Fair trade and sustainability in a german university

27.01.2016

​My university is situated in Germany in the south of Bavaria. It is a rather small one with about 5200 students at the moment and very young because it was founded in 1994 which is merely 21 years ago. Even though it has not a long history of several centuries, it has huge values that are carried. Due to the modernity and good organizational spirit there are a lot of projects realized to help not only the students but also the environment and people in the third world. In this blog entry I want to describe some measures connected with the University of Applied Sciences in Ingolstadt that are done to promote fair trade and point out where sustainability is taken into account.

Regarding fair trade activities the cafeteria is the main action platform for that. First of all they sell fair trade chocolate bars. Those are also available in our local one world shop, which only has fair trade products, but due to promoting and selling those products in a place where a lot of young students are, is giving the sales a boost and enlarging the customer base. But also the professors are aware of the fair trade topic. I witnessed myself in one course, which even had nothing direct to do with this topic, that a fair trade chocolate was promoted and even handed out as a sample to the students on own initiative.

The awareness is thus very high in this university. Furthermore the cafeteria only offers fair trade sugar for the coffee they are serving. The aspect that has in my opinion the biggest effect is that they serve 100 % fair trade coffee. From my researches where I asked the stuff of the cafeteria they told me that they sell about 100 liter of it every day and that is a good amount for such a small university and supports fair trade in a good way.

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Here I found a link to environmental issues. In cooperation with the ”Studentenwerk Erlangen-Nürnberg” who is responsible for our cafeteria, students evolved a business idea to prevent the constant use of one way usage coffee cups. Now there are coffee cups available that can be used for the whole lifetime to reduce waste. Those cups can be a bit designed by the buyer himself because of the fact that for every individual part of this cup the color can be chosen individually.

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Another attempt in this direction was made by introducing BPA free water bottles with the THI-design to use the water dispenser that the students’ union introduced recently in the main lobby of the university. As I learned during my studies, it is necessary to use three liters of water to produce one liter of water in a bottle. In many parts of the world there is a scarcity of water existing and a lot of people do not have access to clean water. It is therefore very important to be careful with this important resource. There is no calculation about it, but if only half of the students would use this water dispenser once every weekday for one liter instead of buying a one liter bottle, there would be an amount of 13.000 liters of water saved per week only by using this cleaned tub water. It exists even the option to add gas to the water or to have it cooled. The offered tub water is filtrated and fresh.

Another topic is related to energy and researches in different fields that are carried out. Next to the official degree courses like for example ”Technik Erneuerbarer Energien – Technologies of Renewable Energies”, there is also a whole institute coping with this topic. It is called the ”Institut für neue Energie-Systeme (INES)” and does partly process orders from companies, has governmental payed projects and also provides research and experiment material for students to give them a chance to have a practical part in their course of study. In addition to that the new building of the University of Applied Sciences in Ingolstadt has solar panels on its roof and contributes therefore to the production of electricity from renewable resources.

All in all I am very happy to study in a university where fair trade and sustainability is seen as an important aspect. My major is ”International Management” but I am still able to choose the focus on ”Green Technologies”, which I did and even the ones of my study field that chose another focus subject have obligatory modules including for example ”Sustainability Management” or ”Corporate Social Responsibility”. In times when global warming is a topic that is rising steadily in importance, the awareness about sustainability is vital for universities and an ethical part to provide to their students. I hope that this activity of my university in fair trade and sustainability will further increase and conquer the minds of our future society.

 

Br,

Isabel Wehner

Germany

Exchange student at TUAS fall 2015