Ghent University Colleges Reach Out to Policymakers in Climate Issues

artevelde university college climate

The rectors of the two largest Ghent university colleges, Artevelde University College Ghent and University College Ghent, call upon their students and lecturers to participate in the climate march in Ghent on Sunday 24 February. "Not only to show that we take these climate issues seriously and that there is an urgent need for action, but also to show policymakers that we would like to help find solutions," says Tomas Legrand, rector of Artevelde University College Ghent. "It's important that we do this together with the professional field, the citizens and other stakeholders," adds Koen Goethals, rector of University College Ghent.

"We educate the people who will have to tackle these climate issues in the coming years," Tomas Legrand explains. "That's why sustainability is a common thread throughout all programmes. Not only in the technical knowledge, but also in the skills we teach students. We instil a sustainability reflex in our students with attention not only to ecology, but also to social and economic sustainability."

Sustainability is not only discussed inside the classroom, but also outside of it. "We also encourage students to develop their own sustainability initiatives," Tomas Legrand continues. "On the 27th of March, for example, the student association 't Bos In is organising the Eco Loco climate event at campus Kantienberg, with performances, speakers, an eco market... Naturally, we provide financial support to facilitate similar initiatives."

Multidisciplinary Approach

"Climate change can only be tackled with a multidisciplinary approach, and this is our strength as university colleges," continues Koen Goethals, rector of University College Ghent. "Our students are challenged and trained to tackle problems in a multidisciplinary way and are therefore armed with an open mind and a sustainability reflex. The research conducted at our university colleges is also characterised by a multidisciplinary approach and forms a link between the universities and the professional field, where we put knowledge to the test and present concrete realisations."

For example, University College Ghent is currently conducting research into the use of roadside grass clippings for the production of biocomposites. "Together with various European partners, we're investigating how we can turn roadside grass clippings into a renewable resource instead of a waste product in order to promote a new circular economy," Koen Goethals gives as an example. "It's important that we as university colleges do this in cooperation with the citizens, the professional field, the city and other stakeholders," he continues. "For example, together with the students, the neighbourhood and local businesses, we're developing a green environment around our buildings at campus Schoonmeersen. Not only will this be a green island in an urban environment and a refuge for fauna and flora, but it will also reduce the heat stress in the neighbourhood around the Gent-Sint-Pieters railway station.

Time for Action

Both rectors are proud of the fact that their students and staff have the necessary skills to contribute to climate solutions, and that they are willing to do so. To support this, they call on all students and staff to participate en masse in the climate march in Ghent. "Yes, it's time for action. But at the same time, we also want to send a powerful signal to policymakers, to show them that they can count on us and our students," both rectors agree.

Rendezvous on Sunday 24 February at the stairs on the Sint-Pietersplein, departure at 15:00.

Artevelde University College Ghent and University College Ghent are both ambassadors of Sign for My Future– www.signformyfuture.be