From Outreach to Partnership: defining the role of universities in achieving sustainability

AGS workshop, 15-16 October 2009 at the ETH Zurich

The AGS convened a workshop dialogue to discuss how universities and researchers can improve their partnerships with non-academic stakeholders in order to drive progress towards sustainability. The workshop was hosted by the ETH Domain Competence Centre for Environment and Sustainability with ETH Sustainability. 70 participants from the ETH, the ETH research institutes, and the other AGS universities, together with invited external partners from business, industry and civil society, discussed how researchers and external partners can better initiate and maintain partnerships that really implement the results of vitally needed research on environment and sustainability.

The workshop recommendations covered new research models, new teaching models, better ways of doing outreach within existing project management, and new roles for competence centers within universities as well as bridging platforms or fora. Participants felt that to really get incentives for change we need a cultural change within universities, as well as working on more capacity for better partnerships. An example of a lesson learned is that researchers must be clear about their goals vis-à-vis external partners, so that the exchange can bring greater value to both rather than just eating up more time and capacity. The dialogue will be continued, and the results of the workshop will be developed into a publication and a working paper.

More information at AGS-ETH website