Inspiring case study: Institutionalizing sustainability at the University of Tübingen
In the past years, the University of Tübingen has made great efforts to incorporate Sustainable Development into research, teaching, operations and governance. In the following, I want to briefly introduce the most important initiatives, and encourage you, the reader, to emulate those at your own university:
Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
Since 2011, the University of Tübingen is EMAS-certified to continuously improve its environmental performance. EMAS at the University of Tübingen is administered by the environmental coordinator Hedwig Ogrzewalla. The idea to establish an Environmental Management System was first introduced by the student initiative “Greening the University”. As part of the EMAS-process the University of Tübingen has compiled environmental guidelines which comprise goals and principles to inform decision-making. Read more.
Advisory Board for Sustainable Development
The Advisory Board for Sustainable Development reports to the President’s Office. It meets twice per semester and consists of active representatives of all university groups, including staff, students, services and management. The Advisory Board is an integral organ and open towards suggestions from outside. It continuously evaluates, innovates and communicates the sustainability strategy and its implementations at the University of Tübingen. The Board also serves to exchange information and perspectives on Sustainable Development among all university members. Suggested by the student initiative “Greening the University”, the Board was established in 2011.
Centre of Competence for Sustainable Development / School of Sustainability
In order to further institutionalize Sustainable Development within the university, a Centre of Competence for Sustainable Development / the School for Sustainability is being stablished with financial support from the federal state of Baden-Württemberg (funding 2013-2017). The establishment of the School is an important step by which the university will mainstream Sustainable Development in both research and education, as well as connect and strengthen operations and governance. The Centre will connect the whole university; the initiation of the project is lead by the International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities. Read more.
Innovation Fund Sustainable Development
With the Innovation Fund Sustainable Development, the School for Sustainability facilitates the (start-up) financing of innovative teaching and research projects, including smaller research projects, innovative courses, student projects, knowledge transfer or conferences. Students, teaching staff and researchers can apply for funding. (Read more).
Since 2011, the university awards annual prizes for outstanding Bachelor and Master theses in the field of Sustainable Development. Students from all faculties can apply for the award. A Sustainability Lecture with a prominent keynote speaker is held at the award ceremony.
The Studium Oecologicum comprises seminars to a broad spectrum of issues of Sustainable Development. An important feature is that Bachelor and Masters students from all disciplines can receive credit points for attending these seminars. The Studium Oecologicum is a major initiative to boost Education for Sustainable Development within the curriculum. Students need to attend a minimum of one foundation course and two thematically focused courses to also receive a certificate. Read more.
All in all, the University of Tübingen picks up suggestions from its students. It has created structural conditions, which support commitment for sustainability and participation. Especially student initiatives have been the driving force behind these efforts and can now use the possibilities that the university offers, in various ways.
If you want to learn more about the sustainability efforts of our university, please contact Diana Grundmann or Prof. Dr. Thomas Potthast from our Centre of Competence / School for Sustainability via email.
Text by Philipp Hertling. Philipp studies at the University of Tübingen, and is member of the Cradle to Cradle group in Tübingen. For more questions, Philipp can be contacted via email.