Two Associate Professors from the Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) Ramez G. Chagoury Faculty of Architecture, Arts, and Design (FAAD), Dr. Karen Boujaoude, Interim Dean, and Dr. Nadine Hindi, were selected to provide their expertise at the “Inception Workshop - Sustainable Affordable Housing,” at Bauhaus Universität-Weimar (BUW). Funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the workshop took place within the framework of the Goethe Institute’s Ta’ziz partnership for democracy, an endeavor seeking to assist in the advancement of culture and education within the MENA region. Having signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), NDU, being the main partner, was represented by Dr. Boujaoude and Dr. Hindi at the international meeting with associated partners from the MENA and EU.
The FAAD faculty presented their project, its title, “Sustainable Affordable Housing: SDGs as Conveyors of Competences for Democratic Culture,” encompassing a cluster of imperative didactic competences for democratic culture and sustainable development to be integrated into higher education curricula.
Dr. Boujaoude and Dr. Hindi’s presentation was successful in pushing the sustainability discussion forward, receiving positive feedback from the participating institutions and civil society stakeholders. The workshop’s overarching purpose was to rekindle public academic debates on urban planning, the focal point of which addresses urgent societal challenges, sustainable housing provision included. Instilling these competences is valuable in higher education as they not only give graduates an advantage in the job market, but also prepare them for active democratic citizenship and stimulate their personal development, aspects central to NDU’s mission statement.
In addition, the FAAD professors’ project reintroduced the bridge between academia and civil society organizations in reference to the urban development of Beirut: the constituents of a true competence-based curriculum in architecture and urban planning are meant to tackle the challenges of fostering a culture of democracy and socio-ecological responsibility. Their presentation at the workshop emphasized developing these characteristics in target groups, the involved higher education institutions behaving as actors with significant engagement in the broader society, all delivered with integrity and efficiency.
Moreover, Dr. Hindi seized the opportunity for an extended academic stay of an additional week, engaging in a seminar for a master’s course and other activities at BUW in light of its partnership with NDU.
With the pressing issue of sustainable housing, Dr. Boujaoude and Dr. Hindi’s international involvement in promoting tangible solutions, built upon rearing a culture of higher education dedicated to social and environmental responsibility, is nothing short of a commendable feat.