Steps towards sustainability in 2020

Completed in February 2020, the strategy of Tampere University defines our mission: We are working together to build a sustainable world. Tampere University and the entire Tampere Universities community are committed to building a sustainable and responsible future for us all.

An important blueprint for our sustainable development activities is provided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the theses on sustainable development and responsibility published by Universities Finland (UNIFI) in November 2020. UNIFI’s theses set out an ambitious vision and define the areas that Finnish universities will focus on in their efforts to promote sustainability. The twelve theses are divided into the categories of research, teaching, the universities’ own functions and administration, societal impact and cooperation, and preconditions for responsibility and sustainable development.

In 2020, Tampere University took steps to further the sustainability initiative especially in the areas of teaching and the development of own functions. We have set a strategic goal to ensure all our students receive a grounding in sustainable development and the themes relating to the United Nations Agenda 2030. In line with this goal, we reviewed all our course offerings in 2020 and made easily findable the elective courses that explore sustainable development themes and are broadly available to students enrolled on different degree programmes. In addition, materials that help teachers incorporate sustainable development themes into their classes were made available through the Teaching & Learning Center, which opened in the autumn of 2020. In the year under review, the integration of sustainable development into all fields of study was discussed twice by the University’s Education Council.

Tampere University introduced a new multidisciplinary, English-language Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Sustainable Urban Development in 2020. We also made preparations for the autumn 2021 launch of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Sustainable Digital Life. In 2020, we geared up to transform our Y-kampus, a provider of multidisciplinary entrepreneurship courses, into HUBS, a hub of education with a focus on sustainable entrepreneurship. HUBS offers, among other things, a minor subject in sustainable entrepreneurship and opportunities for students to carry out multidisciplinary sustainable development projects in cooperation with the working life. Our activities to promote sustainability continue with an assessment of how our course offerings respond to the SDGs.

To lay a solid foundation for developing our own functions, we calculated the emissions generated by travel and the campus buildings, based on 2019 data, in the spring of 2020. The first ever calculation of the overall carbon footprint of Tampere Universities was completed in the autumn. The main sources of emissions were travel, buildings and research infrastructures. The work will continue by preparing a roadmap that outlines the steps to be taken towards carbon neutrality by 2030, which is a commitment agreed with the Ministry of Education and Culture.

To further develop our sustainable development activities, we took part in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for the first time in the autumn of 2020. The rankings measure the success of universities in delivering the SDGs.

Another important step taken in 2020 was the creation of a website that provides an overview of all the sustainable development activities that are carried out across Tampere Universities. In the autumn, we conducted an extensive co-creation survey on sustainability among the members of the Tampere Universities community and organised a series of events (such as the Leadership Symposium with a sustainable development theme, a student roundtable, and a pre-hack meeting before the sustainability hackathon held in January 2021) that will continue in 2021.