Universiteit Leiden

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Criteria for collaboration

The climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Our students and staff are worried, and our researchers are delivering important contributions to climate science. And as a university we are committed to raising awareness and making our teaching and operations more sustainable. The Executive Board is constantly looking for ways in which we can have a positive impact on a sustainable world. One example of this is how we are working on clear criteria for collaboration with external parties such as the fossil fuel industry.

Impassioned debate

The question has been raised both within and outside the university of whether we should still collaborate with the fossil fuel industry. We held a debate on this at the university on 27 September 2023 with a large group students and staff. In the at times impassioned speeches, some people’s answers were clearer than others. Several students present felt that the university should sever its ties with the fossil fuel industry immediately. But it also became clear during the debate that there are other sides to this issue. We want to consider these carefully with not only our community but also experts.

Fossil fuel industry

Companies engaged in the exploration, extraction and exploitation of fossil fuels.

New criteria for collaboration

We therefore started working on new criteria in the autumn of 2023. These criteria will enable us to determine whether, and if so under what conditions, we want to collaborate with the fossil fuel industry. We think it is important that the academic community’s voice is heard on this complex issue. We also want to include relevant scientific knowledge and developments in these considerations and will be holding sessions on this with experts from various disciplines.

The next steps

What exactly does this mean? In the autumn of 2023, we will discuss possible new criteria with experts, deans and, as student and staff representatives, the University Council. This issue is complex and has many sides to it, which means this process will time. In February 2024, the Executive Board plans to release a statement with basic principles that collaborations with companies from the fossil fuel industry, among others, should adhere to.

When will we make a decision?

In the spring of 2024, these principles will be developed into criteria that will apply to our research and teaching. We want to concretise these into guidelines and tools for students, staff, study associations and any other parties. The Executive Board will make a final decision in June 2024 on the new criteria for collaboration with external parties.

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