Shepherd Urenje

Short presentation

Shepherd Urenje works as a Programme Specialist in ESD. His research expertise includes learning for change, developing sustainability competencies and understanding links in environment, health and sustainability. He now facilitates ESD Courses in the Baltic Sea Region and Campus Gotland ESD Learning Lab. He also coordinates the global Partner Network of UNESCO GAP on ESD Action Area 3 Building Capacities of Educators and Trainers and Capacity Development for Agenda 2030 in Zambia and Zimbabwe.


  • co-creation of knowledge
  • complexity and wicked problems
  • education for sustainable development
  • environmental health
  • one health
  • social transformation
  • sustainability
  • transdisciplinary research
  • transformative learning


Center for research and education on learning for sustainable development and global health (SWEDESD) at Uppsala University: International Experience in Research and Capacity Development

I have accumulated extensive experience in implementing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) working with international partners since 2010. Since then SWEDESD has gained substantial know-how in supporting universities and government ministries in integrating sustainable development into the university curriculum. Dr Shepherd Urenje, who will be the programme director in this programme, has been the programme specialist in charge of mainstreaming Education for Sustainable Development with partner universities in Africa, Asia and Europe since 2010. For over 10 years Dr Shepherd Urenje has been leading SWEDESD’s creativity and innovation strategy called the Change Project Approach, which has been highly successful in Southern Africa, Central Asia and the Baltic Sea Region.

In order to create desired change processes, I have developed and tried out teaching materials and classroom examples; developed and tried out strategies for dialogue on institutional levels with university education leaders, ministry of education leaders and policy education designers; and developed and tried out ESD capacity development workshops and course development programmes.

Education for Strong Sustainability and Agency (ESSA) Project 2012 - 2014

Between 2012 and 2014 I was the director and worked in a collaborative university partnership with six universities from South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This partnership conducted a series of capacity development activities with 42 teacher education institutions from 14 countries in southern Africa through which partner institutions have developed strategies of integrating ESD in teacher education.

The UNESCO Flagship Project 2015 -2018

Between 2015 and 2019, I partnered with UNESCO Paris in a Flagship project called “Sustainability Starts With Teachers”, Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development” funded by the Government of Japan. This project focused on supporting university teachers in the regions of southern Africa and Central Asia to integrate sustainable development priorities and goals into their university programmes.

In Southern Africa I worked in partnership with UNESCO, the Southern African Universities Association (SARUA), Rhodes University and SWEDESD, to support 60 teacher education institutions from 9 countries between 2015 and 2018 with Shepherd Urenje as the Swedish expert. In Central Asia, I worked in partnership with UNESCO and Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) to support 20 teacher education institutions from 4 countries with Shepherd Urenje as the Swedish expert. This programme has been pilot tested with 60 University Institutions in Southern African countries in 2017 and has since been expanded to cover the whole of the Southern African Development Community.

The Baltic University programme 2016- 2022

From 2016 to the present, I have been the co-director working in partnership with the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Åbo Akademi University, Finland in an ESD course for universities in the Baltic Sea Region. This project offers an annual ESD course for university teachers and lecturers working at universities in nine Baltic Sea countries. Currently, there are Change projects in 8 countries of the Baltic Sea Region.


2010 – 2012: Directed the development and implementation of new methods/approaches for teacher capacity development in collaboration with Belvedere Teachers College (Iris Chimbodza and Fanuel Manyinyire) in Zimbabwe, and the University of Zambia Timothy Phiri and Lilian Chipatu).

2012 – 2014: Principal Investigator - research collaboration with University of Cape Town (Andrew Petersen) Mauritius Inastute of Education (Anwar Rumjaun), Belvedere Teachers College (Iris Chimbodza) and University of Botswana (Ntaveli Silo)

2015 – 2017: Global coordinator – UNESCO Global Action Programme, on increasing the capacities of teachers, educators and trainers to mainstream Education for Sustainable Development in teacher education.

2017 - Co-investigator and facilitator working with Rhodes University, (Heila Lotz-Sistka) in capacity development in teacher education institutions in Southern Africa funded by UNESCO.

2018 Managing ESD Learning Laboratory at Campus Gotland - experimenting with different ways of reorienting university education

2017 – 2020: Lead facilitator in collaboration with Åbo Akademi (Cecilia Lundberg and Sinikka Suomalainen), Finland, Baltic States University Programme,


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Shepherd Urenje