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Survey: Leiden students want to learn more about sustainability in their studies

Students at Leiden University believe that their degree programmes should focus more on sustainability. These are the findings of a survey of more than 550 students by Leiden University Green Office.

The ‘Sustainability in Education’ survey was carried out by the Leiden University Green Office in collaboration with Goodrise. A total of 572 students completed the survey, a representative sample of bachelor’s and master’s students from all faculties and of Dutch and international students. 

University more active role

One of the survey questions was about how students see the university’s role in incorporating and promoting sustainability. More than three quarters of the respondents said they thought this role should be an active one. They also said that sustainability was important to them and that they would like to learn more about it. The extent to which sustainability was reflected in their degree programme was something they were more likely to be dissatisfied than satisfied with.

Education for the future

One striking finding was that three quarters of the students believe that knowledge and skills related to sustainability will be beneficial to their future careers or lives. According to Soemano Zeijlmans (LUGO), project leader of the study, this underscores the urgency of focusing on sustainability in higher education: ‘It is the university’s duty to train its students for careers as academics or professionals. Knowledge about sustainability is indispensable to the economy of tomorrow – and of today. If students don’t learn this, this will be a missed opportunity for the university.’

Words into deeds

The students are willing to turn words into deeds, with many saying that they would be interested in an elective on sustainability in their discipline. One example of this is the popular lecture series on sustainability and law (in Dutch). But the students said they would prefer another option: more attention to sustainability in existing courses. Zeijlmans: ‘The advantage of this approach is that students see sustainability in relation to the study material. They can learn about the Paris climate treaty in a lecture on international treaties, for example. But an elective does give them the opportunity to delve deeper into the subject matter.’ 

Detailed results

For the full Sustainability in Education report, see the Green Office website, also for the results per faculty. The results per programme and specialisation are also available on request.

Leiden University Green Office

Leiden University Green Office (LUGO) is the university’s student-run sustainability department. It is committed to incorporating sustainability into the university’s teaching, research and operations, and also works to create a culture of sustainability on the campus among students and staff.

LUGO is responsible for the university’s Sustainability Network and the It’s Not Easy Being Green podcast. LUGO’s vision on the sustainable university is outlined in its Green Paper.

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