Ensuring the sustainability of the achieved results
The RUCAS project has developed a 10-step approach to help university teaching staff and other stakeholders to sustain curriculum revision changes:
Leading the process
Leading the process is the key strategy for sustaining the changes that resulted from a curriculum revision towards sustainability. It is important that the leader who initiated the change leads the process until the change has been firmly established and takes all measures needed to sustain and even promote the achieved results.
As pointed in the previous module, engaging stakeholders helps considerably produce appropriate outcomes and at the same time increases potential for effective sustainability of the what has been achieved. A lack of engagement may be detrimental to the sustainability of the change or innovation. The importance of communication and cooperation among key stakeholders should be recognised and carefully considered.
Leadership in its wider perspective includes all contributors of an innovation. Staff participation and ownership of change are important if curriculum revisions are to succeed. Distributed leadership that enhances the decision-making process may generate a considerable amount of ownership and cohesiveness among the participants in an innovative curriculum revision with good returns in terms of quality and long-lasting of achieved changes.
Investing on capacity-building
As pointed in a previous module, capacity is one of the key conditions for successful implementation of curriculum reforms. Investing on university staff capacities to infuse sustainability in their courses is one of the most critical factors in sustaining and promoting the achieved results.
Managing resources appropriately
Managing resources effectively should be carefully considered, especially in times of scarcity of resources. Developing the appropriate infrastructure is a decisive factor to resource management. Frequently, lack of consideration in managing resources, both human and material, coupled with overestimation of the available resources ends up with frustration and poor sustainability of the changes achieved.
Establishing incentives and rewards
Incentives and rewards are one of the main factors that can contribute to the sustainability of a curriculum revision program. The RUCAS project established rewards such as certification to those attending capacity building workshops, involved in course curriculum revision and implementation, and to those developed innovative works. It is generally assumed that curriculum changes can be better sustained through a rewarding system. Incentives and rewards are usually considered at the individual level, but can also be applied at the institutional level. Depending on the context, it is of particular importance to identify what kind of incentives are more suitable to sustain changes in the long-term.
Maintaining flexibility and adaptability
Designing and maintaining curriculum revision changes requires the ability to adapt to changes achieved by maintaining flexibility and adaptability throughout the process as change itself is dynamic in nature.
Establishing internal/external assessment
Broadly defined, internal control is a process that encompasses all activities that aim to ensure quality. The RUCAS project has established internal assessment through peer-reviewing and external assessment carried out through various means, such as experts, publications in conference proceedings, collective volumes and international journals that go through a strict assessment process and participation in contests.
Networking with external professional bodies
Networking with external professional bodies can be a decisive factor in sustaining changes. This includes participation in professional societies and networks that are promoting the greening of universities and the path towards building sustainable universities. Networking with other institutions and professional bodies has repeatedly shown to be an effective means in the sustainability of achieved changes in a program.
Institutionalisation refers to the processes and practices applied to maintaining changes achieved. The scope, pace and nature of institutionalisation taking place in a given context or programme is shaped largely by various factors, human and material. In the RUCAS case, institutionalisation of changes emanated through the curriculum revision process are based on building the appropriate infrastructure (e.g. the establishment of Virtual Training Centres); capacity building of staff; strengthening inter-faculty cooperation; providing rewards and recognition, etc.