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A few weeks ago we had our third Green Drinks event. The theme of the evening was: sustainability and education. Rene Kleijn, professor at the CML Institute, opened our event with a short but pungent speech about his opinion regarding sustainability at the university. After his speech, all the attendees were divided in small groups to give their opinion on different topics concerning sustainability in education, so the LUGO could gather some insights about the views and needs of the students.

Two topics were discussed at the event. The first topic was: Is it the duty of the universities to incorporate sustainability in studies? It was interesting to see that some of the groups had totally opposing views on this topic. With some of the groups it was immediately clear that this question should be answered with a “yes” while other groups thought people should already have a sufficient knowledge of sustainability when they get to the university. Therefore, it should be taught in preschool or high school. One of the groups engaged on a more abstract level and discussed in what way sustainability differs from other global issues such as poverty and inequality, and to what extent all three should be taught at university.

There were also groups who answered ‘yes’ to the question. It was agreed that sustainability should be integrated in the basic curriculum for students, as it will otherwise only attract students who are already interested. If it is not possible to integrate sustainability in the curriculum (on short term), it should be provided as an elective, but there should be some extra external motivation to take these electives. For examples, students could be motivated by granting them a green note on their diploma if they follow enough sustainability electives.

The second topic discussed was: How can we connect and integrate sustainability initiatives within the university? The opinions on this matter were less divers. Most of the groups came up with at least one of the two following ideas: there should be a low key possibility to find and join sustainable initiatives in Leiden and the Hague and a larger event should be organised which brings interested staff members and students together. A few ideas for the low key event came up: for example there could be a physical wall where people can hang their ideas and call for help with projects, and an online Facebook group for green initiatives that everybody can join. LUGO really liked both of the ideas and our media coordinator has set up this online Facebook group: Sustainable Ideas and Initiatives Leiden – Den Haag.

Ideas for an event are a green fair with different stands or a round tables event where also staff members or the municipality can join. The most important part of these events, a point that came up with all the groups, was that it should be fun to join. We will keep that in mind!

After the last topic we16299007_605086036367397_8957200608884035561_n had a few drinks to brainstorm some more about sustainability at the university and to get to know each other better. If you have some ideas that you would like to share with us, please contact us at info@leidenuniversitygreenoffice.nl or meet us at our next green drinks on the 9th of march. Hope to see you there!