Equity Through Open Educational Resources: Open Education Network Welcomes OSUN

Published on October 18th, 2023

Estimated reading time for this article: 3 minutes.

The Open Education Network (OEN) is pleased to welcome Open Society University Network (OSUN) to the community. 

OSUN was cofounded by the Central European University and Bard College, with the support of the Open Society Foundations. They collaborate with a range of higher education and research institutions and think tanks around the world. Together they address worldwide civic and academic issues related to democratic practice, sustainability, inequality, and human rights.
Map of OSUN institution locations
OSUN higher education institutions are located in 19 countries throughout the world.

Equitable Learning

Last year OSUN’s 45 member institutions enrolled nearly 4,000 students in courses and 160 students in certificate programs.

Meggan Houlihan, Director of the OSUN Library Resources Program, focuses on providing students access to assigned readings, research sources, and reference assistance. She is also part of the OSUN OER Working Group which met in Budapest this summer to set objectives for developing OER policy in 2024.

“When we talk about the equitable classroom experience,” said Houlihan, “that includes access to course materials. If we can’t get students the materials they need, then it’s not an equitable learning experience. This is why OER is so important to OSUN.” 

Culturally Relevant

Open educational resources play a key role in OSUN’s goal to develop syllabi and courses that rely on open materials. In addition, adapting OER makes it possible to reflect the various cultures of OSUN members, so faculty and students are more likely to feel “seen” in their course materials. Houlihan said she’s hoping a few OER champions will take the lead within OSUN, which in turn, will allow her to spotlight their work and inspire others to create and advocate OER.

Barb Thees, OEN’s Director of Community Engagement, looks forward to supporting OSUN’s work providing students with equitable access to culturally relevant OER.

“The OEN community’s guiding principles are a natural complement to OSUN’s ethos, spirit of collaboration, and equity focus,” says Thees. “We’re confident that our programs, and most importantly, the expertise and support of our community members, will serve OSUN well as they grow open education initiatives. We’re excited about the opportunity to learn from them as we move forward together.”

OSUN OER Working Group
The OSUN OER Working Group includes librarians from Bard College, Brac University, Central European University, and the American University in Beirut.

Common Threads

OSUN and the OEN have several core principles in common, including prioritizing new pathways for underserved communities and collaborating to remove educational barriers. These common threads, including a shared affinity for collaboration, are factors that led OSUN to join the OEN.

Houlihan points out, “At OSUN it’s not top-down; it’s a collaboration. We look to all of the institutions for their knowledge, their strength, and their experience to develop the network. It’s our goal to get people to talk to each other, and we want to collaborate with people who have the same values as us. That’s why we’re here.” 

Better Together

To move open education forward for OSUN, Houlihan anticipates the need for training and communication, and said she believes the OEN is well suited to help meet that need. Eight delegates will represent OSUN within the OEN. OSUN also plans to enroll up to seven librarians in OEN’s Certificate in Open Educational Librarianship program and hopes to invite the OEN to conduct additional training.

“I always ask, ‘What can we do better together that we can do alone?’” says Houlihan. “I see the OEN as a resource to help us get moving and figure out the answers when we don’t have them. Because we don’t have all the answers, you know. We’re still figuring things out, right?”


OEN members, please help us extend a warm welcome to OSUN. Questions? Email Barb Thees.

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