On 22 November 2023, oikos Graz organized a fishbowl talk on the question: "How can lecturers and students work together to integrate sustainability into all fields of education?". The event was part of the oikos Academy, a series of events hosted by oikos chapters all over the globe, bringing together different stakeholders who want to transform higher education. By enabling students to take ownership of their education, the program aims at making higher education future-ready, learner-driven, and regenerative.
Written by: oikos Graz
The oikos Academy supports student groups from different parts of the world challenging the status quo at their universities and invites their respective decision-makers to a collective learning space that leads to transformative outcomes, new commitments, and next steps. oikos Graz, which is a subchapter of the global student organization oikos International, hosted the talk and discussion with a clear vision: To address major global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity and resource loss, conflict, and poverty, we need sustainable action. That implies a re-orientation towards sustainable development at all levels, a development that satisfies current needs without risking future generations not being able to meet their own needs (Brundtland, 1987). Taking sustainable action means making our professional and private daily lives environmentally and socially compatible and initiating changes in our environment. An important approach to achieve this is education.
One of oikos’ main goals is to integrate sustainability into universities’ curricula. A handful of disciplines cannot solve the complexity of our economy and the world's current challenges. What we need is collaboration, interdisciplinary approaches, and responsible leadership. With Transforming Education, we set the focus where future leaders and managers are created – at universities – and address one of the main contributors to positive change – education.
Together with our experts (professors, researchers, students, and activists), we discussed the role higher education plays in driving the transformation toward a sustainable future and how we can implement changes at our university to amplify our impact. We explored how we can incorporate learning about sustainability into all fields of education. No matter whether we talk about physics, linguistics, or law: We need everyone to achieve a change!
The event was held in a fishbowl format to ensure everyone could participate in the discussion, meaning that the experts did not sit on a stage. Instead, a circle of chairs with several rows was set up, with the experts and the moderator seated in the middle. Two free chairs in the middle allowed the audience to join the inner circle for a while if they had any questions or wanted to actively participate in the discussion.
The event took place in person at the University of Graz and was streamed via Zoom to reach a wider audience and raise awareness about this important topic. After the talk, participants, experts, and activists stayed for informal discussions and a vegan buffet with drinks and homemade snacks prepared by the oikos students.
Even now, the event continues to have a strong positive impact: We will share the ideas and learnings of the discussion with the sustainability department of the University of Graz to support the university on its path to becoming a climate-neutral university by 2040. A blog post on our website for everyone curious about the learnings of the event is coming soon! Follow us on our Social Media channels to find more information about our talk with discussion and upcoming events: www.instagram.com, www.facebook.com/oikosgraz, oikosgraz.org