Sustainability Think Tank

Structure + Procedure

The Sustainability Think Tank (STT) was founded in November 2023 to develop a sustainability strategy for Heidelberg University. The overarching aim of the STT is to develop proposals for a coherent sustainability strategy for the university in a participatory process. All existing initiatives in the areas of research, research operations, teaching, transfer, communication and operations are to be brought together, further developed and analyzed with regard to desired cross-references. 

Five working groups (WG) were formed at the kick-off meeting in November 2023 along the aforementioned dimensions of action: Research, Research Operations, Teaching, Operations and Transfer/Communication. Their task will be to develop proposals for concrete measures towards sustainable development. The results of the working groups will be exchanged and checked for coherence and synergies in the STT plenum, which will meet twice a semester. 

Interested and committed university staff and students are invited to actively participate in the subgroups. The STT initiative was developed in the university's Commission for Research and Strategy and will maintain a close exchange with the Rectorate via the Vice-Rector for Quality Development and Sustainability, Prof. Dr. Karin Schumacher. 

The WG are described in more detail below:

  • WG Research: This working group pursues the goal of advancing sustainability research at the university. It is therefore dedicated to the question “what” should be researched, e.g. conducting more research on environmental issues and promoting interdisciplinary studies that focus on sustainable practices.
  • WG Research Operations: The aim of this working group is to make research operations more sustainable. Accordingly, it raises the question “how” research should be conducted. It's about how labs (or working groups) can become more sustainable. 
  • WG Teaching: This working group is dedicated to the task of developing proposals on how the university can further integrate sustainability in its academic programs e.g. by expanding its offerings in the field of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) or sustainability in university teaching. 
  • WG Operations: This working group develops measures on how the university can become a sustainable (learning) place and reduce its environmental impacts resulting from its day-to-day activities (e.g. energy consumption, waste management, water usage, and transportation). 
  • WG Transfer/Communication: This working group is dedicated to the question of how communication can be further developed internally and externally with regard to sustainable topics and how sustainability transfer activities can be expanded.

Your Ideas

Are you a student or member of staff at the university and do you have an idea on how the university can become more sustainable?

Then please answer a few questions via the link below. It will then be discussed at the next relevant working group meeting.

Your Idea

Interest in getting involved

Are you a student or member of staff at the university and would like to get involved in one of the Sustainability Think Tank's working groups on a regular basis (approx. 2h/week)?

Then please send us a short application by email with the following details: Your Name, your position, your background, your motivation and an indication regarding the working group you are interested in.

Contact persons

Irina Merz, Sustainability Manager at the University Heidelberg 
Dr. Max Jungmann, Executive Manager at the HCE