What was the project about?
Higher Education Institutions (HEI) play a vital part in ensuring a sustainable development of our society. They educate the future generations of leaders, experts and teachers to become change agents, they research on how a sustainable world is possible and have an organizational responsibility to set a good example. To institutionalize sustainable development at HEI is therefore a very complex and challenging effort. On the one hand it is necessary to fathom the own institutional and personal involvement and to ensure the important disciplinary orientation one the other hand one has to be enhance the scope of action and potential reference of sustainability topics. This is the spectrum in which HOCHN-Institutions are researching together in their network, which is open for other HEI.
The main goal of the HOCHN project is to foster sustainable development at HEI in Germany in all of the following fields of action. Four sub-goals are defined to structure these endeavors:
1. Establish a program-based network for the exchange of experiences
2. Establish a shared understanding of sustainability
3. Foster means for a sustainable development of HEI
4. Develop guidelines for sustainable development at HEI
Fields of action
In November 2016 11 HEI started a common project for application-oriented research on sustainability in the following fields of action:
- Sustainability Reporting
- Teaching & Education
The research for each field is executed by at least two universities working together. The results are gathered and integrated into the project as a whole in regular common events. In our open process we emphasize networking, peer-consulting, exchange of experiences and knowledge as well as the testing of collaboration-methods. The network is supported by an internationally cast consulting committee consisting of relevant actors in the scientific field and from student-led sustainability initiatives. Our findings, good-practice examples and case studies are all integrated into our thematic guidelines for a sustainable development of HEI. They are meant to serve our network and other HEI as an aid for orientation in this process.
In connection with the development of a shared understanding of sustainability we also strife to broaden our network. At the end of 2018 we reached more than 100 German HEI participating already at different levels in HOCH-N. Sustainable development must be conceptualized in a global context. Our efforts for more sustainability in the field of higher education institutions with HOCHN are therefore connected with international networks. The management of our network and coordination of the project lies with the Center for a Sustainable University (KNU) of Universität Hamburg. HEI that want to orient themselves towards a more sustainable future are welcome to affiliate themselves with the HOCHN project and become partner universities.
Project runtime and funding
HOCHN is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) from 11/2016 to 10/2020 and connects to existing results from the BMBF-framework FONA (research for sustainable development) and the BMBF-initiative “sustainability in science” (SISI). With the goal of finding new ways apart from the already well known the methodic approach will focus on innovative dialogue and collaboration methods.