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The University of Freiburg is launching an interdisciplinary teaching program on sustainable development

“Sustainability Certificate” will begin in the 2021/2022 winter semester

Freiburg, Oct 07, 2021

The University of Freiburg is launching an interdisciplinary teaching program on sustainable development

Photo: Harald Neumann

In the 2021/22 winter semester, the University of Freiburg will launch the "Sustainability Certificate: interdisciplinary, reflective, practical" - a voluntary course for students of all disciplines. In seminars, lectures and practical courses, they can deal with sustainability issues in an interdisciplinary way and receive up to 14 ECTS credits for this. “Joint, interdisciplinary thinking and action is essential to strengthen sustainable development both scientifically and practically - with the certificate, we also want to embed it in our teaching,” explains Prof. Dr. Michael Schwarze, Vice-President for Academic Affairs.

Public online lecture series 

A core element of the program is the online series "Everything in View? series of lectures on interdisciplinary sustainability", which runs throughout the semester and is also open to the public. In this series, Freiburg researchers offer insights into different areas of sustainability. The first lecture will be given by Prof. Dr. Daniela Kleinschmit, Vice-President for Internationalization and Sustainability at the University of Freiburg and Lora Guyzeleva, Sustainability Manager at the University on October 20, 2021 at 6:00 pm. They will speak on the “Sustainability Discourse in Transition” as well as on sustainability projects at the University.

The series will continue weekly, always on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. Other topics include "Green Chemistry, Sustainable Pharmacy", "Use of Ecosystems between Demand and Reality" or "Governance for Sustainability". Some of the lectures will be held in tandem format, with two experts from different disciplines speaking on a topic from their respective perspectives. For example, Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Henning, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, with the topic “Ways to a climate-neutral energy supply” meets Dr. Philipp Späth and his question “Is the turnaround in energy policy fair?” And on the topic of economics and climate change, Prof. Dr. Lars Feld, Director of the Walter Eucken Institut in Freiburg, will present “economic paths to effective climate protection,” while Prof. Dr. Nina Degele from the Institute of Sociology will offer a perspective critical of capitalism on the externalization of social and environmental costs to the economic system.

“Basic Research Approaches to Sustainable Development.”

In the winter semester, students can also participate in the basic course “Sustainability - interdisciplinary and reflexive.” Students from different disciplines will come together in interdisciplinary groups to collaborate on regional sustainability challenges. In particular, the active participation and collaboration of the participants is in the foreground. Among other things, participants develop their own visions of sustainable development, learn methods to promote interdisciplinary group work, and strengthen their reflexivity, for example in questioning personal and scientific assumptions. “This is about basic research approaches for sustainable development,” says Prof. Dr. Daniela Kleinschmit, Vice-President for Internationalization and Sustainability at the University of Freiburg. “Here, students learn to link their different subject perspectives and jointly develop interdisciplinary solution strategies.”

Initiative came from the “Sustainability Office” at the University of Freiburg

The Sustainability Certificate and the course offering were developed on the initiative of the student sustainability office, jointly by the Center for Key Qualifications, the Office of Safety, Environment and Sustainability, and a program advisory board with scientific experts from the faculties and student representatives. The student representation of the University of Freiburg (StuRa) is financing the project. "Almost all faculties participate in the certificate program with contributions - this has never happened before at the university," explain Dr. Jürgen Steck, project manager and Head of the Safety, Environment and Sustainability Office, and Verena Saller from the Center for Key Qualifications, who jointly manage the project.

"It's great to see that the Sustainability Certificate is now taking off at the University of Freiburg, thereby turning an idea that a few dedicated students started pursuing almost four years ago into a reality,” says Paulina Aue on behalf of the Freiburg Sustainability Office initiative. “Our goal was to give all students, regardless of the department, the opportunity to deal with future-based issues and sustainability challenges as part of their studies.”


The “Sustainability Certificate” Website (in German)


Pressphoto for download
Photo: Harald Neumann / University of Freiburg


Christoph Pfisterer
Project coordinator Sustainability Certificate
Center for Key Qualifications (ZfS)
University of Freiburg
Tel.: 0761/203-97587

Bastian Strauch
Office of University and Science Communications
University of Freiburg
Tel.: 0761/203-4301