneer’.

The toolkit is available in pdf format:

CALL FOR PAPERS - TRACK THEME: Design for Policy and Governance: New Technologies, New Methodologies

~October 2021 - Design Research Society
• CONFERENCE: DRS2022 BILBAO, 25th June – 3rd July
• FORMAT: Hybrid
• DUE DATE: Submissions due 24th November 2021

• Scott Schmidt, School of Continuing Studies, Georgetown University, USA (Convener)
• Dr. Michael Howlett, Burnaby Mountain Professor and Canada Research Chair, Simon Fraser University, Canada
• Dr. Marzia Mortati, Department of Design, Politecnico Milano, Italy
• Louise Mullaugh, ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University, UK
• Dr. Nicos Souleles, Art+Design: elearning lab, DISCERN International Journal of Design for Social Change, Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus

• Scott Schmidt, School of Continuing Studies, Georgetown University, USA (Convener)

As the official track of the DRS Design for Policy and Governance Special Interest Group (PoGoSIG), we will aim to critically explore and define the relationship between policy and design. Presently, the topic is very much open for debate as to how these two concepts differ, relate, and interact with one another. There exists very little agreement on their relational trajectory with one course, policy design, originating in the policy studies tradition while the other, design for policy, being founded in design studies. The former sees the need for policy to instrumentally embody a conscious design of its own making while the later holds that design is a pre-existing field of study unto itself that can be employed in accordance with policy formation.

Launch of the CREATION elearning platform to train the trainer in culture and arts entrepreneurship for marginalised adult women

~July 2021 - CREATION is a European-wide consortium comprising partners from Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Ireland and Germany (

The aim of this Erasmus+ project is to provide practical training in cultural entrepreneurship for under-represented groups, and specifically women from marginalised backgrounds.

The project aims to foster more opportunities for marginalised women to engage with cultural entrepreneurship, broaden their professional opportunities, create better prospects for independent work and promote integration into their host communities (

An essential component of the CREATION project is an online training package (train-the-trainer) comprising three different modules, aimed at support workers and all those who work with groups of marginalised women. The three online training modules are:

1) The cultural and creative industries as a viable economic force – types and characteristics of cultural enterprises,
2) Using participatory, community-based co-working learning resources and self-directed learning resources to build basic entrepreneurial skills, and
3) The changing role of educators within diverse communities of online learners.

These modules are accompanied by a course manual in pdf format, to assist those trained with the content and the instructional approach of the elearning platform (

In response to a recent call for interested stakeholders to engage with the elearning platform, the CREATION team received over 150 requests to register for the online training. Upon completion of the training, participants will receive a certification in the form of an Open Badge.

As of 1st July 2021, the elearning platform is open for all to explore at

First university research lab from Cyprus to be admitted to the DESIS Network

~May 2021 - The Art+Design: elearning lab – Design for social change ( may be the smallest lab in the Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts at Cyprus University of Technology (CUT), but it punches above its weight in international collaboration. As of May 2021, the lab has been admitted to the DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability) Network as the first DESIS Network lab from Cyprus ( This Network comprises a worldwide group of 59 labs from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America that engage with the broad area of social design, sustainability, and innovation.

DESIS was founded in 2009 by Professor Ezio Manzini, a world-renowned Italian design academic who has authored extensively in the area and travels the world promoting these objectives. The Art+Design: elearning lab – Design for social change was established in 2011, focusing originally on technology-enhanced learning and design education. Since 2016, and with the addition of researchers from Portugal, England, Greece and Australia, the lab has developed an active interest in design for social change.

In the last few years, lab members have published extensively in social design education, social entrepreneurship and innovation. In 2017, the lab introduced the only multidisciplinary and cross-departmental undergraduate unit of studies at CUT and the first of its kind in Cyprus. In this unit of studies, learners from different disciplines (Faculty of Management and Economics and the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts) work collaboratively and apply design thinking over one semester to address social challenges at a local level (
). These learners acquire several life-long competencies to deal with complex challenges.

Last year, the lab established the first at Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) and the first in Cyprus open access peer-reviewed academic journal with an international editorial team, titled DISCERN, International Journal of Design for Social Change, Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship ( All these activities have been complemented with participation in Erasmus+ funded projects with an explicit focus on social design and ongoing collaborations with Hub Nicosia – a social innovation space and incubator for social enterprises (

The co-ordinators of the lab, Dr Nicos Souleles and Dr Andrew Laghos, said: “We hope that membership of the DESIS Network will inspire other research labs and educational institutions in a country where design for social change is underdeveloped both in practice and in higher education to apply for DESIS membership”.

The demanding process for admission to the DESIS Network started in 2016 when the Art+Design: elearning lab started focusing on activities and outputs towards design for social change. At the start of 2021, a formal application was made to join the Network, and this was assessed by the DESIS International Coordination Committee.

Membership of DESIS will open up opportunities for social design collaborations with the other members of the Network, including synergies to connect diverse local social innovation cases into larger regional projects. Inevitably, this will also enhance the learning experiences of students at Cyprus University of Technology who undertake the unit ‘Design for Social Change, Innovation and Entrepreneurship’. More info at:

Entrepreneurship toolkit for adult educators and migrant support workers

~January 2021 - This toolkit provides a collection of embedded-learning and design-based learning activities and resources. It is based on a pedagogical framework informed by the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (EntreComp) for entrepreneurship education and developed specifically by the Creation team. CREATION (Cultural and Arts Entrepreneurship in Adult Education - is a European Union-funded project under Erasmus+ that aims to explore the theoretical roots, pedagogical approaches and practical training in cultural entrepreneurship, specifically targeting underrepresented groups, i.e. women from marginalised backgrounds. The intention is for educators and migrant workers to use this toolkit to teach basic cultural entrepreneurial skills and competences to marginalised adult women. The toolkit is divided into three thematic units: Museums, Design and Arts and Crafts. More info at:

Inaugural issue of ‘DISCERN, International Journal of Design for Social Change, Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship’

~November 2020 - For this first issue, the Editorial team did not seek to focus on a special theme but instead sought contributions from a broad spectrum of interests encompassed in social design, an area that is multi-disciplinary and multi-faceted. The eight articles in this issue represent this width of interests coming from cross-sectoral authors, including postgraduate students. More info at:

Fashion Revolution Cyprus - Presentation on 16/10/2020 for MGA495 Design for Social Change studentsp

~October 2020 - Fashion Revolution is a global movement in 80 countries. We have created a worldwide platform which we can all use to ask questions, raise standards and set an industry-wide example of what better looks like. We don’t know the true cost of the things we buy. The fashion industry supply chain is fractured and producers have become faceless. This is costing lives. All over the world, people are suffering and our environment is at risk as a result of our fashion supply chain. On Fashion Revolution Day, 24 April, brands and retailers will be challenged to take responsibility for the individuals and communities on which their business depends. By taking a selfie with the label showing (wear an item of clothing inside out for added impact) posting it on social media and asking the brand Who Made My Clothes? You can show support for greater transparency throughout the fashion supply chain. The more people who ask #whomademyclothes, the more brands will listen. More info at:

MGA495 Design for Social Change, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

~September 2020 - ‘MGA495 Design for Social Change, Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ is a final year course taught at Cyprus University of Technology in the Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts, for one semester. The course aims to communicate to students the basic theoretical and practical aspects of social design, innovation and entrepreneurship through a learning framework of interdisciplinary group work and cooperative learning. It covers the main points of social design, innovation and entrepreneurship, and the basic methodologies and practices that inform them. The students work in small interdisciplinary teams to tackle and solve real-world, small-scale social challenges that relate directly to their local environment. They apply design thinking to develop solutions, and where appropriate they use crowdfunding to support the initiatives of their respective groups. To foster innovative teaching approaches, collaborative learning, and to promote creative thinking to solve social challenges, the innovative use of information and communication technologies is embedded in teaching and learning. Through group work, the students build their learning in a way that benefits their personal development and academic interests while they develop life-long learning skills in social design.

You can view the student projects at

Open call for academic articles for the inaugural online issue of ‘DISCERN, International Journal of Design for Social Change, Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship’

~May 2020 - DISCERN is inviting researchers, academics, professionals, practitioners and postgraduate students to submit original articles in the broad areas of design for social change, sustainable innovation, social entrepreneurship, and the circular economy. We welcome articles (conceptual, theoretical, and empirical), review pieces, case studies, short reports, works in progress, book and literature reviews and discussion articles and dialogues.

It is envisaged that the inaugural issue of DISCERN will be published online in September 2020 as an open-access resource. The deadline for submissions is the end of July 2020. All submissions will be blind peer-reviewed by members of the journal’s Advisory Board and will be approved without revisions, approved with revisions or not accepted for publication.

More information about the journal, the author guidelines and the submission process is available online at

Join us in a movement to make a difference.  


Nicos Souleles
Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus

Ana Margarida Ferreira
IADE-Universidade Europeia Portugal

More info at

From face-to-face to online: Assessing the effectiveness of the rapid transition in Higher Education due to the coronavirus outbreak

~April 2020 - The coronavirus outbreak compelled Higher Education (HE) institutions worldwide to cancel campus-based teaching and conduct a variety of lessons remotely. This transition was implemented in a short period because it was deemed necessary to maintain continuity of teaching and learning provision.

Even in ordinary times, i.e. in periods that do not necessitate a hurried implementation of remote learning, several challenges are associated with this form of education. These multi-faceted challenges include the robustness of the technical infrastructure, pedagogical and instructional aspects and issues of access, support, and training.

With the exception of a few specialist HE institutions that have a history of online delivery, such as the different Open Universities, many institutions that made the transition were predominantly offering face-to-face teaching before the coronavirus outbreak.

Consequently, it is appropriate to consider whether the rapid transition from traditional modes of teaching and learning to online delivery has been effective or not. The ‘Art + Design: elearning lab’ (Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts, Cyprus University of Technology) has therefore put together an online questionnaire to investigate the experiences and opinions of academic staff and evaluate the transition process.

Please contribute to the online questionnaire at

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

~January 2020 - To help people better understand animal agriculture and its impact on the environment, we will be screening the film “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” on Friday, January 31st. The film will be shown at Cyprus University of Technology, Tassos Papadopoulos building at 19:15. This is a collaboration with the group ' Let's Make Cyprus Green' (

Social Enterprise Training Needs Questionnaire

~January 2020 - The Third Way (T3W) is a project that requires universities with a focus on vocational education and business development to work with the social business sector to develop a curriculum for business undergraduates in partnership with the Third Sector. The project has the primary aim to create innovative and accessible learning programmes that support understanding and awareness of social enterprise. The curriculum devised will be available in digital form such as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) or through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) via a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as well as delivered as innovative Face-to-face programmes of study. The information obtained from this survey will hope to define the curriculum that is to be produced in this project.

Social Enterprises and their Ecosystems – Country Report Cyprus

~October 2019 - This report is part of the study “Social enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe” and it provides an overview of the social enterprise landscape in Cyprus based on available information as of October 2019. It describes the roots and drivers of social enterprises in the country as well as their conceptual, fiscal and legal framework. It includes an estimate of the number of organisations and outlines the ecosystem as well as some perspectives for the future of social enterprises in the country.

This publication is an outcome of an assignment financed entirely by the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation "EaSI" (2014-2020). Our lab collaborated in the writing of this report. For further information please consult: EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) Recommended citation: European Commission (2019) Social enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe. Updated country report: Cyprus. Author: George Isaias. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Available at!Qq64ny

Museum Affinity Spaces (MAS): Museum-School Partnerships for the 21st century through a Multiliteracies Lens

~October 2018 - The MAS project promotes museum-school collaboration in Europe through the use of technology-enhanced learning such as support, tools and services for schools to utilize in order to implement their curriculum. MAS supports communities of teachers and educators seeking to establish museum-school partnerships as network communities by creating an online infrastructure.

The intention is to offer opportunities for free and continuing online professional development for educators and museum staff. In particular, the intention is for school-teachers and museum educators and other museum staff as well students to be able to use a virtual platform themselves and in collaboration with other parties from around Cyprus and the world, either through synchronous or asynchronous learning to develop learning activities deriving from museums.

There is specific focus on the development of the MAS project to accommodate for culturally and linguistically diverse students’ needs through the development of a particular innovative conceptual framework that will be implemented during all phases of the research. It is anticipated that students will deepen their knowledge of cultural heritage through participation in the partnership, while also become motivated to engage in museum learning, whether physically or online in the future. The project is funded by the Cyprus Research Foundation. Responsible for this project is Dr. Stefania Savva as Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, and the rest of the team comprises of Dr. Nicos Souleles, Francesca Sella and Zoe Anastasiadou.