"With sustainability out of the crisis?": Scientific Year „Sustainability“ kicks off with a science forum

With the Scientific Year „Sustainability“  and the establishment of a Sustainability Task Group, TU Ilmenau is intensifying its activities on the way to becoming a "Sustainable Community". Prof. Jens Wolling explained the opportunities that more sustainability holds for the university at the start of the theme year.

TU Ilmenau/Eleonora Hamburg
Prof. Jens Wolling opened the Scientific Year „Sustainability“.

Shortage of raw materials, rising energy costs, climate change - against the backdrop of numerous current crises, the know-how of science is more in demand than ever for the preservation of our natural foundations of life. With the extensive expertise of its researchers in fields such as industrial production, energy technology or computer science, TU Ilmenau feels responsible for responding to the challenges of our time with technological solutions.

In the Scientific Year „Sustainability“, the university bundles its activities in this field and presents research projects related to sustainability to a broad public. Prof. Stefan Sinzinger, Vice President for Research and Young Scientists, and Prof. Jens Wolling, Head of the Media Research and Political Communication Group, now opened the theme year in the TU Ilmenau Audimax with a science forum entitled "With Sustainability out of the Crisis".

Prof. Wolling, a renowned communication scientist, has been working on sustainability communication for years. With the aim of finding out to what extent sustainability is anchored in teaching and research at the TU Ilmenau, he interviewed deans of the university's five faculties in the run-up to the theme year and presented the findings of his work in the Audimax:

Fortunately, sustainability is integrated into both teaching and research at TU Ilmenau. For example, one third of all research projects have a reference to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). However, other terms such as resource conservation are often used. A lot is being done in terms of sustainability and little is being communicated

,notes the communication scientist.

Chance to attract students

Is it worthwhile for the TU Ilmenau to position itself more strongly in sustainability? Prof. Wolling concurred with the deans' opinion and answered the question with a clear "yes".

From my point of view, universities that offer a lot in terms of sustainability have a competitive advantage. Many prospective students want to change the world for the better and participate in solving important human tasks such as climate change. These values play a major role in their decision to study. Putting sustainability at the center opens up many opportunities for us as a university. This includes attracting third-party funding as well as the opportunity to inspire students to study technology and the natural sciences.

The desire to move together into a more sustainable future toward a "Sustainable Community" was also expressed by faculty, researchers and students during an open Q&A session following Prof. Wolling's input. They made suggestions for car-sharing services on campus and an energy-saving day at TU Ilmenau, or questioned air travel for short stays abroad to attend conferences, for example. Prof. Sinzinger encouraged the members of the TU Ilmenau in their efforts and encouraged them to pursue their ideas and initiatives for more sustainability:

The path towards a 'Sustainable Community' is a long process that we can only walk together.

"KLIMA" network for more sustainability

As part of the project "KLIMA Network for More Sustainability in Thuringia. Education for Sustainable Development", which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, scientists at Prof. Jens Wolling's Group are investigating how the changes required for a "Sustainable Community" can be promoted through communication and realized in practice. To this end, a Sustainability Communication Unit (ANK) is being established at TU Ilmenau. The ANK will record, analyze, support and further develop the communication processes that are necessary for a successful transformation of the participating universities towards more sustainability. The cooperation of the participating Thuringian universities aims at transforming all areas of university activity (teaching, research, transfer, governance and operation) and making them comprehensively sustainable.

Impressions of the Scientific Forum


Prof. Jens Wolling

Head of the Media Research and Political Communication Group