As a leading European research university, Leiden University plays a leading role in scientific research and education. Good scientific research and education are crucial for a safe, healthy, sustainable, prosperous and just world (Freedom to Excel, Institutional Plan Leiden University 2015-2020).
Learn skills to tackle sustainability
Social issues, including sustainable development and its related themes, are addressed to a greater or lesser extent by all faculties in their education and research. By teaching students the knowledge and skills that are important for solving complex sustainability issues, Leiden University enables them to play a role in the sustainability challenges of the coming decades. Leiden University offers programmes in which sustainability is a central theme; examples are the master's in Governance of Sustainability and the master's in Industrial Ecology (in collaboration with TU Delft). In addition, sustainability themes are increasingly integrated into existing courses or students choose this theme for their assignments or thesis.
Sustainability initiatives for students
Please read more about four specific projects Leiden University helped realise in the past few years for students.
1) Kennisatelier Duurzaamheid
At the beginning of 2018, Leiden University and the programme team Sustainability of the Municipality of Leiden, together with the Municipality of The Hague, established the Kennisatelier Duurzaamheid (Knowledge Studio on Sustainability). Within this studio, master's students from the Industrial Ecology programme will work for the municipality(s) on issues relating to energy transition, climate adaptation and the circular economy. In 2020, they investigated whether the municipality of Leiden could build enough houses by 2030 and still use half as many materials.
2) Sustainable Business Battle
In April 2020, the Sustainable Business Battle took place again, but in a different format, namely as a panel discussion. This year, the organisation focused on Sustainable Development Goal number 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. The central question in the discussion was how participants can encourage people to make positive changes and be more innovative, both within their own organisation and beyond. The areas in which changes could take place were very diverse, ranging from the use of raw materials to consumer awareness.
3) Learning with the City
The initiative Leren met de Stad (Learning with the City) is a Leiden platform for concrete and structural cooperation between the university, Hogeschool Leiden, the municipality of Leiden and PLNT (the Leiden centre for innovation and entrepreneurship). The aim of Leren met de Stad is to make better use of the available knowledge to solve complex social problems, including sustainability issues. Students are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge and experience to sustainability issues.
4) Sustainability and Law lecture series
In 2020, the Faculty of Law organised for the second time a six-part lecture series on 'Sustainability and Law'. In addition, the faculty offered a summer course on international law and climate change. Forty participants from Vanuatu (Oceania), London and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among others, followed various online lectures.