Global Citizenship meets Sustainability

by Antonia Tertelmann, University of Tübingen

Reflecting on the forum brings to mind a multitude of different associations, memories and discussion points. In the following I will only mention some notable events from the public conference and one thought to carry forward into the next forum.

The public conference on the fourth day allowed for more discussion and exchange of dialogue on the projects presented throughout the previous days. Additionally, it introduced the forum to the public, allowing people who are not directly encompassed in the network to engage with all the partner universities.

I can particularly remember the presentation by CEMUS (Uppsala). They carried out an activity that they usually perform during one of their courses in the CEMUS-Centrs. In the activity, designed to illustrate how systems work, each participant had to stay in contact with a hula hoop as they slowly lowered it to the ground. This seemingly simple exercise which the group failed to accomplish led to the realisation that “when a group of small, well intentioned people fail to do something they wanted to do there must be a systematic reason.”

Later that day, Arhea Marshall and I held a workshop on sustainable development. We started with the results of our earlier introduced “Sustainable Hunt” wherein the forum attendees were asked to submit photographs of physical manifestations of sustainability (ignoring recycling bins and solar panels). We got a wide variety of photos ranging from a plastic flower to a picture of a second-hand watch. For me, this has illustrated the breadth of the spectrum on sustainable issues. In the discussion that followed, it also emerged that sustainability is more than just reusable cups and planting trees. In my view, sustainability contains ideas of global citizenship, just as global citizenship cannot be separated from sustainability.

As a discussion point for further forums, I would find it exciting to discuss what it means to be an elite university of the global North – one thing which all universities of the Matariki Forum share. This could include topics of global responsibility, a debate about flying policies within the university and a discussion on postcolonial theory.

...sustainability is more than just reusable cups and planting trees.