Topic Room "Higher Education Institutions"
Aims, Agendas, Actors
How can the sustainable development goals be incorporated into the structures of higher education institutions (HEIs)? And in what ways can international networks support this integration? The sessions in this topic room were dealing with possible answers to these questions (such as the "green office model").
Slot 1 ‒ The Green Office Model
Workshop The Green Office Model: A platform to invite students, staff and academics to contribute to the institution’s sustainability efforts
Felix Spira, Anselm Grahl, Tim Strasser (Germany)
How to establish a sustainability platform that invites every stakeholder group to contribute to the sustainability agenda?
Felix Spira und Anselm Grahl (rootAbility gUG and UNESCO Chair Higher Education for Sustainable Development at Leuphana University Lüneburg) discussed this question with around 20 participants in the Workshop
The Green Office Model: A platform to invite students, staff and academics to contribute to the institution’s sustainability efforts.
The participants had the opportunity to reflect on the Green Office (GO) Model and to discuss how to establish a sustainability platform that invites students and other stakeholder groups to contribute to the university’s sustainability efforts. Different case studies were presented and time was given to share and reflect the sustainability transformation at participants’ own universities.
Find more information about the GO Model and the challenges and opportunities regarding the implementation in the presentation (PDF).
Slot 2 ‒ Challenges of Diversity Management
Workshop How can we deal with a shrinking work force in times of demographical change? Workshop on the forthcoming challenges of diversity management
Bror Giesenbauer, University of Bremen (Germany)
What is diversity management and why is it important in the context of social sustainability? Bror Giesenbauer (Universität Bremen) discussed the impact of demographic change on academia and society in general with the participants in the workshop
How Can We Deal with a Shrinking Work Force in Times of Demographic Change?
Workshop on the Forthcoming Challenges of Diversity Management.
Photo: pexels, CC0 Lizenz
The workshop focused on viable solutions and used structured group settings to come up with systemic approaches to mitigate the escalating conflict of work and family life: Asking the “Crash-Question” and the “Miracle-Question” engaged the participants of the workshop to picture how academia and society should look or may NOT look like in order to cope with demographic change. For more information, also have a look at the presentation (PDF).
Crash Question: What would have to happen to ensure that we fail completely to cope with demographic change?
- We turned back in time to anti diversity
- We have less sustainability (use of resources...)
- The facility rate declines
- The competition in academia increases
- We have a closed system (don´t let anybody in)
Miracle Question: How would you notice that the miracle (= overcome demographic change) had happened? What would be different? How would you feel? How would you and others act?
- More children → visible on campus, more support for academics/students with children, no disadvantages for parents
- Atmosphere of freedom & trust
- Same rights & duties for both sexes
- We have no borders → everybody is free to move and pursue their dreams
- Equality, justice & chances
- Basic income for everyone
- Equal access to information
- Well-educated citizens
- Everyone is heard and included
- Empathy, even for extremists to some extend
- No one “takes it all”
Slot 3 ‒ Innovation Potential of International Networks
Workshop The innovation potential of international networks. Fostering sustainability in higher education institutions via international cooperation
Katrin Risch, Program Manager ‘University Alliance for Sustainability’, Freie Universität Berlin (Germany)
What should sustainability networking events in HEIs look like to contribute meaningfully to the sustainability discourse? What are the “ingredients” for a good conference? Katrin Risch (Freie Universität Berlin) conducted the workshop
The Innovation Potential of International Networks:
Fostering Sustainability in HEIs via International Cooperation.
After a short introduction of the network ‘University Alliance for Sustainability’ (PDF) the participants discussed and reflected how a successful sustainability networking event should look like. The result of the workshop was a “cooking recipe” for a conference. All conference visitors could comment the results during the brain walk later on.
Cooking Recipe for a sustainability networking event
- Space and time to connect
- Sustainable conference culture → catering, mobility
- Develop a vision → generate solutions strategies
- Inspiring speakers
- Specific mission + indicators to measure success
- Freedom to pursue interests
- Leadership + support
- Interactive formats
- Story telling
- Professional moderators
- Music and art (to create an inspiring atmosphere; to illustrate answers)
- Talk about challenges as well to encourage engagement
- Exercise! Participate physically
Slot 4 ‒ How to empower universities to deal with Sustainable Development Goals?
Workshop How to empower universities to deal with SDGs?
Lisa Bohunovsky; Richard Kromp; Prof. Dr. Helga Kromp-Kolb, BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (Austria)
The interactive workshop at the HSDS directly tackled the conference topic “Contribution of Higher Education Institutions to global SDGs: How do the SDGs impact HEI and vice versa?” Lisa Bohunovsky and Prof. Dr. Helga Kromp-Kolb (BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna) shortly introduced the Austrian integration process of SDGs in Higher Education Institutions (PDF).
Afterwards the workshop participants collected experiences and ideas about the SDG implementation process with the Group InVEntion Method (GIVE©). Opportunities and challenges as well as requirements and barriers coming along with the implementation process of the SDGs were discussed.
Below, you can find some of the results collected with the Group InVEntion Method (GIVE©):
Photo: Markus Scholz /
- Involve citiziens
- Guide the political discourse
- Include sustainability related classes in all curricula
- Enable teacher’s capacity building
- Put staff and money in cross disciplinary baskets
- Willingness and permission for interdisciplinary cooperation
- Students as co-creators of teaching environment
- “Free”-credit points in every degree program for social involvement or interdisciplinary courses
- Common (research) projects on SDGs
- End competition for financial research support
- Working groups for certain SDGs
- Coordinator/center to work with the faculties/departments to integrate the SDGs
- SDGs should also be a part of the universities sustainability reports
- Educate the university community about the SDGs
- Set-up / Support networks on SDGs
- Universities as facilitators of societal reflection and public discourses on SDGs / how to reach them
Slot 5 ‒ Flash Clash: HEIs and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Open Discussion HEIs and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The Universität Hamburg Center for a Sustainable University, University of Hamburg (Germany), Moderation: Christine Stecker
The FlashClash was an intuitive, spontaneous discussion and negotiation session, in which four visitors played the roles of different (university) stakeholders, representing divergent interests and searching for a common solution regarding one SDG-topic. Christine Stecker (KNU, Universität Hamburg) was the moderator of the discussion.
The stakeholder roles and the SDG-topics were chosen randomly:
- In the first round only university representatives – a student, a president, an administration staff member and a professor – discussed their positions and contributions to SDG 5 “Gender Equality”.
- In the second round a university president, an NGO representative, the CEO of a large company and a journalist discussed responsibilities and engagement regarding SDG 7 “Affordable and Clean Energy”.
Slot 6 ‒ Sustainability in HEI: Research Agenda and Stakeholder Expectations
Poster The Universität Hamburg Center for a Sustainable University: a whole- institution approach towards managing transformational processes
The Universität Hamburg Center for a Sustainable University, University of Hamburg (Germany)
Presentation Reinvigorating the sustainable development research agenda: the role of the sustainable development goals
Prof. Dr. (mult.) Dr. h.c. (mult.) Walter Leal, Manchester Metropolitan University (United Kingdom) and Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany); Prof. Ulisses Manuel de Mirando Azeiteiro, University of Aveiro, (Portugal); Fátima Alves, University of Coimbra (Portugal); Prof. Dr. Paul J. Pace; Dr. Mark Mifsud, University of Malta (Malta); Luciana Brandli, University of Passo Fundo (Brazil); Prof. Dr. Sandra S. Caeiro, Portuguese Distance Learning University (Portugal); Dr. Antje Disterheft, Center for Environmental and Sustainability Research, Nova University of Lisbon (Portugal)
Workshop Stakeholder expectations on a sustainable university – a case study of the University of Hamburg
Colin Bien; Prof. Dr. Hermann Held; Dr. habil. Remmer Sassen, University of Hamburg (Germany)
Colin Bien, Prof. Dr. Hermann Held and Dr. Remmer Sassen (Universität Hamburg) (Germany) conducted the workshop
Stakeholder expectations on a sustainable university –
a case study of the University of Hamburg.
They shortly introduced their research project and especially the Stakeholder Theory as a framework (Presentation (PDF)). Using the world café method the workshop participants had the opportunity to discuss different aspects regarding sustainability at universities and stakeholder expectations using governance-equalizers as a tool; the topics of the five tables were:
- Scientific Excellence vs. Social Relevance
- Educational approach humanistic vs. utilitarian
- Regional contribution vs. global contribution
- Scientists only vs. full integration of external actors
- High autonomy vs. full integration of stakeholder expectations
After the workshop Prof. Dr. Walter Leal gave a presentation on
Reinvigorating sustainability research and the implementation the SDGs:
The role of inter-university sustainable development research program
relating to the question of responsibility of HEIs. Walter Leal introduced the “Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme (IUSDRP)”: A network containing the three key pillars – research income, publications and visibility in the field of SDGs and Sustainable Development – in order to foster research on sustainability and SDGs. Find more information about IUSDRP on the HAW Hamburg website (PDF).