Seminar “Sustainable Teachers” about working sustainably as teaching staff

By Caroline Cabot - Published 21 December 2022
[Translate to English:] Karin Steen

That all students should learn about sustainability at some point during their education is something the Swedish Council for Higher Education has decided. But how can lecturers include sustainability in their teaching – without tying themselves in knots in what is often a hectic schedule? That was just one of the questions addressed in the seminar series Sustainable Teaching & Learning in Higher Education: Principles & Practices, during the autumn semester. On 19 January 2023, the fourth and final seminar takes place, focusing on how to work sustainably as a lecturer.

The seminar series is being arranged by the Division for Higher Education Development (AHU) and is aimed specifically at teaching staff at Lund University, but anyone interested is welcome to participate.

Karin Steen, senior lecture at the Division for Higher Education Development (AHU) .

Karin Steen is a senior lecturer at the Division for Higher Education Development, AHU, and is responsible for the seminar series. Below she answers some questions about the seminar:

Where did the idea for a series about sustainability in higher education teaching come from in the first place?

With sustainability increasingly featuring in societal debate, the issue has also begun to be discussed in higher education. How are we to adapt our education in order to meet contemporary and future sustainability challenges? At the same time, the Government and the Swedish Council for Higher Education demand that we address sustainability in our teaching. So it was time to deal with it from AHU’s side, and to offer a forum in which we can discuss sustainability and teaching and learning in higher education.

On 19 January, it is time for the fourth and final seminar in the series. What can we expect from it?

The fourth seminar is entitled “Sustainable teachers” and we ask ourselves how we, as teaching staff are going to include sustainability in our teaching without wearing ourselves out. Demands on what university lecturers are expected to do are constantly growing, but how is this supposed to be done in the same number of working hours?

One of the speakers is Robert Frodeman, who will be participating from the US via Zoom. He is a former professor at the University of North Texas and is now an independent writer. Among other things, he writes about environmental philosophy and the future of universities. He will be talking about “Making knowledge sustainable.”

The other speaker is Jessica Luth Richter, associate senior lecturer from The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE) at Lund University. Her research concerns sustainable consumption through a circular economy and she will be speaking specifically about sustainable lecturers.

What do you hope that visitors will be able to take away from the seminar?

I hope that they will feel that it is possible to include sustainability in their teaching without tying themselves up in knots and risking their health along the way – in other words, how to be more sustainable as a lecturer.

Which new questions have you been struck by during this seminar series, ones that you would like to continue to explore in the future?

I have been inspired by seeing how energetic the participants have been in their discussions with one another – across discipline and faculty boundaries. That has confirmed to me that we need to develop what AHU offers teaching staff in terms of continued professional development in teaching and learning in higher education, specifically adapted to include sustainability in their teaching.

A question that has become very pertinent for me is whether we want students to benefit from new skills and approaches to sustainability, often called “key competencies for sustainability.” But what “key competencies” do those of us who teach need to have? And how can AHU help out if there is something new within teaching and learning in higher education that teaching staff need?

Read more and sign up for the seminar.