University of Mannheim: University alliance is committed to reducing emissions and expanding educational opportunities in the field of climate change

The U7 + Alliance, a coalition of international universities, made a declaration at the COP26 conference in Glasgow to support the implementation of the climate goals. The rectors of 29 universities from 12 countries, including Prof. Dr. Thomas Puhl, Rector of the University of Mannheim, said the alliance recognizes that climate change is a global challenge, a serious threat to the environment, human health, security and economic stability. The participating universities therefore saw it as their common task to master these challenges by taking the lead in the areas of education, research and innovation.

“Universities are of particular importance, but also have a responsibility,” says Prof. Dr. Thomas Puhl. “We are at the interface of different disciplines and generations, are internationally networked and have the necessary scientific knowledge. Therefore we can and must make the achievement of the climate targets our topic and enable our students to cope with future challenges. “

The undersigned universities reaffirmed their commitment to two measures that were already decided at the first U7 + summit in Paris in 2019: On the one hand, they want to ensure that all students can take courses in the areas of sustainability, climate and biodiversity. On the other hand, the members of the alliance committed themselves to reducing university greenhouse gas emissions. The University of Mannheim starts at various points in order to achieve these goals: Sustainability is established as a central topic in the courses offered by the European University ENGAGE.EU. Within the university, structures were created with the new Vice Rector for Sustainability and Information Supply and the Sustainability Working Group in order to anchor the topic in the long term.2 -footprint of the university is to be determined. The results will be used to develop a university-wide climate strategy.

In its declaration, the U7 + Alliance also emphasizes that it is particularly important to involve young people more in future in order to master the challenges of climate change. In this sense, the results of the “U7 + Worldwide Student Forum 2021”, which took place online in the previous months organized by University College London, were incorporated into the declaration.

Student summit provides ideas for educational offers in the field of sustainability

As part of the forum, the students developed recommendations for action and ideas on how the challenges of climate change can be tackled from a cross-generational perspective. For example, in their final reports, students recommend that universities include compulsory courses in their curricula to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Universities also need to find ways to network academic, corporate and political stakeholders on the topic of climate change. The students also see the easily understandable communication of research results as a central task: They demand that complex scientific findings are communicated in such a way that their relevance for all population groups is evident.

94 student delegates representing 24 universities in the U7 + alliance took part in the forum. The two psychology students Hannah Bohrer and Paula Roth as well as the political students Moritz Büchler and Marco Rupp worked for the University of Mannheim. Rupp, who is also a member of the six-person Student Leadership Board that represents the students vis-à-vis the U7 + Alliance, sees great potential in the international student forum: To advance universities and the generations, thereby promoting sustainability. We have to bundle the many different cultural, geographical, academic and university approaches and thus make ourselves heard. “


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