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Becoming a more sustainable university

Sustainability Committee

When the JMU Sustainability Committee was set up in 2013, we soon saw that many members of the University had already begun efforts towards a more sustainable use of resources or started initiatives aimed at making the JMU more socially sustainable.
Until then, however, those activities, some of which are described below in more detail, had not been seen as part of a University-wide effort to become more sustainable.

Volunteer initiatives

Founded more than ten years ago, the volunteer working group for ecology and sustainability of the JMU Student Representation wants to help make the University more sustainable. Its efforts focus on promoting ecological sustainability, the sustainable use of resources and climate protection.
Among other things, the award-winning student initiative runs the ‘CampusGarden’ project and provides information about living a more sustainable lifestyle. To encourage ecologically sustainable ways to manage campus grounds - this is the goal of the ‘Lebendiger Campus’ (campus full of life) initiative, a group of volunteers that was founded at the Faculty of Biology.

Support from the University

Employees of the Technical Maintenance Service Centre, the state building authority and other central bodies are now helping with the CampusGarden, the biotopes created by the ‘Lebendiger Campus’ initiative and many other projects that have been initiated by the two groups. And those projects have even been integrated into the research and teaching activities of the JMU, e.g. in the fields of biology, geography or education for sustainable development.

What our students do

The volunteer working group for ecology and sustainability of the JMU Student Representation was founded in an effort to raise awareness of sustainability issues among JMU students and the members of the University Board and to make an active contribution to greening our University.

The working group wants to work together with the other members of the JMU to make our University more sustainable. It focuses on aspects including teaching, campus operations, research and living green as a student. The working group offers the opportunity to help in the CampusGarden, organises workshops on sustainability and has published a how-to guide to living a more sustainable lifestyle.

The sustainability-related ‘Sind wir noch zu retten?’ (Are we beyond saving?) lecture series has merged into the ‘Sustainability’ lecture series, which is part of the ‘Certificate for Sustainability and Global Responsibility’ programme.

Award and recognitions

The working group for ecology and sustainability of the JMU Student Representation has received several recognitions and an award for its work:

  • 2012 and 2013/14: recognition as an official project of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
  • 2016/17 and 2018: recognition of the ‘CampusGarden’ project as an official project of the UN Decade on Biodiversity
  • November 2017: the ‘CampusGarden’ project selected as the first winner of the ‘Albrecht Fürst zu Castell-Castell-Preis’ sustainability award

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'Responsibility for the day after tomorrow!' This is the tagline that the Fürstlich Castell’sche Bank chose when it launched the 'Albrecht Fürst zu Castell-Castell-Preis für nachhaltiges Handeln an der Universität Würzburg' sustainability award in 2017.

Nominations and award ceremony

The winners are presented with their awards each year in the autumn at the concert organised by the 'Universitätsbund' society of the friends and patrons of the University. Nominations or applications must be submitted to the JMU Sustainability Committee by 30 June of each year.

Previous awardees

So far, the award, which comes with a cash prize of €3,000, has been given to:

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'Lebendiger Campus' (campus full of life) is an initiative by staff members and students of the Faculty of Biology and the Faculty of Arts as well as the working group for ecology and sustainability of the JMU Student Representation. It conducts systematic surveys of the animal, plant and fungal species found on Hubland campus and runs projects to protect the biodiversity there.

Past projects

Here are some of the projects the initiative has successfully completed in recent years:

  1. Surveys of the animal, plant and fungal species found on campus
  2. Science communication and public engagement activities on campus
  3. Supervision of Bachelor’s and Master’s theses
  4. Launching web pages for the initiative

Ongoing projects

The following activities started in 2019:

  • Monitoring: Conducting systematic scientific surveys of the animal, plant and fungal species found on campus.
  • Action: Creating ten small biotopes (‘bustle spaces’) in an effort to protect and enhance biodiversity on campus. These biotopes, each about ten square metres in size, are located all across Hubland campus. They get mowed only once a year and feature, for example, insect hotels, piles of rocks and deadwood.
  • Public relations activities and citizen science: Interpretive signage next to small biotopes and special types of biotopes provides information about the importance of biodiversity and the measures taken to enhance biodiversity on Hubland campus.
    Everyone is invited to record what animals and plants they have seen on campus and to share this information with the ‘Lebendiger Campus’ initiative.

Funding and volunteers

The initiative is currently receiving funding from the ‘Universitätsbund’ society of the friends and patrons of the University and the ‘Würzburger Umweltstiftung’ environmental foundation. The members conduct their activities for the initiative outside of their regular work hours.

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The first Plastic Summer School took place in 2018 on the initiative of Dr. Frauke Fischer, Faculty of Biology. Plastic pollution is doing great damage to our environment. This is why more than 20 students have developed ideas to reduce the plastic waste we produce at the JMU.

Deep insights, thinking about our own habits

Although most of the ideas developed cannot be put into practice by the University itself (e.g. switching from disposable to reusable coffee cups), the summer school is a great opportunity for students to gain deeper insights into the issues of recycling, resource scarcity and the sustainable use of resources as well as to think about their own habits.

The second Plastic Summer School, which took place in the 2020 summer semester, had to move to a virtual format due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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