‘Sustainable project management’: online-based continuing education programmes at universities in Germany
‘Sustainable project management’ as online-based continuing education is an interesting option for gaining a qualification in a promising field while continuing to work. Many German universities offer continuing education programmes of this type.
Continuing education in project management is especially suitable for people switching from a different field. It is ideal for specialists with a background in economics, or experts in organisation who are taking over the management of a project. Now more and more degree courses and continuing education programmes are focusing on sustainable project management, because there is a clear tendency in Germany, and in other countries, of increasing expectations being placed on the social responsibility of organisations and companies. More and more frequently it is assumed that companies should ensure their conduct and manufacturing activities are environmentally sound, make business sense and are socially sustainable.
Sustainable project management as continuing education while working
Distance learning and online continuing education programmes can offer a route for obtaining an additional qualification in sustainable project management while continuing to work. Here is one example: the Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin (University of Applied Sciences) and RENAC (Renewables Academy AG) have expanded their continuing education programme in Renewable Energies and now offer an online course entitled ‘Project Management’. The modules are conducted in English and the students learn about financing and management as well as gaining specialist knowledge about the booming markets for renewable energies. The content is delivered through a combination of self-study, online lectures, virtual interactions and group work. Furthermore, the courses offer space for international networking and for sharing experiences with other students from a large number of countries. Successful participants receive a certificate from the Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin and RENAC.
A typical field of application for sustainable project management is in environmental projects. The University of Bremen, for instance, offers courses in this area. The ‘Environmental project management’ module involves a large proportion of self-study using e-learning units which are complemented with exercises, project tasks and supplementary workshops.
Online-based continuing education course ‘sustainable project management’ at the University of Kaiserslautern
The Distance and Independent Studies Center (DISC) at the University of Kaiserslautern is pursuing a similar path. In 2012 DISC offered its first online-based continuing education course on ‘Sustainable project management’ especially for DAAD alumni from Egypt and Tunisia. Two of its major aspects were monitoring and good governance. The 19 participants completing the programme from September to December 2012 covered methods and instruments for project planning and project organisation, project steering, control instruments, and monitoring of programmes and projects. The second part of the continuing education programme was dedicated to the topic of good governance. It examined ‘Structures of civil society regulations with a direct connection to the social transformation processes in Northern Africa’.
The special feature of this continuing education programme is what is called ‘blended learning’, i.e. the combination of self-study and teaching materials, an online tutorial and two events that all the participants have to attend in Cairo. Alexander Bruns, who heads the Management & Law department at DISC and manages the content of the continuing education programme, has only positive things to say about the course ‘Sustainable project management’ for the DAAD alumni. ‘The students really were able to complete the continuing education programme while continuing to work,’ he explains.
Evaluation of the continuing education programme
The target group for the ‘Sustainable project management’ programme was graduates from Egypt and Tunisia who already had some initial experience in project management or wanted to work in this field in the near future. The alumni worked through their course content independently and as a group. As Bruns points out, they ‘had intensive discussions – principally in chat rooms and forums.’ For example, even if they were not together in person all the time, the students are familiar with the various cultural differences in the way they work, and were able to boost their intercultural communication competencies. A range of tasks was completed by small groups and by individuals. A moderator was available online all the time, and at the two attendance sessions in Cairo.
The continuing education programme ‘Sustainable project management’ has been evaluated. The alumni scored it as ‘good’ on choice of the sections and the specimen scenarios for the relevant tasks. Their feedback also confirmed that the organisational schedule for the online sections was good. All the participants completed the course successfully and received a certificate from the University. The programme will be offered again in 2013. Alexander Bruns can recommend the programme without reservation to other universities as a distance course in combination with online support and the attendance sessions.
Contact person at DISC for the ‘Sustainable project management’ continuing education programme:
Alexander Bruns, scientific officer, distance learning
‘Sustainable development cooperation’
Tel.: +49 631 205-4924
Discussion on sustainable project management
Have you ever been on a continuing education programme on ‘sustainable project management’? What was your experience? And how do you manage working and family life while on such courses? What do you think would make an ideal continuing education programme that you could complete while still working? What do you think about online learning units? Join in the discussion with others in the comments below.