The University of Turku emphasises sustainable development as a cross-cutting theme in all its activities. Sustainable development is one of the key themes of the University’s Strategy for 2021–2030. In promoting the actions towards sustainable development, active collaboration with stakeholders and partners is highlighted.
The vision of the University of Turku includes the ambition to proactively foster sustainable future. The sustainable development objectives and activities play an important role in realising this vision. The researchers at the multidisciplinary University of Turku actively conduct research related to sustainable development, and the University educates future experts for society.
– We want to build an operational culture where the principles of the ecological, social, economic, and cultural dimensions of sustainable development are realised in education, research, and our interaction with the different interest groups of society, tells Vice Rector Mika Hannula, who is the chair of the Steering Group for Sustainable Development.
The Steering Group develops, monitors, and evaluates the sustainable development activities of the University in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and promotes the realisation of the principles of sustainable development in the practical activities of the University. Practical measures are needed in e.g. reaching the goal of carbon neutrality.
– The University of Turku is committed to becoming carbon neutral by the end of 2025. This requires practical measures, and to plan and coordinate these, the Steering Group has set up a working group for carbon neutrality as well as for sustainable campus life, explains Head of Development Riitta Mustonen, who is the Vice Chair of the Steering Group.
Expanding Education in Sustainable Development
In addition to of the Steering Group for Sustainable Development, the Carbon Neutral Group, and the Sustainable Campus Life Working Group, a working group was also established in late 2020 to plan the integration of sustainable development in education.
– Expanding the education is one of the most important focal points of the work towards sustainable development. Our aim is to offer the students more opportunities to complete different types of studies on sustainable development. According to a student survey we completed together with the Student Union, the students are particularly hoping for stronger presence of sustainable development perspectives in the studies in their own field, tells the coordinator of the Sustainable Education working group Marjaana Suorsa, who has been appointed as the Project Manager for the University's sustainable development operations.
The starting point for the work of the Sustainable Education working group is recognising and strengthening the elements of sustainable development and their better presentation in the study guide for degree studies for the curriculum period 2022—2024.
Sustainable Development is Realised in Co-operation with Partners
The Chair of the Steering Group for Sustainable Development Mika Hannula and Vice Chair Riitta Mustonen emphasise that universities have a central role in advancing sustainable development in society. — Working together under Universities Finland UNIFI, the Finnish universities have published 12 shared theses for sustainable development and responsibility with the objective of raising the sustainability and responsibility activities of the universities to a new level. The University of Turku has had an active role in the sustainable development collaboration of the Finnish universities, Mustonen explains.
– Active and productive collaboration has transpired around sustainable development between universities and universities of applied sciences, both nationally and regionally. For example, the regional collaboration group of higher education institutions in the Turku region has appointed a working group on sustainable development. A concrete example of this collaboration is a course on sustainable development for the doctoral candidates organised together with Åbo Akademi University, says Project Manager Suorsa.
In the work towards sustainable development, other important partners of the University include regional operators and other interest groups and partners of the University.
– For example, with respect to our carbon neutrality goal, we are collaborating with the City of Turku in their ambitious and effective climate actions. In this and in many other goals related to sustainable development, we are conducting active co-operation with different actors, Vice Rector Hannula summarises.