SIG Sustainability: Paving the Way for a more sustainable Radboud University

The SIG (Special Interest Group) Sustainability consists of students and staff members who are united through their interest and shared mission regarding sustainability education. How can the university contribute to and promote care for all forms of life, human and non-human? What is the role of the university in empowering learners and teachers to take informed decisions and responsible action in a changing, uncertain, and complex world? How to shape and promote education for sustainability transformation? These are the questions that the SIG Sustainability is deliberating on.

The SIG Sustainability

The SIG Sustainability emphasize that it is key to take our responsibility as a higher education institution to nurture transformative changes towards sustainable societies. There is a momentum for sustainability at our university and the SIG Sustainability wants to bring together all the people who are interested in and want to work on the topic focusing on the role of education. According to the Special Interest Group, there is a need to develop ideas and competences that are highly relevant to today’s society, our environment, and the economy. 

Therefore, on May 2, 2024, members of the SIG Sustainability at Radboud University gathered with Daniël Wigboldus, the President of the Executive Board, for a meeting. The meeting aimed at promoting connection and exchanging ideas about the interplay between bottom-up initiatives and top-down facilitation to achieve the sustainability objectives RU has formulated. During the meeting the PIMP framework was used to structure the dialogue and to drive meaningful action.


In summary, PIMP is about Pride, Impediments, Momentum, and Plans. There are notably, as highlighted by different members of the SIG Sustainability, several achievements that Radboud University can be proud of – Pride. Students increasingly choose RU because of its emphasis on sustainability that is also being communicated in large PR campaigns; courses on sustainability in teaching are offered to staff that contribute to their professional development; several projects and several courses on the topic of sustainability have been initiated, sometimes even in co-creation with students; and the RU has run various sustainability projects, including energy use reduction and campaigns like “You have a part to play.”  

However, despite these achievements, the RU is not there yet. There are significant challenges that need to be addressed – Impediments. Institutional barriers at higher organizational levels often impede the integration of sustainability into educational programs. There is a lack of urgency and a top-down steering approach that limits proactive actions. Sustainability courses for students are offered, however, they mostly remain elective, restricting their reach and impact. Regretfully, engagement for sustainability is often seen as a “hobby” and hardly recognized, even though it is part of the university’s mission statement and educational vision. The inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations that are crucial in education for sustainability are hindered by different faculty policies. In addition, lecturers who actively engage and advocate for sustainability face safety concerns, which hinders their efforts.  

The SIG Sustainability members were very happy to see that Daniël Wigboldus listened and related to these challenges and actively tried to find opportunities to promote change, also by building on the current Momentum and by formulating Plans. Sustainability needs to become an integral part of Radboud University's core values and operations. It should be part of the RU DNA. An important way to achieve this is to have more interdisciplinary discussions to build a critical movement and drive collective action. Clear, university-wide sustainability goals are essential, and these need to be integrated into key documents and practices, like the RU strategy.  Other concrete plans that were discussed include the adjustment of staff appraisal forms to include sustainability criteria, the formulation of overarching educational goals that incorporate sustainability goals in the Education and Examination Regulations (EER), and a better incorporation of the topic sustainability into teacher development programs. 

In about half a year, Daniël Wigboldus wants to join the SIG Sustainability again to update each other on the progress of the plans that were formulated. Are you interested in joining the discussion? All RU and RUMC students and staff members are invited to join (one of) the future meetings and/or to reach out to the SIG Sustainability. SIG members also encourage everybody to make the first step now by starting the dialogue and by starting to talk about sustainability and the future we want to live in.