Edwin van Meerkerk, hoogleraar Cultuureducatie
Edwin van Meerkerk, hoogleraar Cultuureducatie

Edwin van Meerkerk awarded special sustainability award

An award for sustainability in education instituted by students themselves. Professor of Cultural Studies Edwin van Meerkerk was honoured at the end of June with the Best Practice Award SustainaBUL, instituted by Students for Tomorrow, a national organisation for sustainability in higher education. “We want to motivate institutions to continue to put sustainability high on the agenda.”

Students for Tomorrow celebrated its 30th anniversary this spring, with an extra festive touch for Radboud University as the sustainability award was presented to Van Meerkerk. Among other things, the organisation produces an annual ranking, revealing how institutions score on sustainability across the board. “This includes housing, the greening of the campus, but also education and research,” says Lisa van den Dries, Master’s student in Biology and board member of Students for Tomorrow. “Sustainability touches on all parts of the organisation.” In late June, she and two fellow board members attended the presentation of the award to Van Meerkerk.

Member of the Executive Board Agnes Muskens underlies the importance of the sustainability award presented to Van Meerkerk. “This university has expressed a wish to make an impact in society. We are therefore committed to keeping sustainability high on our agenda. It’s great to see this highlighted with this award instituted by the students themselves.” Van Meerkerk concurs that this has great added value. “It shows that students themselves can also make change happen.” The award motivates van Meerkerk to continue with his mission. “I feel empowered. It’s important to show that sustainability is more than policy on paper. It’s important that students can learn, experience and feel that you can really do something about it. That is something a lot of students long to hear.”

Impact with teaching

A Comenius grant allowed Van Meerkerk to go on a mission tour of all 38 Bachelor's programmes of Radboud University over the past two years. Based on conversations with lecturers and students, he put together a toolkit, a set of tools that all lecturers can use to get started on sustainability. This is his way of trying to win over what he believes to still be a large group of undecided lecturers. “Many lecturers are wondering whether this topic is not too activist. The toolkit provides guidance on how to responsibly bring sustainability to the table in education.” Lecturers do feel that there is a need for this, Van Meerkerk points out, citing many students' desire for impact-based teaching. “Students want to be able, later, to make a difference and contribute to solving the world's problems. Today's education must meet this need.”

The award stimulates Radboud University to keep up with its ambitions, says Muskens. “On all fronts, we see students and lecturers wanting to turn their concerns about climate change and lack of social sustainability into action, in the lecture hall and in their own lives. That is also something we encourage.” Van Meerkerk's tools are therefore welcome for integrating sustainability into education in an effective way. “It’s important to be able to show that it’s fun to work on this. If you enjoy something, you become good at it, and once you’re good at it, you can start making an impact.”

Students for Tomorrow couldn’t agree more. Lisa van den Dries: “We continue to monitor the institutions to make sure they take sustainability seriously in all areas, and continue to take the steps needed. We can't afford to lose our focus.”

Toolkit 'You have a part to play'

More about sustainability at Radboud University

Contact information

Organizational unit
Faculty of Arts