From Outreach to Partnership: defining the role of universities in achieving sustainability
Societies will have to change dramatically if the world is to have a sustainable future. Universities must become more than merely providers of knowledge; they will have to become more proactive, taking advantage of their political and economic neutrality to become engines of change in partnership with policy, industry and society.
The AGS convened a workshop dialogue at the ETH to discuss how universities and researchers can improve their partnerships with non-academic stakeholders in order to drive progress towards sustainability. The workshop was hosted by the ETH Domain Competence Centre Environment and Sustainability with ETH Sustainability. 70 participants from the ETH, the research institutes WSL and Eawag, and the other AGS partners, together with invited participants from external partner organizations, discussed how researchers and external partners can better initiate and maintain partnerships that really implement the results of vitally needed research on environment and sustainability.
The workshop recommendations cover new research models, new teaching models, better ways of doing outreach within existing project management, and new roles for centers such as the CCES. Participants felt that to really get incentives for change we need a cultural change within universities, as well as working on more capacity for better partnerships. An example of a lesson learned is that academics must be clear about their goals vis-à-vis external partners, so that the exchange can bring greater value to both rather than just eating up more time and capacity.
The dialogue will be continued, and the results of the workshop are being developed into a publication and a working paper.
Urban Futures: the Challenge of Sustainability
The AGS Annual Meeting 2009 was held at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, in January, focused on Urban Futures. In keynote talks, panel discussions, workshops and poster sessions the dimensions of the challenge were explored. Topics included energy governance, urban ecology, architecture for the open city, size, shape and sustainability of cities, options for pro-poor urban development, transforming the building stock for sustainability, and whether more mobility increases happiness.
The conference offered a forum for perspectives from public and
private stakeholders as well as academia, including UN perspectives on
challenges and opportunities for academia, visions from a leading
company implementing sustainable city development projects worldwide,
and the initiator of an NGO creating self-help communities using
innovative bottom-up construction methods.
Link to webcasts, presentations, programme and posters>>
World Student Community for Sustainable Development
Each AGS university has held a seminar on Urban Futures, and all the webcasts are available on the AGS website>>
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