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Why Your Education Needs to be Sustainability-Focused

Dr. Daniela Peukert
Professor of Design for Sustainability Transformation

Dr. Daniela Peukert, Professor of Design for Sustainability Transformation at Tomorrow University, talks about sustainability and its implications for the future

Find out how an education that incorporates the foundations of sustainability is vital for our future and yours.

Why does a future-proof degree need to include sustainability?

We live in times of multiple and complex crises with many environmental and social challenges. Climate change, pollution, resource depletion, biodiversity loss, social inequality, and other global challenges are among our planet’s most pressing issues. Addressing these challenges requires innovative solutions and a deep understanding of sustainability principles. From reducing waste and pollution to improving the quality of life for everyone, there are countless reasons why our society needs to become more sustainable. 

What does sustainability mean?

But sustainability is such a broad term — what does it actually mean? It encompasses many different aspects of human activity and its impact on the environment and society. For a better understanding, it can be divided into different areas, which are all interconnected. Environmental sustainability is focused on preserving the natural environment and its resources, ensuring that future generations will have access to clean air, water, and other natural resources. It involves reducing carbon emissions, protecting biodiversity, and preventing pollution. 

Social sustainability is focused on promoting social justice and equity, ensuring that all individuals have access to basic needs such as food, shelter, and healthcare. It involves promoting fair labor practices, addressing income inequality, and protecting human rights. Economic sustainability focuses on creating a stable and sustainable economy that promotes prosperity for all while minimizing negative environmental impacts. It involves promoting sustainable business practices, reducing waste, and investing in renewable energy. 

Cultural sustainability is focused on preserving cultural traditions and practices, promoting cultural diversity, and protecting cultural heritage. It promotes intercultural understanding, supports local communities, and preserves historical landmarks and artifacts. Technological sustainability is focused on developing and using technologies that promote sustainability, such as renewable energy sources, efficient transportation, and sustainable agriculture practices. It involves investing in research and development, fostering innovation, and implementing sustainable technology solutions.

Sustainability aspects regarding your career

Being able to cope with complex crises and sustainability problems will be a key future competency. A sustainability-focused, future-proof study degree can equip learners with the skills, knowledge, expertise, and resilience required to succeed in such a world. With the urgent need to address global environmental, social, and economic challenges, sustainability expertise can be a competitive advantage in the job market. There is an increasing demand for sustainability professionals in a wide range of industries, including renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, green building, sustainable transportation, and more. 

But sustainability expertise is valued in more than just these specific areas. In the future, it will be necessary for all industries to adapt to a changed world and the increased requirements in terms of sustainability. Many companies now recognize the importance of sustainability and are implementing sustainability practices in their operations. As a result, there is a growing need for professionals who understand sustainability principles and can help companies achieve their sustainability goals. 

Also, governments and non-profit organizations are prioritizing sustainability in their policies and programs to advance sustainability goals at the local, national, and global levels. A sustainability-focused degree can provide learners with the knowledge and skills necessary to tackle sustainability challenges and prepares them for corporate social responsibility, sustainability consulting, specific sectors, and further sustainability-related careers, which are expected to grow in the coming years.

How is sustainability included in ToU and our programs?

As one of ToUs core pillars, sustainability is tied into our programs in several ways. First, in various courses/challenges, such as Systems Thinking for Sustainable Development, Sustainability Foundations, From Recycling to the Circular Economy, Sustainable Operations & Supply Chain Management, Sustainable Business Modeling, Sustainable Design, or Sustainable Growth in which action-oriented knowledge and skills in the field of sustainability are acquired. 

Secondly, through the cooperation with sustainability-oriented practical partners (companies, NGOs, organizations) in the projects, on whose real-world problems the knowledge can be immediately put into practice. And third, by linking the content of the course topics and student projects with sustainability concepts and political and scientific initiatives such as the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the European Green Deal, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A bit about me

My interest in sustainability resulted from my first degree in integrated product design. Viktor Papanek, a pioneer of sustainable design, described the profession of industrial design as one of the most harmful regarding its sustainability-related impact. That's because designers significantly influence the materials, manufacturing processes, and user behavior in the design process. So I wanted to find out how to use this significant influence positively and wrote a Ph.D. in Sustainability Sciences. In my thesis, I explored the commonalities of both disciplines and how to use design and design methods in transdisciplinary sustainability processes. 

Currently, my research focuses on design prototyping and material metaphors and their impact on knowledge co-production in sustainability processes and developing a more-than-human-centered design approach. My role at ToU allows me to work with the next generation of entrepreneurs, designers, and change agents and support them with sustainable product and design expertise, as well as knowledge of UX and design methods and practical experiences. 

Tomorrow University of Applied Sciences offers a broad range of degree and certificate programs with a sustainability focus. Learn about these programs or speak with our Admissions Team to see how one of our degree programs will advance your career. 

Connect with Daniela on LinkedIn.

Dr. Daniela Peukert
Professor of Design for Sustainability Transformation
Dr. Daniela Peukert
Professor of Design for Sustainability Transformation

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