Transitions to Low Carbon Living

Tag: universities

The Ekoln Letter: A conversation about universities in the era of climate change

In May 2020 the plan had been to bring together at Lake Ekoln in Sweden, a group of people who are all, in their own way, interested in the question of how we might rethink universities in the era of climate change. Some were professors working in universities, some were leading activists, some were doctoral students exploring the frontiers of new thinking, some were artists and facilitators of public conversations; some see themselves as educators others as climate researchers and others resist definition. We had hoped to go deep into the questions of what a university is, could be, can’t be and should be in a world of profound ecological harm and inequality. 

And then we know what happened next. The pandemic hit, borders were closed, and we were left, like the rest of the world, to work out what to do instead. In place of a three day conversation that had been intended to be as slow, as embodied and as reflective as possible to allow us to really learn from each other, we met online to speak in the strange flat world of the video conference. For none of us was this enough, and so the project you have in your hands (or on the screen) was born: a letter exchange, where each of us would write to one other in response to an initial prompt, attempting to speak honestly about our sense of where ‘the university’ might go in this era of profound change. The letter exchange lasted four months, a week at a time or more for each person, through the long summer of 2020 when all were navigating a new reality. The pieces were not written for publication, they are not polished, none have been edited, they were intended only for the recipient. On completion, however, we wondered if there was enough here potentially to be of interest to others exploring the same questions. 

So we share these letters with you, as an echo of a conversation that could have happened and as perhaps the beginning of different conversations, negotiations, collective experimentation with how universities might be otherwise. 

Feel free to write back and to join in, or to carry on and take this further.

New report calls for the radical restructuring of universities in era of climate change

What is required of universities in face of climate change? Read the new HEPI report by Keri Facer to find out!

Zennström Professor Keri Facer has called for the radical restructuring of Higher education and universities in response to climate change. You can read more on the website of the Higher Education Policy Institute. Or download the report here:


For more explorations and discussions regarding the role of the university in a changing climate, explore our work here.

Education, Universities and Climate Change

This is a set of quick links to some of our work on Universities, Schools, Education in general and Climate Change

Universities and Climate Change

Zennström Professor Keri Facer’s Inaugural Lecture on ‘Learning to live with a lively planet: renewing the mission of the research university’

A report from the Initiative on Internationalisation and Sustainability – is it possible to square these two agendas?

A keynote from Keri Facer on Universities and the SDGs to the Transforming Higher Education for the Future (IAU) Conference in Puebla, Mexico, November 2019

A public debate on cities and climate change, with Richard Florida, at KTH Stockholm. Keri joined the panel to reflect on the climate implications of Florida’s proposals.

A public debate on universities and climate change – at Almedalen, with Professor Keri Facer, the Minister for Higher Education Matilda Ernkrans, Uppsala University Vice Chancellor Professor Eva Åkesson and the lead for Sweden’s Environment agenda, Dr Emma Nohrén.

A public debate on the role of science, industry and government in addressing climate change.

In Swedish – Universitetens roll för en hållbar värld – a public debate at Almedalen with Uppsala universitet, SLU, Karolinska institutet, Stockholms universitet, Handelshögskolan i Stockholm, KTH

What are the links beteween climate change and civic university agendas? A short post for the UK’s Higher Education Policy Institute

University Innovation Agendas – AIM Days and climate change – a report from Laila Mendy.

What sort of knowledge do we need to think about long term futures? Science and Futures in Government. A talk by Dr Claire Craig.

Are universities making the world worse? Education and research in an age of climate change . A panel discussion from Almedalen 2017 with Kevin Anderson, Josefin Wangel Weithz, and Johanna van Schaik Dernfalk.

General Education and Climate Change

A report from the Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures programme, led by Professor Keri Facer, which makes recommendations on Education and Climate Change

Four-part interview with Keri Facer, on the role of the future, the richness of the meanwhile, and desirable futures at the Constructing Social Futures Conference 2019 for Futuuri magazine. June 2019.

Education, Sustainable Development and the Challenges of Climate Change . CEMUS Spring Semester Introduction lecture 2016 with Professor Doreen Stabinsky.

Popular and Public Education

A report on the important role of transformative public education – public, dialogic, collaborative, transgressive – in addressing Covid-19, with implications also for climate change.

A report on a Legacy 17 workshop – a popular education strategy for addressing questions of sustainability.

Leading activity within Uppsala University

We have been working over the last year with the 2050 plan for the University Campus, supporting long term thinking about the link between climate change and university campuses. This includes events and consultation workshops.

Sustainability Talk on Campus Gotland, Uppsala University by Keri Facer. Building a University for the Common Good. March 2019.

Building a University for the Common Good? Addressing Climate Change Together

Addressing climate change will require partnerships across all sectors of society. This is a film of Keri’s workshop on Campus Gotland exploring how universities and communities might work together to address climate change.

It draws on Keri’s work as Leadership Fellow for the Connected Communities Programme which was a six-year-long programme of collaboration between academics and partners outside the university – local government, industry, charities, voluntary sector groups with over 300 projects across the UK. The main findings from this programme are here alongside a series of literature reviews providing surveys of the main approaches to co-production.

Another project – looking at how universities are failing to engage with and learn from minority ethnic communities – has produced a report and a set of important principles and guidance for universities seeking to create more diverse partnerships and collaborations.

Sustainability & Internationalisation Agendas in the University: How can they support each other?

Do you have ideas on how Uppsala University can be international and sustainable?

This workshop will be an open exploratory space for staff and students at Uppsala University that aims to understand the underlying drivers and desires for both internationalisation and sustainability, the potential sites of complementarity, and the possibility of Uppsala taking a lead in developing new and innovative practices of sustainable internationalisation. 

This workshop will be curated by the current Zennström Professor of Climate Change Leadership at Uppsala University, that will aim to understand the underlying drivers and desires for both internationalisation and sustainability, the potential sites of complementarity, and the possibility of Uppsala taking a lead in developing new and innovative practices of sustainable internationalisation. The outcome of the workshop will inform both sustainability and internationalisation strategies for the university.

Both students and staff welcome! Join us on October 28, kl 12-16:30 at Kollaboratoriet, Östra Ågatan 19. Lunch will be served.

Participation limited to 40 participants. Staff and students of Uppsala University only.  Click here to register.

Do you have examples of how other universities are already working on these issues? Tweet to @CCLUPPSALA or email Sanna Barrineau.

Learning to live with a lively planet

The renewal of the university’s mission in the era of climate change. A lecture from Zennström Chair of Climate Change Leadership at Uppsala University, Keri Facer. October 1st, 18.15 – 19.30 in the University Main Building, Room X

Sign up on MedfarmDoit

Come along for an evening of mingling and reflection with researchers, students, climate advocates, and members of the public to explore the role of the university in face of climate change. Join the mingle from 17.45 outside the lecture hall.

Keri Facer is Professor of Educational and Social Futures from the University of Bristol, UK. She holds the Zennström Chair of Climate Change Leadership at Uppsala University from 2019 – 2020.

Not in Uppsala? Join the lecture on our livestream or watch the recording which will be uploaded shortly afterward.