The University of Tartu Centre for Sustainable Development seeks solutions for key societal issues arising from the ever-increasing conflict between the environmental planetary boundaries and the human impact. The centre brings together researchers and their expertise from the university’s four faculties and two museums and is a partner to non-university organisations.
Sustainable development means a balance between human and social well-being, cultural vitality, economic sustainability and preserving and recovering the natural environment. It involves intertwined topics, the problems of which can only be solved by drawing on the collective knowledge of various sectors and disciplines by cooperating and considering each other.
According to Margit Keller, Head of the Centre for Sustainable Development and Associate Professor in Social Communication at the University of Tartu, enhanced cooperation between different research fields is one of the key objectives of the centre.
“With the support of the centre, we want to make interdisciplinary cooperation easier and more visible both in and outside the university. We want to go deeper into this because new kinds of questions and solutions emerge at the borderline of scientific disciplines. We also aim to bring the aspects of culture and language and the topics of human health more prominently into the sustainable development debate.
Taivo Raud, the University of Tartu Director of Development, expressed hope that the centre will promote communication between researchers and policymakers, offering a synthesis of expert knowledge in different disciplines to meet Estonia’s important development needs. “The University of Tartu, as the only classical university of Estonia, has expertise in many fields of science. In the Estonian context, the centre therefore provides a unique collaboration platform for our partners.”
For example, people in Estonia speak increasingly more about integrated spatial planning, which covers land use, transportation, mobility, infrastructure development and people’s well-being. Collaborating with different research fields and partners makes it possible to offer science-based advice and support to the government and local authorities. Thereby it is possible in the development activities to consider climate change mitigation and adaptation, the quality of life of different social groups, biodiversity and the development of new technologies. A just transition in Ida-Viru county, for example, is an equally multifaceted issue, requiring the cooperation of various researchers; it implies long-term work on diversifying the economy and improving the quality of life in the region primarily associated with the oil shale sector.
The centre’s founders include the Faculty of Science and Technology, the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Tartu Museum, and the Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden. The centre is governed by a nine-member council representing our partners, the students and the Rector’s Office. Experts from all the university faculties will run the day-to-day work of the centre and also involve their colleagues so that the centre will operate as a network.
The official opening event of the Centre for Sustainable Development takes place on 13 December in the large hall of the university library. The event will be broadcast online on Worksup.
Futher information can be found on the webpage of the Centre for Sustainable Development.