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Sustainability in Research, Teaching, and Management

Over the last 200 years humans have transformed the environment in unprecedented ways. In order to ensure a high quality of life and continued progress for the next generation, we must confront major challenges as a global community. Higher education is crucial to this process. At Freie Universität, the subject of sustainability is a major focus for research, teaching, and management.

A clear commitment to sustainability

In 2015 Freie Universität has stipulated its commitment in its sustainability principles. Furthermore, the Sustainability and Energy Management Unit was founded the same year to initiate and coordinate sustainability-related activities and measures in research, teaching, and campus management. The unit advises the university management and at the same time is the point of contact for members of the university in all sustainability issues. Further information can be found here.

Sustainability in research and teaching

Freie Universität is a university that provides opportunities for thought processes and projects that can offer answers for global social and ecological issues of today and the future. This includes research that can contribute to solutions as well as sustainability-oriented courses.

In 2017, at least 30% of all research projects were related to sustainability and about 15% of courses substantively addressed aspects of sustainability. These provide a good foundation for our continuin work. Currently, we are establishing Sustainable Development as a new area in the field of the General Professional Skills Courses to expand sustainability in teaching further.

As academia's role in policy making continues to grow, Freie Universität remains committed to its social responsibility as a research institution.

At the Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU), an international team of social scientists engages in academic and practical research and advises policy makers. Additionally, the FFU contributes to a well-rounded academic program in the social sciences that is focused on energy and environmental issues in Europe and internationally.

Earth scientists research atmospheric weather, climate, environmental processes, and human impact.

Humanity’s role in influencing the Earth’s climate and environment, from early epochs to today, is the research focus of geologists, geographers, and meteorologists at the GeoCampus Lankwitz. Palaeolandscape and Geomorphology looks at subjects like Integrated Watershed Management and researches how we can make use of our water resources sustainably. The efficient use of water and the protection of humans from floods are focus areas of the scientists working in Applied Geography, Environmental Hydrology and Resource Management. Climate Diagnostics and Extreme Meteorological Events are one of many research areas in the Institute for Meteorology at Freie Universität.

The protection and sustainable use of plants are central themes of research and education at Freie Universität Berlin.

The Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences (DCPS), uses a wide range of plant science content and methodology to combat environmental challenges. More than 150 scientists dedicate themselves in 20 different working groups, each centered on one of two main themes: “Diversity and Function” and “Plants and the Environment.”

Energy controlling and monitoring survey the university´s energy consumption and keep it low

Between 2001 and 2011 we reduced our energy consumption by more than 26% and have kept it around this level despite increased enrollment and third-party spending. Considering the carbon dioxide-free purchase of electricity since 2010, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 81% compared to 2001.

Students, scholars, and employees contribute their dedication, expertise, research, and networking to sustainable thought and action within our community.

Freie Universität’s SUSTAIN IT! initiative seeks to show how every day can be made more sustainable through concrete changes in our habits. The initiative facilitates a regular engagement with local and global ecological questions from multiple facets of society, including science, politics, economics, infrastructure, and education.

If you want to read more about our sustanability achievements at FU Berlin you can download our sustainability report 2018.

In March 2015 researchers and practitioners from more than 40 different universities and institutions discussed the opportunities for participatory sustainability initiatives at universities during the UGAF (UNICA Green Academic Footprint) workshop. Image Credit: Sophia Halamoda