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Sustainability and Co-participation Conference

More than 30 members of Programme Committees, Faculty Councils and the University Council met online on 27 November with a mission: how can university co-participation work towards a more sustainable university in terms of education, research, and operations? The Leiden University Green Office and the University Council organised a conference with discussions on ideas, challenges and shining examples.

"The climate crisis is an incredibly urgent problem," the organisers explain. "To solve it, you need all scientific disciplines. That is why it is important that we give our students the knowledge and skills to work with sustainability in their careers. And of course, as a university, we need to set a good example: we take climate science seriously."

Dr.ir. Sanli Faez, associate professor of physics at Utrecht University, endorses that urgency and adds that universities also have a responsibility to communicate clearly about the climate crisis. Faez has been campaigning for climate action at universities for some time and has previously shaken up the academic world with a critical article in ScienceGuide.

Greener investments and sustainability in lectures
The participating students and staff members from the co-participation bodies shared this enthusiasm. They proposed, among other things, that financial reserves and pension funds should no longer be invested in fossil-based companies, and that programme committees could with lecturers to see if sustainability could be incorporated into existing courses. A complete overview of the proposals discussed is available as a PDF document.
The participating representative bodies intend to have more frequent discussions to write proposals for a more sustainable university. At the Faculty of Humanities, for example, some students are already writing down some ideas to present to their Faculty Board.

Ideas for a greener university?
Students and employees who have ideas to make the university more sustainable can always contact Leiden University Green Office. For university staff and members of the participation there is also the Leiden University Sustainability Network on Microsoft Teams.

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