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Our key issues — With the list 'A Sustainable University', we want to contribute to creating a future-oriented university that works ambitiously and purposefully to incorporate human and environmental sustainability in research, education and daily operations.
See all signatories at the bottom of the post.
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We are a group of researchers consisting of PhD students, postdocs, assistant professors, associate professors, associate professors and professors across disciplines and faculties who are running for the board of the University of Copenhagen.
A sustainable university is a university where employees and students thrive and where there is room for diversity. Therefore, we also want to emphasize human sustainability: The University of Copenhagen must be a place where all employees and students feel heard and included.
Furthermore, we see a growing need to strengthen academic freedom so that the University of Copenhagen can continue to deliver free and independent research that is not controlled by external interests and where researchers feel comfortable participating in the public conversation based on their research.
Sustainability, well-being and academic freedom are mutually dependent
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These three key issues – sustainability, well-being and academic freedom – are mutually dependent. We will only have free and independent research and researchers who actively contribute to the public debate if we as a university create well-being and influence for all employees and researchers. And the University of Copenhagen can only maintain a legitimate voice in society if it is clearly oriented towards the ecological crises we are facing.
In the process of developing UCPH’s future university strategy, it has become clear that the current board has chosen not to include sustainability as one of the university’s three overall strategic ambitions towards 2030. In light of the enormous challenges facing Denmark and the rest of the world in the climate and environmental field, we and many of our colleagues at UCPH find this omission deeply worrying.
We believe that the University of Copenhagen has a crucial role to play in society’s sustainable transition – both through research, education of graduates with interdisciplinary skills and in our own operations. In other words, we want the University of Copenhagen to be one of the leading green universities of the future.
Some of the things we will work for if the list is elected to the board are:
● To include sustainability as a strategic ambition in the university’s overarching strategy.
● The development of sustainability strategies at faculty and department level for research, education and operations that are adapted to the local context (for example, through the establishment of sustainability assemblies).
● Work strategically with ‘green education’ (in line with, for example, ‘digital education’) and allocate funds for continuing education for teachers so that sustainability considerations can be incorporated into the individual subjects in a meaningful way.
● By the end of next year, the university will specify how the goal of reducing its climate footprint by 50% by 2030 will be achieved.
If the University of Copenhagen is to be a world-class green university where new and innovative ideas flourish, it requires that both employees and students thrive and feel good. Therefore, we find it worrying that many of our colleagues express that they are overworked, stressed and have difficulty balancing work and private life.
We find it worrying that many of our colleagues express that they are overworked
At the same time, younger and short-term researchers in particular feel that their working and employment conditions have a negative impact on their mental health. Something similar is happening among students, where more and more people are unhappy in a stressful everyday life.
Therefore, some of the things we will work for on the board are:
● A comprehensive mapping of well-being among employees and students is carried out, which goes beyond the current APV measurements.
● That management works purposefully to combat all forms of discrimination.
● Dialogue meetings are convened with VIP, TAP and students to define some key focus areas to ensure well-being and job satisfaction.
● Allocating funds for strategic initiatives to create increased well-being.
An increasing proportion of research at UCPH is financed by external funding, which increases the need to ensure that research is not controlled by external interests. Some of our colleagues at SUND, for example, are concerned that industry and foundations, rather than researchers themselves, are increasingly setting the overall direction of research. Just as there have been cases in the past where, for example, the agricultural industry has tried to interfere in specific research projects.
Freedom of research is not only about the freedom to conduct research without interference, but also about the right to speak out on the basis of your research. A recent DFIR report found that many researchers – especially those working on controversial topics – are afraid to speak out publicly. Therefore, it is crucial that the university’s management actively supports researchers who come forward based on their research.
Some of the things we will work for on the board are therefore:
● Increased focus on ensuring that external research grants do not conflict with free and independent research.
● The establishment of an interdisciplinary task force that can provide support to researchers who participate in the public debate on controversial topics.
● That the management clearly states that researchers at the University of Copenhagen have an extended right to express themselves on the basis of their research, and that this right is protected.
● Initiate a broader discussion internally at the university about what it takes to ensure all aspects of freedom of research.
We believe that the best way to create a better and more sustainable university is to promote democratic participation and ensure that employees have a say in the university’s overall policies.
We feel that there is currently too much distance between the management level and the university’s employees
We don’t delude ourselves that we know the solution to all the complex challenges outlined above, or that they can be solved from the boardroom alone. But we are convinced that the best people to assess the pros and cons of any measures are the employees themselves. We feel that there is currently too much distance between the management level and the university’s employees. Therefore, we are also running for the board election at UCPH to ensure greater transparency about the work of the board.
By voting on the Sustainable University list, you can help shape the future of the University of Copenhagen and support our vision for a more inclusive and democratic university. Vote for us and let’s work together to make the University of Copenhagen one of the leading green universities of the future.
Cecilie Friis, assistant professor, SCIENCE
Cecilie Rubow, associate professor, HUM
Clara Vandeweerdt, assistant professor, SAMF
Fernando Racimo, associate professor, SUND
Frida Hastrup, associate professor, HUM
Jens Friis Lund, professor, SCIENCE
Kirstine Lund Christiansen, PhD, SCIENCE
Mads Ejsing, postdoc, HUM
Michael Borregaard, associate professor, SUND
Mikkel Frantzen, associate professor, HUM
Miriam Cullen, associate professor, JUR
Niklas Olsen, professor, HUM
Rebecca Rutt, associate professor, SCIENCE
Sophie Wennerscheid, associate professor, HUM
Stig Jensen, associate professor, TEO
Søren Beck Nielsen, associate professor, HUM