A FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1600 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105
Comments & questions to:
World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities
June 5-6, 2012
On June 5 and 6, 2012, representatives from schools in twenty-six countries came together in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to discuss sustainability in institutions of higher education. The event, the “World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities” (WSSD-U-2012), was an official parallel conference to the larger Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Macalester College sent two representatives to attend the WSSD-U-2012: Sustainability Manager Suzanne Savanick Hansen and student Maria Langholz.
The “World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities” (WSSD-U-2012) aimed to:
- provide universities all around the world with an opportunity to present their research relate to education for sustainable development at university level;
- foster the exchange of information, ideas and experiences acquired from successful initiatives and best practices;
- discuss methodological approaches and projects which aim to integrate the topic of sustainable development in the curriculum of universities;
- offer networking for the participants and provide a platform for possible cooperation.
The WSSD-U-2012 was organized in two main strands:
- Displays: Participating universities and organizations displayed posters describing their works and projects. The displays allowed for close, one-to-one contact between participants and exhibitors.
- Presentations: A set of presentations on the implementation of sustainable development was organized. Plenary and breakout sessions included the themes: Curriculum, Campus Activities, and Research/Outreach Programs.
Members of university administrations, teaching staff, research staff, student groups, and project officers and consultants all shared their expertise. This multi-faceted group of individuals helped to frame the need for integrated approaches towards sustainable development in higher education.
Outcomes of the Event:
- One of the key messages from WSSD-U-2012 is that universities should make firm commitments at the institutional level and that researchers ensure they document, record and disseminate their work nationally and internationally, networking themselves and supporting each other. In doing so, they can measure progress and assess the extent to which things are improving over time.
- The book “Sustainable Development at Universities: New Horizons” will be launched in September 2012 as Volume 34 of the series “Environmental Education, Communication and Sustainability” (started in 1998). This book will disseminate the work performed by attendees to WSSD-U-2012.
- The 2nd World Sustainable Development Teach-In Day will be held on Friday, February 8, 2013, with the presentations made by authors who attended WSSD-U-2012. The event, which follows on the success of the first Sustainable Development Teach-In Day in 2010, will engage thousands of students from across the world. Details can be seen at: www.world-sustainability-day.net
- The Second World Symposium at Sustainable Development at Universities will be held in London, UK, in June 2014 (WSSD-U-2014).
Macalester College Sustainability Office Outcomes:
The Sustainability Office plans to maintain and expand upon the connections created at the WSSD-U-2012. The event helped to illustrate the universal nature of many of the problems that are faced when addressing sustainability issues. Therefore, work should not be done alone, in isolation from others doing the same tasks and working through the same issues, but rather information sharing and collaborative efforts should be practiced.
The Sustainability Office plans to:
- Use the World Sustainable Development Teach-In Day theme, “Sustainable Development: towards local solutions to a global challenge” (www.world-sustainability-day.net) as the office theme for the 2012-2013 academic year.
- Use the critical issues identified by the United Nations Rio + 20 event as the office monthly themes for the 2012-2013 academic year.
Participate in the World Sustainable Development Teach-In Day (February 8, 2013), “Sustainable Development: towards local solutions to a global challenge” (www.world-sustainability-day.net).
Present information about the Rio +20 conference and WSSD-U-2012 through talks, a website, and material for interested faculty to include in classes.
Develop regular student, and possibly staff, Skype conversations related to campus sustainability with international colleagues.
- September - Cities
- October - Food
- November - Water/Oceans
- December - Disasters
- February - Energy
- March - Waste
- April - Jobs
Video about the World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities (WSSD-U-2012), 5- 6 June 2012, prepared by Francisco Bucchi (Chile).
WSSD-U-2012 Event Information and Follow-up:
Rio+20 Home: www.uncsd2012.org/
Maastricht University (Netherlands) Students’ Account of WSSD-U-2012: greenofficemaastricht.nl/rio-2012/