Our planet is currently facing multiple environmental crises, including climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, pollution and waste, and young people are predicted to be the most affected.
Universities play an important role in supporting students to think critically about our current world and develop a vision for a more sustainable future. With 17.5 million students across the EU 27 countries, enabling them to develop the skills, understanding and values needed to turn their visions for a sustainable future into reality is a key role for our higher education institutions. Students participating in the Green Erasmus survey concur, with 93% of respondents agreeing that in general ‘environmental sustainability is something universities should actively support and promote’.
The Green Erasmus survey respondents showed a strong desire to learn about sustainability, with 85% saying it’s something they want to learn more about. Universities can support students to develop the knowledge, skills and values needed to contribute to a sustainable future in a number of different ways, from incorporating learning opportunities within the curriculum across any academic discipline or subject area to supporting students to adopt environmentally positive habits and behaviours in their everyday lives. Universities can also play a role in fostering connections with local communities, allowing students to actively participate in society, as future leaders in sustainability.
Actions you can take
- Have a look at the list of courses and/ or modules offered at your host university and find sustainability-focused ones. Consider applying for one of these.
- When sustainability is omitted during classroom discussion by others, bring up some examples yourself and/or question this.
- If there is a formal feedback mechanism on your course or module content, and you feel it is missing critical sustainability content, report this through the most appropriate avenue at your host university e.g. through course representatives or the course convenor.
- If you’re looking to volunteer your time and want to get involved in local initiatives, consider joining environmental or sustainability societies or clubs at your host university or in the local community. Some universities even have student-run Green Offices that you may consider joining!
- Bring sustainability into other past times or activities that you’re involved with outside your formal course e.g. if running events, think about how they can be delivered sustainably.