What we can do as individuals in co-participation bodies
With the third meeting cycle in the University Council about to start, I would like to take you back to the past cycle, when I discussed two major topics: sustainability and wellbeing.
As a new council member, I think it is great to be able to show that we are making steps to create a more sustainable university. We are planning similar steps on the topic of student wellbeing as well!
Starting with the latter, together with council members Kate Willey (DSP), Harold Janssen (ONS) and Laurence Fierens (CSL), I have had multiple meetings on the topic of (student) wellbeing. One of these meetings was an informative conversation with the head of the Students Support Services, Willemijn Nieuwenhuys, and our new Wellbeing Officer, Angela van der Lans. They are preparing an online wellbeing event that will last for a month! We looked into how we can emphasize the importance of wellbeing in co-participation bodies on all levels of co-participation within our university.
Let’s talk sustainability
On the 27th of November, we launched a co-hosted event with the Leiden University Green Office (LUGO). This insightful afternoon provided us with a lot of inspiration on what steps we can take now and in the future regarding sustainability at our University. Launching the sustainability and co-participation conference event has shown the many possibilities we as co-participation bodies have. We can include and emphasize the important topics in our university. With at least 40 participants who were either in the OLCs, Faculty Councils or the University Council we had passionate discussions on what co-participation bodies can undertake to make the necessary changes needed for a sustainable university.
Before dividing ourselves into two break out rooms we were first inspired by Sanli Faez, Assistant Professor from Utrecht University in Physics. Sanli emphasized the importance of focussing on the collective effort of the entire university. He illustrated that when faculties, programs or other bodies work interdisciplinarily to achieve certain innovations, the collective effort will give way to surprising effective innovations for now and for the future. The university is a centre of knowledge, especially regarding sustainability. Sanli stated that we have a responsibility to communicate and act on this knowledge through teaching and innovation.
Sustainability: how to move forward
After this inspiring talk we split into two groups and discussed how we should move forward. With faculty and university council members we discussed best practices, places in the university where it is easy to implement environmental initiatives and how we can achieve these goals through cooperation.
With the OLCs we discussed the possibilities of implementing knowledge of sustainability in program curricula of the university. It might seem hard to implement sustainability topics in certain curricula. However, at the end of the event we all agreed that that mindset does injustice to the possibilities and wishes of many students. There are many other ways to introduce students and staff to topics on sustainability.
Luckily, this one conference was not the end of the debate on sustainability and co-participation. If you want to read more into the specific topics that were discussed, you can always contact the University Council or LUGO. Last but not least, LUGO has launched a Sustainability Network Channel on Teams. Anyone can join and share their ideas and collaborate with each other in order to be one community of sustainable thought. And as always, feel free to approach University Council members like myself if you have an idea about creating a more sustainable university!
I wish you a wonderful new year!