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Community added value and contribution to EC policies

 
 
Dunes and Europe
The Community added value of the DUNES project resides in its very definition: The development and large-scale implementation, testing and validation of a methodology and tools that will bring far-reaching changes in the way people - and especially the European youth - learn, interact and acquire useful skills. These favorable changes are fully consistent with all relevant EC policies.

The "White Paper on Education and Training", of 1995, is one of the most comprehensive documents addressing the official EU's approach to learning and associated policies. Throughout its 70 pages, we can hardly find a paragraph in which DUNES project's philosophy and objectives cannot be unmistakably identified; just two citations may more than demonstrate our case. In page 5, when analyzing the impact on modern society and economy of the IT revolution, the scientific and technological advances and the internationalization of the economy, we find that: "The construction of [the learning] society will depend on the ability to respond in two important ways to the implications of these events. The first focuses on the need for a broad knowledge base and the second is designed to build up abilities for employment and economic life"...Then, in page 10, this "broad knowledge base" is further examined: "...The development of a broad knowledge base, namely <u>the ability to grasp the meaning of things, to comprehend and to make judgements</u>, is the first factor in adapting to economic and labor market change. The report from the Round Table of European Industrialists (February 1995) stressed the need for flexible training with a broad knowledge base, advocating <u>a "learning to learn" approach</u> throughout life. It stated that 'the essential mission of education is to help everyone to develop their own potential and <u>become a complete human being</u> [...]; the acquisition of knowledge and skills should go hand in hand with <u>building up character, broadening outlook and accepting one's responsibility in society</u>'. [Underlining is ours.]

These citations do not only prove the intimate consistency of DUNES with the EC policies in education; these citations are DUNES. The acquisition of a "broad knowledge base" will be the most important result of the application of the methodology of DUNES. This is the broad knowledge that discussion and argumentation can generate, in the framework of a dynamically interacting group of participants trying to convince, negotiate, reach consensus. These broad knowledge and skills include also that very special component, the soft skills (building up character, broadening outlook, accepting one's responsibility in society; fostering team work, effective and creative thinking, etc.), so important for today's worker and citizen. DUNES involves arguing, challenging, raising opinions to lead individuals to be more aware about their opinions as they are confronted with other opinions in their society. Such awareness induces a higher responsibility of the individual in society. These knowledge and skills will arise from the implementation of DUNES in all its projected scenarios: in schools and other formal education frameworks, professional learning and training, negotiating and decision-making in business environments.

Similarly, the expected outcomes of DUNES perfectly match all the guidelines and emphases of more recent EC policy-setting documents, like "The Memorandum on Lifelong learning", of November 2000, or "eEurope 2002 - Impact and Priorities", of March 2001 (which, to a large extent, endorse the viewpoints of the "White Paper"). A few citations: "[Europe should aim] to achieve higher overall levels of education and qualification in all sectors, to ensure high-quality provision of education and training, and at the same time to ensure that people's knowledge and skills match the changing demands of jobs and occupations, workplace organization and working methods" (Memorandum, p. 4-5); "New technologies require a learning process before they are well used. [...] Investment in digital technologies will only show its full potential for efficiency gains if the institutions, concepts and operating practices of the old economy are adapted to make full use of these possibilities." (eEurope, p.10). The broad initiative behind these and other policy documents considers as an important "emerging need" to know more "on the way individual citizens learn in formal and non-formal settings[...]. Skills can be acquired in several ways and it is essential to monitor skill acquisition [...]. We need to be able to assess the societal outcomes of learning..." (Memorandum, p. 32). DUNES will significantly contribute to the fulfillment of these and other needs associated with learning for the European youth in the digital age. It is not a coincidence that eLearning and eWorking skills are dealt with together, under the same item 3.3 in the mentioned "eEurope 2002" document; both skills are strongly interconnected and jointly condition the emergence of a whole generation of eLiterated Europeans. DUNES fully shares this approach.

Besides its direct contribution as a learning tool, DUNES has clear implications for the unfolding of a healthy discussion culture, and favors a widespread dissemination of pluralism and tolerance principles. All these elements confer the project a remarkable European dimension.

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