RSM: Given the unique geographical and economic context of EUR, how should the university position itself in the sustainability landscape?
AKS: The challenges bought on by climate change are at our doorstep – literally. A sustainable school is diverse and accessible, and needs to lead by example, and acknowledge the complexities embedded in transitioning towards a sustainable future. The Netherlands flourished because of their success in taming nature and in multiplying agricultural efficiency. The change, needed for climate change adaptation and mitigation, will however require the Netherlands to reconsider these foundations of the country’s economy and culture. Our institutions should serve as hubs of open dialogue, to discuss the dilemmas surrounding this transition and to implement climate actions on our campuses and within our walls.
What defines a sustainable school, and how can EUR and RSM embody this definition?
A sustainable school isn’t just about eco-friendly practices; it's about social responsibility. It addresses global issues like poverty and inequality that result from climate change. It fosters diversity, fights misinformation and undergoes its own transformation before encouraging change to others. A sustainable school equips students with skills relevant to diverse business models, prioritises environmental impact in decision-making and promotes sustainability in research, engagement and teaching.
Highlighting key areas for improvement, what specific focus should EUR and RSM look at in these dialogues to enhance sustainability?
Three crucial areas demand attention. First, we plan to discuss whether the introduction of carbon budgets for departments, increasingly reducing emissions over time, should be an imperative. Second, we will look at engagement with companies and how that should align with sustainable business models defined by science-based targets. Third, we will explore how teaching should empower students to initiate societal change and prepare them for the challenges posed by climate change and other critical issues.
What do you hope participants get out of the Sustainability Dialogues?
I hope that these dialogues spark discussions that lead to impactful changes. It's important to recognise the urgency of climate change and implement substantive measures rather than surface-level gestures. I would like to see this be a call to action for our community.
Would you like to add anything further on the potential of EUR and RSM in embracing sustainability?
Can we be pioneers in this movement? Can we transition from a fossil fuel-funded institution to a future-proof school dedicated to studying societal questions and driving behavioural change towards sustainability? That's the school I envision, and teaching at such an institution would be a source of tremendous pride. Let's lead the change we wish to see in the world!
Come support RSM in their dialogue, Sustainability at RSM: from words to action, on Thursday, 23 November from 12:00-14:00 at the Erasmus Enterprise building on campus Woudestein. Register here while space is still available.