7.3 Sustainable Education

Through its education, Tilburg University aims to create awareness of issues relating to sustainability among students, challenging them to consider the roles they can play in society. Sustainability is a part of character building within our educational profile. The mindset of the future leaders we are preparing for the future at Tilburg University is fueled by a broad ideology of sustainability.

As part of the strategy, we worked to make sustainability part of several degree programs in 2021. There is now a minor in Law and a Sustainable Future (TLS) and a Bachelor’s program in Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation in which the theme is clearly embedded. It proved difficult to reflect sustainability in other curricula. The rollout of a labeling system for courses that could indicate the extent of attention devoted to sustainability was also not completed. This was due in part to shifting priorities due to the pandemic.

Although it proved difficult to embed sustainability into curricula, we did offer 85 courses focusing on the SDGs in 2021. Examples include Economics: Sustainable Development, Data Science: sustainability, privacy, and security, or Sustainability and Health and Well-being in a Global World. There are about 20 study and student associations with a strong focus on sustainability in relation to a variety of topics (e.g., Enactus, Vitruvian, and AIESEC).

In addition, events involving sustainability are regularly organized on behalf of the University and associations. In the past year, a sustainability fund was established to assist associations in their efforts to achieve a sustainable transition. Due to the pandemic, many events were offered online. Ten cultural activities were organized, and 20 events centered on sustainability. Examples include the 2021 Warande Lecture, entitled “Know what you eat: The need for a new food system,” and the series on Global Sustainable Leadership.

Several sustainable start-ups have been established by students and alumni (e.g., the sustainable roof gardens by Rooftop Rumour). Roof gardens create the livable city of the future. They enhance the well-being of residents, in addition to restoring and strengthening biodiversity within the city. The Plennid company provides project development based on circular business models. After its success with the 3D printing company Ultimaker, the same Tilburg University graduate has now turned his attention to Stekker.app: a company that enables smarter and more sustainable charging and discharging of electric cars. ImpactUp is a start-up that is building an intelligent grocery platform for quickly and easily generating a personalized, healthy, and sustainable grocery plan for consumers. In addition, our students participate in SDG challenges that are organized nationally or internationally.