14 November 2022

How can university campuses become climate-neutral? Students from different parts of Europe came together to address this question in the first ECIU Strategic Challenge. One of them was Juliane Maria Kraskes from the master’s programme Science for Sustainable Development at Linköping University.

Autumn at the Campus Valla and bikes.
Green laboratories, increasing biodiversity, and strengthening education in sustainable development. Those are some areas where LiU should do more, according to Juliane Maria Kraskes who investigated how campuses can become climate-neutral. Teiksma Buseva

“Participating in the project and working in a multicultural team definitely challenged my creativity. I improved my time- and project-management skills. Regarding the topic of the challenge and the results, what I learned – or let’s say was reminded of – is that there is never only one solution or right idea to a problem. There’s usually a spider’s web of solutions that together lead to the goal,” says Juliane Maria Kraskes.

Eight European master’s students worked together

The strategic challenge was a part of the ECIU University, an EU-funded initiative in which 12 innovative universities together form a virtual university. Eight master’s students from Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Lithuania, Norway, Ireland, and Germany worked together on the challenge “Climate neutral campus in Europe”. At the same time, they were working on their individual master’s theses.

Portrait of young woman wearing a flower wreathJuliane Maria Kraskes studied the international master’s programme Science for Sustainable Development at LiU. Photo credit Private Juliane Maria Kraskes had not heard of the ECIU before she read about the project, but she liked the idea of people from different countries with different backgrounds working together.

“I think different perspectives and ideas are essential for tackling a challenge such as the climate crisis.”

Her team examined the integrity and transparency of university sustainability and climate-action plans. Other groups investigated sustainable travel choices for students and reduced CO2 emissions.

Participating was an interesting and challenging experience, says Juliane Maria Kraskes.

“The teams were divided mainly based on thesis topic, which made it easier to agree upon an actionable challenge. It was less simple to set up meetings, since everyone was working on their own thesis and had a different time schedule. We communicated mainly over WhatsApp.”

People in staircaseEarly in the spring of 2022, the teams met in Hamburg. Photo credit Hamburg University of Technology Early in the spring of 2022, the teams had the opportunity to meet at Hamburg University of Technology. They presented their results at the beginning of the summer.

No common standard for sustainable campus development

In her thesis, Juliane Maria Kraskes shows that university strategies recognise and address sustainable development as elements of their courses of action. However, there is no common standard on how and to what extent this must be addressed, and barriers prevent an even stronger commitment.

What measures could Linköping University take to become climate-neutral?

“I think the obvious measures, such as switching to renewable energy, reducing travel, and green procurement, are clear to LiU. In my opinion, further measures should be taken especially in the areas of green laboratories, increasing biodiversity, and strengthening education in sustainable development.”

Juliane Maria Kraskes is now back in her home country Germany. She will start work in December in a company that plans ground-mounted photovoltaic systems.

“In the future I hope to work more with education for sustainable development, as I find this to be an essential part of the transformation process towards a sustainable society and future.”

Take a look at the master's programme

Why did you choose Sweden and LiU?

Juliane Maria Kraskes:

“Firstly, I think the study system in Scandinavia is great. Secondly, I liked the study content of the Science for Sustainable Development programme and the fact that it’s interdisciplinary. Furthermore, LiU has a good reputation, and I found that it certainly lives up to it.”

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