Sustainability Education for each student at Linköping University
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We, the klimatstudenterna Linköping group and all other LiU students and employees that signed this petition, want to make use of the swedish university law "högskolelagen" and its 1 kap. 4 a §: "Studenterna skall ha rätt att utöva inflytande över utbildningen vid högskolorna." (Students should have the right to influence the education at universities) (1). We are therefore writing to you today about a very important issue and demand action from you.
As is well known, Sweden is one of the 184 parties that ratified the in 2015 established Paris Agreement. The main aim of the agreement is that our global temperature rise has to stay well below 2 degrees Celcius, in comparison with pre-industrial levels. Besides, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNPCCC), all parties have to "pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius" (2). 2015 was also the year that countries, amoung whom Sweden, adopted the 2030 Agenda with its global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN): 17 goals that together provide "a global blueprint for dignity, peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future" (3). Sweden has the ambition to take a leading role, nationally and globally, in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda (4).
The fourth SDG is specifically focused on education (5). One of the targets is to "by 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture's contribution to sustainable development" (6). Sweden aims to work on the target on several levels - including, but not limited to, higher education. As the Swedish law, högskolelagen 1 kap. 5 § says: "Högskolorna skall i sin verksamhet främja en hållbar utveckling som innebär att nuvarande och kommande generationer tillförsäkras en hälsosam och god miljö, ekonomisk och social välfärd och rättvisa." (The universities shall in their work promote a sustainable development, which includes that current and coming generations are being ensured a healthy and good environment, economic and social welfare and justice) (1). We believe that this important task given to our university by the swedish government and international organizations should be taken more seriously at LiU.
Some programs at LiU have a privilege, they get to learn about sustainability and climate change issues (e.g. Outdoor & Sustainability Education, Science for sustainable development, Sustainability Engineering and Management, Adult Learning and Global Change, Ecology and Environment, Miljövetare and Civilingenör energi-miljö-management). However, other programs, especially Bachelor programs, are lacking that knowledge and the opportunity to get involved with working towards a sustainable future. It is especially important to give younger students the possibility to get in touch with this topic, because it gives them a broader perspective for the choice of their Master program and their future career.
According to the swedish law, the högskolelagen 1 kap. 8 §:
"Utbildning på grundnivå ska utveckla studenternas
- förmåga att göra självständiga och kritiska bedömningar,
- förmåga att självständigt urskilja, formulera och lösa problem [...]"
(Education in undergraduate programs shall develop the students
-ability to make independent and critical judgements
-ability to independently find, formulate and solve problems.)
and the högskolelagen 1 kap. 9 §:
"Utbildning på avancerad nivå skall innebära fördjupning av kunskaper, färdigheter och förmågor i förhållande till utbildning på grundnivå och skall, utöver vad som gäller för utbildning på grundnivå,
- ytterligare utveckla studenternas förmåga att självständigt integrera och använda kunskaper,
- utveckla studenternas förmåga att hantera komplexa företeelser, frågeställningar och situationer [...]"
(Education in graduate programs shall include an intensification of knowledge, abilities and competencies compared to the undergraduate programs and shall, besides what applies to the undergraduate programs,
- even more develop the students ability to independently integrate and use their knowledge,
- develop the students ability to handle complex questions and situations.)
the university has to support students ability to judge critically, solve problems and handle complex questions and situations (1).
In order to fulfill this, we believe that our university needs to provide every student access to knowledge about sustainability and climate change, so that they can learn how to judge different voices about sustainability and climate change critically, solve sustainability and climate change related problems and cope with the complex question and situation that humanity faces in times of climate change. We need to learn the skills for our future and this is the universities task!
Furthermore, the university is responsible to implement its own research results according to högskolelagen 1 kap. 2 §: "I högskolornas uppgift ska det ingå att samverka med det omgivande samhället och informera om sin verksamhet samt verka för att forskningsresultat tillkomna vid högskolan kommer till nytta." (A part of the university's task shall be to cooperate with the surrounding society and inform about their work, as well as work for the implementation of the university's research results.) (1). Recently, 18 swedish researchers even publically demanded the universities to do their part in reducing their emissions (7). The university can only fulfill the tasks that were assigned to them by law if they make sure that the research results are implemented not only in the surrounding society but also inside the university itself. Making sure that these research results are being shared with the universities own students is a major part of that.
In view of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda, the university has a responsibility to fulfill - especially since Sweden aims to take a leading role in the fulfillment of the SDGs. We need everyone in order to create a more sustainable world. Especially young generations need the skills and knowledge to deal with a rapidly changing world.
WE THEREFORE DEMAND YOU:
- to seriously investigate how sustainability (and climate change) topics can be integrated in all your undergraduate, graduate and also PhD programs
- to make sure that by spring semester 2020, all undergraduate, graduate and PhD programs include teaching on sustainability and climate change topics
- in the following, we provide a list of possible ways to do that:
-e.g. general sustainability and climate change courses where students from different programs are mixed and they have to submit an assignment about how they can contribute to a more sustainable world using the knowledge they gain from their program
-e.g. include seminars and lectures on sustainability and climate change in every program
- we recommend to have every student that wants to graduate from a program prove that they have taken such a course before they are allowed to graduate
WE FURTHERMORE DEMAND:
That the university puts more pressure on teaching staff to take chances to educate themselves about sustainability and climate change topics:
- there is e.g. the Didacticum that offers courses on sustainability for teachers that does important work but sadly has very low attendance rates
(1) - SWEDISH LAW - http://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/hogskolelag-19921434_sfs-1992-1434
(2) https://unfccc.int/process/the-paris-agreement/what-is-the-paris-agreement Accessed on February 17, 2019.
(3) https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/ Accessed on February 17, 2019.
(4) https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/memberstates/sweden Accessed on February 17, 2019.
(5) https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg4 Accessed on February 17, 2019.
(6) https://en.unesco.org/themes/gced/sdg47progress Accessed on February 17, 2019.
(7) https://www.dn.se/debatt/universiteten-maste-sjalva-borja-klimatomstallningen/ Accessed on February 22, 2019.
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