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University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
Information
  • Submitted by: Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI)
  • Topic: Education
  • Keywords: education
  • Location: Vienna, Austria
  • Date of completion: 2013
  • Click for more information
Deliverables & Resources
Action network
  • This voluntary initiative came from Higher Education Sustainability Initiative
Dean
Signatory/Dean
Martin Gerzabek , Rector Univ.-Prof. Dr. DDDr.h.c
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

Partner(s)

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

Description/achievement of initiative

Teach sustainable development concepts
Encourage research on sustainable development issues
Incorporation of indicators on the societal and sustainability impact of research in the BOKU research documentation system
Evaluation of current and past research projects at BOKU with regards to sustainability impact
Presenting research projects with high societal and sustainability impact on the university homepage
Green our campuses
Engage with and share results through international frameworks

Implementation methodologies

Through the following programs and initiatives in Austria: SUSTAINICUM, a cooperative project between the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, the University of Graz and the Graz University of Technology, as well as the Doctoral College on Sustainable Development (doKNE), the Centre for Development Research (CDR), the Centre for Global Change and Sustainability (gW/N), and the EMAS certification. Through engagement with international frameworks, including European Joint Programming (JPI) in climate research.

Our sustainability project between 2012 and 2015:

Teach sustainable development concepts:

SUSTAINICUM is a cooperative project between the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, the University of Graz and the Graz University of Technology. The project is a part of a Federal Ministry for Science and Research programme and has the goal of integrating sustainability themes and concepts into various disciplines in university teaching. The primary function is to create a resource-pool of contents and materials that aim to ‘bring to life' concepts, processes and relationships of sustainability, which will be made available to all teaching staff from all universities via an internet platform. With the help of innovative teaching methods, systemic and holistic thinking will be encouraged across disciplines. The focus upon ecological and natural science aspects should also help awaken interest, particularly in female students, for MINT-subjects: mathematics, IT, natural sciences and technology.

Next to providing the aforementioned building blocks to teaching staff, the project also aims to create a lecture consisting of several such modules. In the coming years this lecture could form the basis of a sustainable development module for all (first-semester) students at the university, regardless of the respective discipline.

Furthermore, the university's largest field of study, Environmental and Natural Resource Management offered at both Bachelor and Master level, teaches resource, environmental and sustainability issues across disciplines. In this framework, many subjects are on offer on issues such as organic agriculture, sustainable planning, development research, climate change, as well as courses on energy, soil, water, forestry and also broader, encompassing topics such as security and ethics. This offering is regularly evaluated and continuously evolving.

Encourage research on sustainable development issues:

In 2007 the University established the first Austrian doctoral college (doKNE) on sustainable development. After a very successful first programme, with 12 completed dissertations covering a diverse range of topics in the field of sustainable development, doKNE II was launched in 2011 and will run for the next three years with 10 doctoral and one post-doctoral student covering topics from sustainable land-use to collective eco-tourism in Laos.

Beyond this, the Centre for Global Change and Sustainability is working together with the research documentation service of BOKU on the issue of societal and sustainability impact of research. In this context, questions of indicators and appropriate assessment processes are being addressed. In the coming years the following steps will be undertaken:

• Incorporation of indicators on the societal and sustainability impact of research in the BOKU research documentation system

• Evaluation of current and past research projects at BOKU with regards to sustainability impact

• Presenting research projects with high societal and sustainability impact on the university homepage

Furthermore the Doctoral College on Sustainable Development (doKNE), the Centre for Development Research (CDR) and the Centre for Global Change and Sustainability (gW/N) will continue to stimulate and carry out research in the areas of global change and sustainable development.

Green our campuses:

In the framework of the EMAS certification (BOKU was the first certified Austrian university) many activities such as sustainable waste management (including recycling) and the introduction environmentally sustainable products (FSC paper, bio-degradable cleaning products etc.) have been undertaken. Furthermore the latest sustainability report will be released in summer 2012 documenting progress on various issues of sustainable development within the university. There will be a full report every 2-3 years, with condensed annual updates on progress to be published.

In 2010 the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) established a working group on campus ecology charged with greening the campus. The working group is currently working on projects in a number of areas:

• Carbon offsetting: a publicly available system for offsetting of flight and other emissions has been established at BOKU. The funds go toward the extension of existing small scale research projects with sustainability characteristics (participation, biodiversity, employment benefits, gender equality etc.) in Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

• Organic food: over the past year the working group, together with students and professors at the university, organized a survey on eating habits of students in conjunction with organic food. An extension to the study to cover staff is planned for 2012. The results have already been incorporated in talks between the university and a potential caterer to offer organic food in the university canteen.

• Photovoltaic student initiative: in the framework of a cross-disciplinary course on sustainability start-ups at university, a group of students is working on a co-operatively funded photovoltaic system for university buildings

• In the framework of the working group tenders for acquisitions of goods and services by the university are discussed and sustainability criteria included (e.g. the tender for the establishment of a new bakery/snack bar was released in late 2011, including the criterion that at least one-third of produce be organic).

Furthermore, a ‘house of the future' is currently being planned by the university which will house lecture theatres, IT rooms, the students union, the canteen and a number of university institutes. This building is being built to energy-plus-standard, including green facades and a large PV installation. The building will be finished in 2015.

Engage with and share results through international frameworks:

Inspiring and advising collaborative research environments, such as European Joint Programming (JPI) in climate research, to implement a sustainability strategy for their operations, including:

• Climate Performance: Taking into account the climate footprint of research, re-thinking operations (e.g. “green meetings” and low-carbon mobility) and formulating the endeavour of constant improvement of the operations climate performance.

• Open access to knowledge and innovation: to foster the free flow and sharing of research outputs in terms of an open access to knowledge and innovation strategy

• Stakeholder-orientation: To integrate the knowledge, values and objectives of societal decision-makers in the conceptualization and implementation of research activities through an active participation of stakeholder group representatives.

The above and many other issues are covered in the annual updates to the sustainability report and the bi- or tri-annual full sustainability report of the university.

Deliverables
Deliverable Date
Annual Sustainability Report 2013
Resources
Type Details
Staff / Technical expertise Expertise of students and staff committed to sustainability
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