Sustainability Days: New Working group focuses on sustainability awareness

Bringing sustainability into the consciousness of the university members - this is the goal of the newly founded Sustainability Working Group (AG). Students and doctoral candidates at the TU Ilmenau have joined forces in the working group in the Student Council (StuRa) to jointly implement initiatives for more sustainability on campus. The first project of the working group: the Sustainability Days. For two days, the WG members informed and discussed with interested students and employees about sustainability at the TU Ilmenau.

TU Ilmenau/Eleonora Hamburg
Students and doctoral candidates from various disciplines have joined forces in the Sustainability Working Group. Together they want to implement projects to make TU Ilmenau more sustainable.

Members of the TU Ilmenau had a comprehensive exchange about sustainability at the Sustainability Days. At information booths of student associations such as ISWI or Engineers without Borders, but also of the university, contact persons were available for two days to answer all questions about their commitment to sustainability. Two discussions on the topic of fair trade and sustainability at TU Ilmenau attracted interested parties to the BC Café and the Audimax. An online workshop by TU Ilmenau's health management on climate-neutral nutrition complemented the offerings. With a corner where visitors could take used clothing, the AG set an example for sustainable consumption. In addition, the cafeteria served only vegetarian and all-vegetable meals for the Sustainability Days period and provided education about the environmental and personal health impacts of producing and consuming animal products.

More flowering meadows on campus, car sharing, less paper, clothing swap and trash collection campaigns, or a larger selection of vegetarian dishes on the cafeteria menu - the AG wants to make TU Ilmenau more sustainable with small actions, as Jasmin Calmbach, doctoral student at the Department of Thermodynamics and AG member, explains:

'We want to make people aware of sustainability and show them simple ways in which we can mitigate climate change together. In the coming months, we want to implement many projects.

The new AG Nachhaltigkeit opens up more opportunities for students to implement projects for sustainability, as Anne Zerbst, head of the StuRa's department for sports, environment and health, explains:

At TU Ilmenau, there are many ideas and initiatives from students, including from the Sustainability Task Group. However, when they want to implement projects, they often lack the financial resources and the manpower. In the AG, many actors are now networked and we as StuRa can better support the students in their projects.

"Sharing ideas and getting people to participate".

Mira Rochyadi-Reetz, PhD student and research assistant at the Department of Empirical Media Research and Political Communication, is one of the initiators of the WG and also a member of the Task Group Sustainability. She has been involved in environmental protection for many years - until last year as a board member of BUND Ilm-Kreis. In discourse with members of the university, she would like to gather new ideas for more sustainability in teaching, research and administration:

The TU Ilmenau thrives on the cooperation of all university members. We as a community shape everyday university life, and we as a community can thus make it more sustainable with our daily decisions and behavior. In order to tackle this together, we all need to talk and discuss with each other, gather everyone's ideas and topics, and get everyone involved.

She was particularly pleased that many international students attended the events and shared their views on a more sustainable world. At the BC Café, students from Germany, but also India, Mexico or Cameroon came together to discuss global supply chains.

TU Ilmenau on the way to a Sustainable Community

At the panel discussion on the topic "TU Ilmenau in Transition: Science for a Sustainable Future", moderated by Netzwerk-n Deutschland, students and employees of TU Ilmenau came together in the Audimax. Participants discussed in a fishbowl format, where people from the audience could also join the discussion at any time.

Prof. Anja Geigenmüller, Vice President for Studies and Teaching, referred to the university's responsibility to implement sustainability in teaching and research:

In order to shape a sustainable world, appropriate knowledge and competencies are needed. Particularly as a technical university, we are called upon to impart this knowledge and competence. And this will turn us teachers into learners - we ourselves must understand what sustainability means in our respective disciplines in order to be able to provide graduates with the necessary technical depth and appropriate problem-solving skills.

Prof. Jens Wolling, Head of the Department of Empirical Media Research and Political Communication, praised the students' commitment. To make TU Ilmenau more sustainable, both the top-down and bottom-up approaches are needed, he emphasized. His department is currently conducting research on sustainability communication as part of the BMBF-funded joint project "KLIMA Network for More Sustainability in Thuringia." Prof. Wolling explains:

The necessary changes associated with sustainable development must be communicated well. With our project we want to find out what these communication processes should look like so that the transformation of university and society to more sustainability succeeds.

Sustainability Days at the TU Ilmenau