There is growing recognition of the importance of integrating global experiences into traditional courses of study so that graduating students are equipped with “global competencies”. Large scientific undertakings in response to the complex, multi-disciplinary challenges of global poverty and sustainability will need to be met by individuals with an understanding of the broader international context, and familiarity with international settings and collaborations.

Traditionally, undertaking studies abroad is seen as path to acquisition of global competence and intercultural skills. However, such experiences are only available to a small fraction of university students. Online learning, social networking and virtual classrooms offer students the experience of working with peers in other countries without leaving their campus.

Beginning in 2014, UNESCO Office, Jakarta organized a series of e-learning programmes under the heading of MasterClass, with the aim of promoting science knowledge through ICTs and blended learning to a network of universities in Asia and the Pacific region. UNESCO has organized MasterClasses on a diverse range of topics including water management, mathematics, biosphere reserves, science and technology policy and renewable energy.

In this fifth phase of the COMPETENCE project, focus is placed on delivering e-learning MasterClass programmes on subject from the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), Disaster Risk Reduction, the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and Sustainability Science through UNESCO’s network of partner universities and institutions in Asia and the Pacific region, namely Collaboration for Network-eNabled Education, Culture, Technology and Science (CONNECT-Asia).