Online higher degree in Sustainable Development and inter-university research programme on SIDS issues
Status of initiative: On track
Description/achievement of initiative

The UCSIS, with the support of UNDESA and the Government of Spain developed an online Master of Science course on Sustainable Development which will be launched in 2014. The degree is targeted for students from UCSIS member universities and is supported by an IT platform developed for the universities under the project. Building on this success, the UCSIS will design a joint research programme to develop solutions to key development issues affecting Small Island States. The programme will involve universities within the UCSIS and the Caribbean Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are faced with an array of development challenges, both internal and external.

Implementation methodologies

Within UCSIS, some of the Universities already have bilateral cooperation agreements and work together on some issues on an ad hoc basis. Similarly, there are bilateral arrangements between some of the universities that will be part of the SDSN and UCSIS members. Such arrangements may involve joint research or exchange of staff and students. The UCSIS will support the convening of the members of the two groups to identify high priority issues that can be addressed effectively by the Partnership members working together and to develop a research programme. UCSIS will support the coordination and exchange of research information to address the high priority programmes areas. UCSIS has already developed the IT platform that can support the communication of research material and the courses developed from the research results. Where possible, such courses will be incorporated into the new Master's degree. The UCSIS is governed by a Board of Trustees and its Programme Committee oversees project implementation.

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

The UCSIS was able, with funding from the Spanish Government, made available through UNDESA, to build a robust internet-based platform to make course material available online for the purposes of teaching and training. This platform will continue to be used to provide more information and training materials to a wider audience and to allow for exchange of information as needed by Consortium researchers. This will result in training material and courses being offered online to the countries served by the Consortium Universities, such material will also be made available to the university members of the SDSN.

Coordination mechanisms/governance structure

The UCSIS is governed by a Board of Trustees and its Programme Committee oversees project implementation. The Programme Committee was successful in the development of the online degree programme and will oversee its implementation and the development and implementation of the research programme. The Consortium seeks to enhance the capacity of higher education institutions in small island states to provide practical, high quality training, research and outreach to build within SIDS, the capacity required to implement the BPOA. Key objectives of the Consortium are: 1. Improved information flow among Members on course offerings, facilities and student needs.2. Cooperative curriculum development, research, indigenous Knowledge management and outreach in the key areas of importance for SIDS to support resilience building.3. Research findings and reference material shared and enhanced cooperation on these among students and faculty. 4. The results of SIDS-focused research used to assemble curricula relevant to island development.The Institute for Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies is the current location of the International Secretariat for the UCSIS and will also be the host of the SDSN Caribbean Network, following its launch in May 2014. Since both networks will share an office for some of the time of the partnership, day to day communication and coordination will be facilitated by the UWI. During the time of the partnership the UCSIS secretariat will move to another member university. Once this takes place the two universities will share in the support and coordinating functions.


The University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, The University of Malta, The University of Mauritius, The University of Seychelles, The University of The South Pacific, The University of The Virgin Islands, and The University of The West Indies. Some University members of the Caribbean Sustainable Development Solutions Network (to be identified and confirmed)
1. Master in Sustainable Development degree programme available online to Consortium students; accredited to the USP and offered by UCSIS Universities to their students.
2. Research programme on key issues in Sustainable Development for SIDS designed and agreed to by UCSIS member universities.
3. First set of students graduate from Masters Programme
4. Research Programme starts implementation and solutions to SD issues made available to stakeholders.
Resources devoted to implementation
Staff / Technical expertise
Academics and lecturers from the 7 members of the consortium and the Universities which will join the SDSN to be launched in May 2014.
In-kind contribution
Hosting costs for the UCSIS International Secretariat & SDSN Caribbean and staff time provided by the University of the West Indies
Financing (in USD)
Progress reports
Cut off date each year: 1 July
This initiative fulfils the SMART criteria.
Date of completion: December 2020.
Operating in countries
Contact information/focal point(s)
David C. Smith, david.smith02@uwimona.edu.jm

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