Sustainability Science at UCPH – University of Copenhagen

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Interdisciplinary Solutions For A Sustainable Future

Sustainability science is a rapidly developing trans-disciplinary, cross-faculty framework for studying issues with interacting cultural, ethical, political, social, legal, economic, technological, and natural science elements. The time perspective for these challenges goes far beyond a single generation and, in order to meet them, research from a wide variety of individual disciplines must be combined. New knowledge is needed in order to gain a deeper understanding of the complex interplay between the development of human societies and its interaction with the environment in which we live. 

Sustainability science is a particular and most promising framework for a concerted effort of disciplines, representing different scientific cultures and operating on different time-scales.

Systems-based research

Sustainability science is systems-based. In other words, it does not simply describe objects or units in nature or society but the interactions that occur between all of the objects/units relevant to the question at hand. Because of environmental pressures, for example, future food demands of the global population cannot be met by simply focusing on increasing production efficiency. Dietary choice and food waste are also levers that must come into play sustainably feed the world’s population in 2050. Sustainablity science examines how these different levers can come together to feed future generations. 

Because the University of Copenhagen is a multi-faculty university, it houses the diverse competences that are required to examine how different levers influence one another and how the levers, themselves, can best be applied. This makes the university ideally suited both for training sustainability professionals and for conducting research that contributes to sustainable development. The University of Copenhagen has identified areas of research in which it is particularly strong. All of these areas address major challenges facing society today and they call for solutions that involve collaboration between public authorities, business, industry and the University. 

Study sustainability 

Students are guided towards sustainability studies through a mapping of courses offered relating to different SDGs. Students can also take entire programmes related to climate change, natural resource management and the environment. Harnessing students’ energy, creativity and willpower is driving innovation at the University every day. 

People outside of the university can also benefit from the advances in the understanding of sustainable development emerging from UCPH through massive open on-line courses (MOOCs).