Furtwangen University has divided its sustainability activities into various areas in accordance with its mission statement. It focuses in particular on "University operations", the best proof of this being the successful EMAS environmental certification. Additional activities which will be expanded further in the future, involve teaching and research, transfer and governance.
In April 2016 Furtwangen University became certified under the EMAS Eco-Management and Audit Scheme and has been registered under number DE-169-000 in the EMAS Register since 10 May, 2016.
EMAS is a voluntary environmental management tool set up under the aegis of the European Commission. Its objective is to improve the environmental performance of organisations by having them commit to both the evaluation and reduction of their environmental impact, and continual improvement of their environmental performance. More about the EMAS directive can be found here.
Because Furtwangen University was already strongly committed to the idea of sustainability before becoming certified by EMAS, and sustainable practices were already being implemented in many areas of the university, it was decided to integrate the EMAS process into their sustainability management. The EMAS certification is a milestone in the long-term sustainability strategy of the University.
The goal of integrating sustainable development into teaching means training those with a responsible and can-do attitude for HFU, who have creative and reflective skills and the will and ability to change society.
Through innovative teaching methods, HFU encourages active and interdisciplinary involvement in social processes and current issues of ecology and social justice.
Our research approach in the area of sustainability is aimed mainly at the cooperation of various disciplines within the framework of inter- and transdisciplinary research projects. The "Transformative and Public Science" (Prof. Dr. Stefan Selke) research professorship builds bridges between the factual and normative levels of sustainable development.
It places HFU's responsibility to society as a public university in the centre – across all disciplines and faculties.
The Institute for Applied Research (IAF) plays an active role in this context. The "Environmental Systems Technology" and "Innovation and Gender Research" fields of research and the new research focus of "Society, Health and Sustainability" in particular, have a strong connection to the guiding principle of sustainable development.
The operation of the University can become more sustainable if material and non-material resources are systematically monitored. The question is what the University can do today so that all necessary resources are available tomorrow. It is possible to look at this from three perspectives: economic, social and and ecological. The economic perspective ensures the performance of the University, the social perspective looks at the development of considerate and socially acceptable relationships within the University and the ecological perspective looks at the effect of the organization on nature. These influences specifically are being dealt with at HFU.
The EMAS certification is the first step in the long road to a sustainable university. EMAS helps HFU to enter the cyclical system of continual improvement.
Furtwangen University wishes to promote the exchange of its sustainable development knowledge in the form of transfer (communication). This means that accomplishments and innovations generated in the area of sustainable development should be competently communicated to the public. This also means that findings and investigations which take place outside the university, will in turn be communicated to us. This give and take is based on internal and external communication carried out in part, through the active updating of university networks, the public relations activities of our Office, and through student projects and workshops.
All of the above-mentioned activities (teaching, research, operations, transfer) can only be dealt with if a functioning sustainability management system is in place. This explains the fifth area of activity, "Governance". This makes sure for example that sustainability is one of the guiding principles of the University which can therefore be used as a basis for action. It also ensures that resources are made available so that a system of sustainability management can be set up and operated. In doing so Furtwangen University has set up the Centre for Sustainable Development and created the position of Senate Representative for Sustainable Development. It is also important that committee work is carried out so that sustainability remains an integral part of every discussion.