Sustainable University Day 2016
April 21, 2016 | University of Lausanne

Workshop highlights
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Photo: Université de Lausanne
Photo: Université de Lausanne

1 Pilot Workshop for Early Adopters: how to find the link between my discipline and sustainable development, and how to integrate sustainable development in my teaching

Karl Herweg, Anne Zimmermann, Univ. of Bern, Centre for Development and Environment (CDE); Nina Scheffler, Univ. of St. Gallen, Institute of Business Education and Educational Management (IWP), Centre for Didactics in Higher Education

A2-5, A3-32, A2-2

At the Universities of Bern and St Gallen, we are developing toolkits and workshop/coaching approaches to help our universities mainstream sustainable development (SD) into their curricula and courses. We would like to test 2 methods (1 each) developed in our projects to help lecturers to:
1) identify the link between their discipline and sustainable development (CDE/ZUW - Bern), and
2) identify possible didactic tools for shaping corresponding, discipline-specific training elements in their courses and curricula (IWP – St Gallen).
In other words, we would like to use the 2-hour workshop format to invite lecturers from all universities to participate in a pilot workshop and share their experience as “early adopters” of SD integration in teaching; participants will thus also have access to a growing network of “early adopters”.

We will reserve time at the end of the workshop to synthesize feedback from the participants. Our aim is to ensure that this feedback from “early adopters” contributes to improving the tools and approaches we have developed. Among the issues we have identified in developing these tools are the following:
- how to help lecturers see their disciplines “from the outside” and creatively identify links to SD;
- how to help lecturers feel confident about reflecting on their disciplinary epistemologies and identifying the relation between their scientific work and society;
- how to help them deal with perceived hindering factors that are related to the University context;
- how to help lecturers improve their didactic competences for ESD based on a “constructive alignment” approach to teaching and learning;
- how to motivate them to be part of an ESD community and share their experience as "co-designers" and potential “multipliers”.

The Workshop will take place in English. German- and French-speaking participants are most welcome and can contribute in their own language if they prefer to (we will do our best to translate where necessary).

2 Flexibility in transdisciplinary problem framing: How to integrate scientific and practical concerns in developing transdisciplinary research projects for sustainability?

Flurina Schneider, CDE, University of Berne; Basil Bornemann, Sustainability Research Group, University of Basel; Marius Christen, Sustainability Research Group, University of Basel; Marlyne Sahakian, University of Lausanne; Antonietta Di Giulio, University of Basel

C1-28, C1-38, C1-22

The Workshop deals with the overall question of how to integrate scientific and practical concerns in transdisciplinary research projects. The particular focus lies on factors that enable or limit flexibility in the process of problem framing as a crucial step of the development of transdisciplinary research designs. How and to what extend do researchers and practitioners have to be flexible to successfully work together and find scientifically interesting and practically relevant questions? What are respective scientific and practical limitations?

After a short introduction into the challenges of transdisciplinary problem framing and the scientific debate on the issue, practitioners and scientists present and discuss their experiences and strategies addressing questions such as:
- How do professional perspectives (e.g. disciplines, formation) limit flexibility for cooperation?
- How to engage different audiences in research design (e.g., participative methods including researchers, private-public sector, and everyday people with non certified knowledge)?
- How do personal and institutional goals frame the process of problem framing?
- What social aspects (roles, interests of institutions) determine the possibility of collaboration?
- What practical challenges (time, money, procedures) must be considered (and how)?
- What outputs and benefits (qualitative vs. quantitative, practice reports, scientific proposals and publications) are expected and seen as relevant for the possibility of successful collaboration?

By inviting scientists as well as practitioners to present their views, the workshop explicitly aims to strengthen the dialogue between all partners of transdisciplinary research.

3 Change agents for sustainability in higher education – Barriers and opportunities for leading change

Clemens Mader, Sustainability Team, UZH, Sofia Getzin, Science and Sustainability Education, UZH, Ale Parreño, UZH, Linde Warland, Sustainability Team, UZH, Ruth Förster, ETH, saguf – AG BNE


The workshop aims to elaborate on barriers and opportunities of change agents in taking leadership for sustainability in higher education. The UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development has been launched in 2015 as a follow up of the UN Decade on ESD. A lot of work has been done during the decade and ESD has become a concept that turned conceptions of integrating sustainability into education systems not only content wise, but rather in regards to its competence orientation and system wide reflection. The Global action programme calls for whole of institution approaches, policy integration, professional development, youth and regional stakeholder exchange and engagement. In the course of this workshop we like to elaborate on barriers and opportunities to take leadership for education for sustainable development.

Questions to be raised are :
1. Who are and can be change agents for ESD in our institutions?
2. How do we understand leadership? What kinds of leadership are we aware of/ are more effective regarding sustainability issues at different levels?
3. What limitations do change agents face?
4. What kind of collaborations help in overcoming barriers (in higher education)?
5. What are the action fields that are more recurrent for agency towards sustainable development in higher education? Good practices, opportunities?
6. What are possible initiatives?

Target audience: The workshop addresses (potential) change agents for sustainability in HE. In the workshop, participants identify limits and barriers of leadership for sustainability in higher education and to develop solution pathways to overcome those.
- Academic staff and lecturers
- Rectors/ Vice-chancellors
- Students
- Administrative staff
- Socio-cultural affairs
- Authorities
- Policy

The workshop will provide short inputs on the topic followed up by an interactive session involving participants actively into exchange of experience. We will adapt according to the needs and interests of the audience.

4 Engaging with the financial sector, NGOs, and international organizations to generate knowledge and identify hurdles to sustainable development

Philipp Krueger, Martin A Schlaepfer (University of Geneva)


Universities play a unique role in the field of sustainability. We view it as our mission to train the next generation of professionals capable of bridging disparate fields such as environmental science and finance. Universities also must offer a safe intellectual space where fundamental questions can be explored. In this workshop we propose to discuss methods for identifying the deep questions that are likely to play a major role in how society develops. We will draw in part upon our experiences from the early stages of our project, in which we conduct personal interviews with a wide range of actors sitting at the finance-sustainability interface, and we will share some of the key messages.

What other approaches are likely to generate valuable insights?

5 Greening The Campus 2.0: A living laboratory approach for sustainable universities

Patrick Jiranek, ETH Sustainability, ETH Zurich; Omar Kassab, ETH Sustainability, ETH Zurich

Presentation and discussion of the best practice project “A living laboratory for sustainable campus catering at ETHZ”. After the presentation of the project’s characteristics, the aims of a round table discussion are to, a) identify further relevant sustainability-related topics at universities beside catering and suitable for a living laboratory design, and, b) discuss opportunities and limits of analysing these topics in terms of this design.

Project background and method: Greening the campus and incubator initiatives are hands-on opportunities and yet also reflect viable options to involve students in collaborative action research. Against this backdrop, ETH Zurich designed a multi-stakeholder-, seed sustainability-project–in cooperation with the World Food System Center–that temporarily transformed two major campus canteens into one control and one experimental canteen.

Project design, objective, and outcomes: Under supervision, seven students analysed ecological, social, and economic factors of system catering. The aim was to test solutions to minimize environmental impact while safeguarding sales and consumer health. Recommendations for caterers include offer- and demandsided strategies, a) to promote climate-friendly meal choices; b) to measure and reduce food waste generated by guests; and c) to foster healthy and sustainable diets. In addition, policyrecommendations subsume a voluntary, systemic framework for greenhouse gas emission, that administrative bodies of both academic and societal institutions can apply. This framework includes target-setting for caterers and a standardized monitoring and incentive scheme.

Further projects to involve: B1-11 (content-related), B1-33 (content-related), B2-1 (method-related), B2-5 (method-related), In addition: any projects that include or could be expanded to student/inhouse research in answering sustainability-related issues at universities.


6 VSN VSS Position papers: Uniting students’ demands for a sustainable university on a limited planet

Vivian Frick, Flora Märki (VSN-FDD-FSS);
Anna Rickenbach (VSS)


The role of students is often limited to studying, but still there is a growing engagement concerning the universities’ duties on sustainability. Stressing the importance of student involvement, VSN and VSS produced a position paper naming their common goals for sustainability at swiss universities and colleges. They capture goals of governance, education, research, student participation, role of political actors, infrastructure and the campus as an experimental room for sustainable innovation to include students and non-academic partners in research.

Further, they produced a demand charter with their current and most pressing claims for sustainability at universities and colleges in 2016, focusing on education, student participation and political actors, including the sd-programme.

The two papers will be presented and the following will be discussed:
⇒ Impact: Which demands are most likely to be answered? How can these demands be translated into action fast and effectively? ⇒ Collaboration: How can the already existing structures and projects be supported by students?
⇒ Drivers and limits: What could hinder universities and colleges in following the demand charter?


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