WU’s contributions to responsibility and sustainability

WU sees itself as a responsible university and is an active citizen. In teaching, research, university management and Third Mission, sustainability and responsibility play a crucial role. WU’s Competence Center for Sus­tain­ab­il­ity is a net­work­ing plat­form as well as a ser­vice pro­vider for WU’s internal and external stakeholders. The center sup­ports people and pro­cesses con­trib­ut­ing to sus­tain­ab­il­ity. This in­cludes fac­ulty, ad­min­is­trat­ive staff, and of course stu­dents. Two examples for WU’s commitment for sustainability are our engagement in the Alliance of Sustainable Universities in Austria and the manifold events we organize in order to contribute to the scientific and societal discourse on sustainability issues.

WU is an active member of the Alliance of Sustainable Universities in Austria. This alliance was founded in 2012 as an informal network that aims at promoting sustainability issues in Austrian universities and thus to contribute to a sustainable society. Currently eleven Austrian universities are members of this network. Through its common appearance, the Alliance strengthens sustainability issues and provides added motivation to its members to integrate sustainability at their institutions and adds support to their efforts. The main objectives of the alliance are to exchange good and best practice-experiences and to start joint activities in fields such as research, teaching, operations, and Third Mission.

Sustainability Strategies

A main success of the Alliance was that each participating university committed itself to developing a sustainability strategy. This aim was defined in the performance agreements for 2013 to 2015 that each university negotiates with the Austrian ministry for science, research and economy. These strategies include specific objectives and measures to promote sustainability. Working groups of the alliance work on various issues related to sustainability at universities, for example CO2-reduction, sustainable mobility, education for sustainable development, sustainable procurement, sustainability entrepreneurship, and environmental management.

Currently, the alliance is, in cooperation with the Austrian ministry for science, research and economy, setting up a project on the relevance of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for universities. The purpose is to coordinate and strengthen the contribution of universities to fulfill Austria’s commitment to the SDGs. The SDGs are also part of other activities of WU, among which the many events on responsibility and sustainability topics that are taking place at WU. For example, WU organized, along with the student organization oikos, a conference on the SDGs, including contributions of key actors of the Austrian discourse on the SDGs.

Events and event series organized by the Competence Center for Sustainabilty are a major contribution of WU to debates on sustainability and responsibility. The flagship series is “WU-SustainabilityControversies” (WU-NachhaltigkeitsKontroversen) which has attracted nearly 2500 guests so far. The name of this series of dis­cus­sions reflects what it is all about: It aims to add controversy to the pub­lic de­bate about sus­tain­ab­il­ity, which can be un­pro­duct­ive and bor­ing at times. Many international renowned speakers have appeared in this series, including Eva Horn, Beate Littig, Robert Pfaller, Timothy Snyder, and Harald Welzer. Topics covered so far include the sharing economy, participation, post-growth issues, sustainable work and the relevance of history for discourses about the future.

Deep Drillings

The ser­ies of talks named “Deep Drillings” (“Tiefen­bo­hrungen: Wirtschaft anders den­ken”) aims to address key eco­nomic is­sues and ap­proaches to far-reach­ing, crit­ical scru­tiny. It is one of the main goals of the ser­ies to put the lime­light on non-­main­stream dis­courses and devel­op­ments in economics and busi­ness. It also in­tends to show that eco­nomic phenom­ena and their study do not ex­ist in a va­cuum, but are deeply embed­ded into a so­cial and norm­at­ive con­text. The ser­ies is or­gan­ized jointly by the WU Com­pet­ence Center for Sus­tain­ab­il­ity, the Cath­olic So­cial Academy of Aus­tria (ksoe), the Cor­por­ate Re­spons­ib­il­ity In­ter­face Center (CRIC), and the In­sti­tute of Chris­tian Philo­sophy of the Uni­versity of Vi­enna.

It takes a crit­ical look at the clas­sics of eco­nom­ics and cer­tain eco­nomic is­sues and seeks to ex­plore their full scope and im­plic­a­tions. As far as the contribution of econom­ists is concerned, the series sets out to put their pos­i­tions, the­or­ies, and ar­gu­ments in a broader con­text. It in­tends to spark a dis­cus­sion of the views of the hu­man be­ing and so­ci­ety that un­der­lie the as­sump­tions and the­or­ies relevant in economic discourses. Topics covered in this series include the work of Mill, Marx, Schumpeter, Keynes, and Hayek as well as economic ethics and feminist economics.

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