Sustainability in Research, Teaching, Knowledge Transfer, and on Campus
Securing a livable future poses profound challenges for the entire international community. Climate protection, conserving biodiversity, the fight against poverty, and intergenerational justice are just a few examples of challenges that need to be met. What knowledge, what technical and social innovations, and what skills we will need to create a sustainable future are unresolved issues. It is, however, undisputed that higher education plays a major role in this process.
Freie Universität Berlin is committed to this responsibility. In 2016 the university adopted a sustainability mission statement, pledging to implement sustainability in all areas of the university – in research, teaching, knowledge transfer, administration, and on campus.
Freie Universität is actively involved in the scientific discourse on the Global Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015. In both research and teaching, members of the university seek solutions to the complex global challenges. Courses and research-oriented teaching aim specifically to address sustainability. Universities educate the decision makers of the future.
In 2017 30 percent of all the research projects at Freie Universität were related to sustainability, and 15 percent of all the courses dealt with sustainability in some form. As of the 2018/19 winter semester, the university has been adding to courses taught within the skill area: sustainable development in the General Professional Skills Courses.
Sustainability management needs to be addressed across the board. At Freie Universität it is coordinated and managed by the Sustainability and Energy Management Unit. It includes coordination of the various teams, improved visibility and integration of sustainability activities in teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and campus management, coordination of the skill area on sustainable development in the General Professional Skills Courses, management of the University Alliance for Sustainability, and coordination of the regional and international network activities. Within Campus Management it is responsible for guiding the certification process (in accordance with EMAS) and the integrated management system, for waste management, and for energy monitoring and the reimbursement system for energy saving.
Sustainability can only be implemented at a university if there are opportunities for participation, and if active participation is a priority. With the Sustainability Steering Committee, sustainability teams in the academic departments, the audit teams, and the sustainability initiative SUSTAIN IT! Founded by students in 2010, the university has many individuals and formats working actively to bring sustainability to the university.