From now on, all students at Radboud University will be taught about sustainability: “We will not be goat wool socks”

From now on, all students at Radboud University will be taught about sustainability: “We will not be goat wool socks”

Daniel Wigboldus, Chair of the Board of Directors of Radboud UniversityBert Bellin’s photo

Isn’t your ad, about the Glasgow Climate Summit, just a useful PR stunt?

“Of course we draw attention to ourselves with this, but at the same time we try to do it in a very honest way. We try to make it clear that we consider sustainability important to our education. We are not the first or only in this. There are many universities and colleges in the Netherlands that work on sustainability in a good way.

Why does Radboud University offer this only now, 53 years after the founding of the Club of Rome?

Sustainability has played a role in our education and research for some time now. In this sense, it is an incremental project. Two years ago we set out to define a new strategy: We want sustainability to be an integral part of every discipline. The programs themselves define how to do this, for example by introducing sustainability as a separate topic or incorporating it into assignments or thesis topics. It’s not just about a chemistry student learning something about nitrogen, it’s also about a law student investigating the legal aspects of sustainability issues.

I’ve now mentioned a number of logical examples, but what’s the use of lessons about sustainability for a math student?

It can, for example, make predictions about climate changes using complex algorithms. Or think about how to organize the movement of freight around the world more efficiently, so that the environment is less burdensome.

Dutch language and culture demanded?

From the point of view of literature, the latter can deal with the question: How did sustainability in political history develop into something that is now so central to the agenda and what is the effect of word choice in explaining the gravity of this problem? This is pertinent to the topic.

What does Radboud University want to achieve with this?

First of all, to create awareness. The message we send to our students is: These sustainability issues are ultimately about you. It comes down to what you can make of your studies. At the same time, we encourage students not only to look for solutions, but also to ask the right questions. Because we want students to matter, as well as about the ideals of sustainability and the sustainable development goals. We are not going to be goat wool socks.

On SustainaBul, the sustainability ranking of higher education institutions put together by students, this year Radboud University was ranked 22nd out of 32. How is this possible?

I’m the first to admit that we still have a lot of steps to take, even as an organization itself. What I think is very good is that our students are increasingly referring to us.

Can you give an example?

“There has been a debate about serving meat going on on campus for some time. We have now made sure that the lunches ordered are vegetarian by default. If people want to eat meat however, they need to explicitly indicate that. This way you are not restricting people’s choice, but you are contributing In raising awareness, it’s little things like this that make the difference.

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