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  • Sustainability

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That was the Sustainable Semester 2023

Detail of the facade of the main university building. In the foreground, a pair of eyes is depicted in comic style, looking curiously.
© Bielefeld University

The summer semester 2023 was all about sustainability. With presentations, campus tours, lunch & learns, workshops and networking events, students, researchers, teaching staff and employees of the university had numerous opportunities to inform themselves about the topic of sustainability, to discuss, to exchange and to participate.

Poster for the Sustainable Semester
© Bielefeld University

Around 140 different participants from Bielefeld University took part in the various events over the summer, such as the three different campus tours, the four different workshops or the two Sustainable Science Cafes.

Lick-off event

The Sustainable Semester started with an opening lecture by Prof. Dr Eva Schwenzfeier-Hellkamp on the topic "Circular Economy meets companies in the OWL region - potentials of transformation". This was followed by a panel discussion in which the participants discussed how universities can become key players in the transformation towards a sustainable society.

Kick-off event of the Sustainable Semester

Impulse lecture

Professor Dr Eva Schwenzfeier-Hellkamp, Professor in the Department of Engineering and Mathematics at Bielefeld UAS

"Circular Economy meets companies in the OWL region - potentials of transformation".

In the face of global crises such as climate change and resource scarcity, a change in thinking and action is imperative. Resources must be used sustainably and as little landfill waste as possible must be produced. The Circular Economy (CE) / Circular Value Creation offers solution options that require a transformation of the corporate culture.

A society in which all materials and substances are managed in cycles. The products are free of pollutants as well as healthy and there is no more waste. This is what the world could look like if the Circular Economy were to become a guiding principle for society and companies.

  • What is meant by Circular Economy / Circular Value Creation and C2C certification?
  • What are the current developments in the Circular Economy?
  • What transformation is necessary for this?
  • What role do research projects such as CirQuality and InCamS@Bi play for the OWL region?
  • What good examples with technical implementations already exist?

Finally, the presentation used the example of the interdisciplinary activities in teaching and research of the Institute ITES at the University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld to show what contribution a university can make to the transformation.

Panel discussion

"How can universities become key players in the transformation towards a sustainable society?

This was followed by a panel discussion on which strategic framework conditions a university can provide in order to be able to promote these potentials of transformation through teaching and research. In addition, it was discussed what responsibility a university has to act sustainably itself, but also what responsibility it assumes or can assume for the transformation towards a sustainable society through research and teaching.

Jasmine Azari

Photo by Jasmin Azari
© Jasmin Azari

Jasmin Azari is studying primary school teaching with integrated special needs education. She has been working in the Ecology Department of the AStA [Student Union] Bielefeld since September 2022 and has been active in FridaysForFuture since 2020. She has also been a member of the Student Parliament for StudentsForFuture since 2021/2022 and campaigns for animal rights on the side.

Prof. Dr Natalie Bartholomäus

Photo by Prof.'in Dr. Natalie Bartholomäus
© Studio Hirschmeier

Prof. Dr Natalie Bartholomäus has been Professor of Human Resource Management and Organisation at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences since 2015. Prior to her professorship, Ms Bartholomäus worked as a corporate and HR consultant in an international project context. Since 2021, she has been Vice President for Sustainability and Strategic Human Resource Management and leads the strategy development process for sustainability at Bielefeld UAS.

Prof. Dr Alexandra Kaasch

Photo by Prof. Dr Alexandra Kaasch
© Bielefeld University/ M. Adamski

Prof Dr Alexandra Kaasch has been at Bielefeld University since 2014 and has held the professorship for German and Transnational Social Policy since 2020. She has been Prorector for Science and Society at Bielefeld University since 2021 and is responsible, among other things, for the area of sustainability.

Prof. Dr Anne Sanders

Photo by Prof. Dr Anne Sanders
© Karoline Wolf

Prof. Dr Anne Sanders has held the chair for Civil Law, Corporate Law, Family Business Law and Justice Research at Bielefeld University since 2018. From 2009 to 2011, she worked as a research assistant at the Federal Constitutional Court. Since 2021, she has been Professor II at the University of Bergen in Norway and a regular expert at the Council of Europe on issues of judicial independence and judicial organisation. In her research, Ms Sanders focuses on court organisation, family law and legal issues of sustainable entrepreneurship in family-owned and responsibly-owned businesses. She actively integrates sustainability issues into her lectures and currently has a textbook project on business law and sustainability with Springer.

Prof. Dr Eva Schwenzfeier-Hellkamp

Photo by Prof. Dr Eva Schwenzfeier-Hellkamp
© University Communication FH Bielefeld, Photographer S. Freitag

Prof. Dr Eva Schwenzfeier-Hellkamp has been a professor in the Department of Engineering and Mathematics with a focus on information technology at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences since 2008 and head of the Institute for Technical Energy Systems ITES since 2018. In addition, she was chair of the district association VDI OWL from 2014 - 2017. Her focus of research includes smart light and smart energy and circular value creation. Ms Schwenzfeier-Hellkamp is a member of the Bielefeld Climate Advisory Board. She combines sustainability topics with both her own research and her teaching.

Der Zugriff auf die Aufzeichnung ist nur aus dem Universitätsnetz bzw. bei aktivierter VPN-Verbindung möglich. Vielen Dank an das studentische Projektteam für Technik und Lehre (TiL) für die technische Unterstützung bei der Aufzeichnung!

Get to know the campus

Sustainable building
Bielefeld University
© Bielefeld University

The first campus tour as part of the Sustainable Semester took place on the topic of "Sustainable Building". Roman Immoor and Nina Brodführer from the Department of Facility Management led a one-hour tour of the campus of Bielefeld University and gave an insight into the current construction and energy efficiency measures and answered questions on the topic of sustainability, photovoltaic systems, facade greening and criteria for more sustainable building materials. Participants were able to take a look at the construction site for the new buildings R5 - R7, the facade photovoltaic system of the new building R2 and the current construction measures at the main university building.

Two pictures from the kitchen of the university canteen in the X building
© Bielefeld University

Mark Bothe from the Studierendenwerk Bielefeld gave the participants a behind-the-scenes tour of the university canteen, where up to 4,000 meals are prepared per day. During the one-hour tour, participants were able to learn about the processes and daily challenges of communal catering and ask questions about sustainability in the university canteen. Information was provided on the university canteen's energy consumption, the development of vegetarian and vegan menus and how sustainability can be taken into account in production and purchasing.

Honigwabe mit Bienen
© Bielefeld University

During the campus tour on the topic of "Uni - Bees", the participants visited the eleven bee colonies in the school garden on the open spaces of the Faculty of Biology. On this campus tour, Nils Hasenbein, Student Affairs Officer of the Faculty of Biology, gave some insights into the life of university bees as well as their use for teaching and research, beekeeping and honey, and how keeping beneficial bees can be seen in the light of sustainability or even contradictions arise. However, there were not only theoretical insights into the life of the university bees, participants could experience the bees up close and even taste the very fresh honey from the honeycomb.

Green roof of the bicycle parking behind R4
© Bielefeld University

Nina Brodführer and Svenja Sjoerds from the Department of Facility Management gave the participants of the campus tour on the topic of biodiversity an overview of the current biodiversity-promoting measures on the university campus in about an hour. Participants were able to take a look at the various flower strips on campus and ask questions about current and planned biodiversity measures, future planned campus changes and campus design. On the roof of the bicycle parking area behind R4, we took a look at a green roof with ground covers, as has already been and will be realised on some new hives.

Participate and try out

Urban Gardening
Seedlings in the school garden
© Bielefeld University

How biological knowledge can be taught in a school garden through the cultivation of various useful plants could be learned at the Urban Gardening Workshop on the open-air grounds of the Faculty of Biology. Nils Hasenbein gave an impulse on how everyone can personally sharpen their view of species, habitats and ecological connections in their own environment and create habitats for animals and plants in the urban environment through easy-to-implement measures. In addition, it was discussed how it is possible to start growing one's own useful and ornamental plants in a small space, even without prior knowledge.

Woman on a bicycle
© Bielefeld University

The AStA [Student Union]'s Radtschlag in cooperation with the Students for Future offered a series of different workshops on the topic of cycling as part of the Sustainable Semester. Participants could learn in the four thematically different workshops with several dates, among other things, what they should pay attention to from an ergonomic point of view when buying a bicycle and when adjusting it, which typical mistakes can be avoided when buying used bicycles, how to make sure that the brakes are properly maintained and how I can best repair my bicycle myself.

Three people sit at a table with a laptop and colourful cards on it
© Bielefeld University/ Pollmeier

In order to get to know the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations better, the participants of the workshop on the business game Sustain 2030 workshop were able to take on different roles and discuss possible measures for achieving the goals in a fictitious citizens' council. The business game made clear to them the complex conflicts of goals of the 17 SDGs, which formulate ecological as well as social and economic goals for sustainable development. In addition, the participants experienced the challenges of making political decisions in the simulation of the application of various measures.

Sewing machine on a table
© Students for Future Bielefeld

Participants could learn how to sew new products such as cushions, pencil cases, scarves, etc. from old clothes, curtains or bed covers in the two upcycling workshops organised by Students For Future in cooperation with the Adult Education Centre Bielefeld. Participants also had the opportunity to change or spruce up the clothes they had brought with them.

Exchange and network

Sustainable Science Café
Empty seminar room with set tables
© Bielefeld University

How can sustainability-oriented research be designed? What ideas are there for climate and resource-friendly research? In the two Sustainable Science Cafés, one on the topic of "Sustainable Research Operations" and the other on "Research on Sustainability", all interested researchers were able to discuss their ideas and challenges after a short keynote speech and network over coffee, biscuits and fruit.

Four people sit at a table and discuss
© Bielefeld University

How do Bielefeld University employees travel to events? What impact does this have on our environment? How can business trips and events at the university be made more sustainable? In the two short exchange formats during the lunch break, interested parties were each able to give input on the topic of sustainable (business) travel and sustainable event planning and discuss their own experiences.

Flea market on the Social Field
© Students for Future Bielefeld

The university group Students for Future organised a university flea market by students & staff for students & staff again on 23.06.2023 after a long break. From 2-6 p.m., guests could browse the various stalls on the Social Field of Bielefeld University.


Distribution of fruit and vegetable rescue boxes in cooperation with Restlos e.V.

Looking over the shoulder of a person standing in front of a box of fruit and vegetables, holding a pineapple.
© Bielefeld University

In addition to the wide range of different events and workshops, Restlos e.V. also distributed the fruit and vegetable rescue boxes at Bielefeld University and Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences this summer semester to set an example against food waste.

Final lecture of the Sustainable Semester

The Sustainable Semester was completed with a presentation by Professor Dr Claudia Hornberg on the topic "Emergency Room - What role do medicine and public health have in times of climate change?". Among other things, the presentation gave an insight into the interrelationships between climate change and the manifold health effects and the role of (future) physicians and other health professions in this context.

Final lecture on the topic of 'Climate Change & Health'

Prof. Dr. Claudia Hornberg, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Bielefeld University

Climate change and the associated health effects directly affect the health sector and its employees. They already play a central role in the field of health communication, prevention, diagnostics and therapy of climate-associated health effects.
The presentation will give an insight into the interrelationships between climate change and its manifold health effects and will address the role of (future) medical professionals and other health professions in this context. In addition, the most important findings of the research project "Implementation of climate (protection) and health aspects in the teaching of medical and medical-related degree programmes (MedKlimaGesund)", funded by the Stifterverband at the Medical School OWL (AG Sustainable Environmental Health Sciences), will be presented. The project makes an important contribution to sensitising teaching staff from the university and the clinical-ambulatory field to the topic of climate change & health and provides initial action implications for integrating the topics into teaching.

Der Zugriff auf die Aufzeichnung ist nur aus dem Universitätsnetz bzw. bei aktivierter VPN-Verbindung möglich. Vielen Dank an das TiL-Team für die technische Unterstützung bei der Aufzeichnung!

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