Paquita Perez Salgado new UNESCO Chair holder at Open University

The UNESCO Chair in Knowledge Transfer for Sustainable Development Supported by ICTs at the Open University – one of the five current UNESCO Chairs in the Netherlands – has recently been extended by UNESCO for four years. The new chair holder is Professor Paquita Perez Salgado who succeeds Professor Rietje Van Dam-Mieras who held the position since 2009.

In the upcoming four years the team of Perez Salgado will investigate, among other, how and why people do or do not act environmentally friendly. Indeed, there appear to be large regional, social and cultural differences. For example, how come that the introduction of wind turbines in Denmark was very successful, while virtually every wind turbine leads to protest in the Netherlands?

Professor Paquita Perez Salgado.

Sustainable development, knowledge concepts and (open) learning processes

The chair holder will study and further develop knowledge concepts for sustainable development in an international context. A promising knowledge concept is ‘Lived Experience’, which assumes that culture, race, gender and social class of people have an impact on the way they deal with things. One of its hypotheses is that one might establish more involvement and thus more effective change processes, by referring to the specific experiences of individuals and groups. As government policies often do not take this into account, they lack effectiveness.

The UNESCO chair will focus on how intervention processes may lead to effective and sustainable change as well as on the corresponding learning processes.

Finally, the Chair holder will study the development and deployment of modern ICT tools and open learning concepts in higher education programmes and analyze how these resources can improve learning processes. 

Objectives of the Chair

Sustainable development is linked to a process of global social change. To contribute to this process, the chair will conduct a targeted research along the following lines:

  • Developing competencies and skills, particularly ‘intervention skills’ may allow for better application of scientific knowledge for societal change processes;
  • Further investigating and developing the knowledge concept of 'Lived Experience'. This concept emphasizes diversity, for example in terms of culture, race, gender and social class, and is partly based on experiential and contextual knowledge;
  • Focussing thematically on climate change and ‘social entrepreneurship’ (sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship), not excluding expansion to other areas;
  • Emphasis will be placed on a multi- and transdisciplinary approach in finding solutions to issues concerning sustainable development. UNESCO's priorities Africa and gender equality are part of the development of research and training activities.

Chair holder

Chair holder is Professor Paquita Perez Salgado (1962). From 2001 to 2013 Perez Salgado was Dean of the Faculty of Sciences of the Open University of the Netherlands. In that capacity, she was responsible for the education and research programmes in environmental sciences. Before that, she worked at the Dutch expert organisation on girls & women and science & technology (VHTO). She also worked at the University of Amsterdam (where she got her PhD degree in physical chemistry), the University of Groningen and the University of Twente. She was and is active in several European and international organizations in the field of science and higher education. The UNESCO Chair is part of the Faculty of Management, Science and Technology of the Open University.

Mobility and Knowledge

UNESCO sees the exchange of knowledge and experience between universities and higher education institutions as crucial factors for development within its areas of operation. Through the UNITWIN / UNESCO Chairs Programme, the institution promotes academic mobility and rapid knowledge transfer between institutions globally. The chair holder cooperates worldwide with various universities and professional and societal organizations.

Het UNESCO Chairs en UNITWIN Programma bevordert internationale wetenschappelijke samenwerking op belangrijke UNESCO’s thema’s als onderwijs, cultuur, en duurzame ontwikkeling. Het programma is opgericht in 1992 en faciliteert onder meer Noord-Zuid samenwerking om de ‘knowledge gap’ tussen het mondiale Noorden en Zuiden te dichten.


Het ‘UNESCO Chair’-programma bestaat sinds 1992. Er zijn 667 UNESCO leerstoelen en 45 UNITWIN netwerken in 115 verschillende landen (stand 2017).

Nederland kent 6 UNESCO-leerstoelen, die de thema’s onderwijs, ICT, duurzaamheid, mensenrechten, armoede en ‘governance’ raken en verbinden.

In een serie gastcolleges presenteren de Nederlandse UNESCO leerstoelhouders hun werkterrein en onderzoek. Deze online UNESCO Masterclasses zijn beschikbaar via youtube.

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