The University of Strasbourg was already committed to the fight against global warming, but is now accelerating its green transition policy. A round-up of the strategies being deployed.
In 2021, the university demonstrated its determination to embark on a green transition with the introduction of the post of Vice-President for Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility, backed by a new department. Approved in December 2022 by the university’s board, a route map sets out several concrete actions: raising awareness of environmental issues amongst students and staff, development of research linked to sustainable development, a policy for energy bill reduction and a vast evaluation of the university’s carbon footprint.
Aware that the success of a plan to reduce consumption relies on the engagement of its members, the university ultimately plans to train all students and staff in the challenges of the green transition. From the autumn term of 2024, undergraduates will be trained in the physico-chemical phenomena of climate change, its impact on life on earth and societies, the actions that can limit the rise in temperatures, etc.
Since 2018, one of the key disciplines at the university, Complex Systems Chemistry (CSC), has benefited from an innovative graduate school training brilliant students from masters to doctorate level in fields linked to sustainable development. For instance, CSC has led to disruptive innovations in sustainable, biodegradable and self-repairing materials. The young researchers are trained in academic research, but also in the issues of concern to companies, as a means of training the future scientific executives for our industries to find concrete solutions supporting sustainable development
In March 2023 the university also began a campaign to raise awareness of eco-friendly behaviour in order to trigger a change in habits. For each activity (event, symposium, trip, research project, etc) the environmental impact and energy consumption will be taken into account.
Finally, scientific research linked to sustainable development has a key role to play in providing long-term solutions. The president of the university, Michel Deneken, emphasises the institution’s importance as a major player in the energy transition: “The university must be the spearhead for tomorrow’s solutions: attentive to the needs of industry and the economic fabric for the sectors of the future […], engaging in cutting-edge research to develop solutions (decarbonised electricity, materials, start-up creation). We are working, acting and thinking for the future”.
Strasbourg’s chemistry research cluster enjoys a significant reputation in the world of business, institutions and local/regional authorities. The laboratories’ research continues to attract companies in the field and the foundation works to promote these interactions. The discipline of “chemistry” covers research at the heart of society’s concerns linked to the green transition. In Strasbourg, over forty research teams are working on frontier research in chemistry on subjects delivering promising innovations to reduce our impact on the environment: new energy technologies, CO2 capture and storage, sustainable high-performance materials, green and bio-sourced chemistry, etc.
Established as a tool for cooperation between university laboratories and business, institutions and local/regional authorities, the foundation presents companies with an offering of scientific expertise from the University of Strasbourg, structured around industrial issues. The objective is the joint development of research programmes able to give rise to new environmentally responsible concepts but also to develop solutions to the issues facing the industries that are stakeholders in the project.