There have been calls on social media for people to join school strikes against climate change starting on 2 May. Actions are also taking place at the Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences. A group of students that calls itself the Climate Justice Committee Velp has been active at HVHL since November last year. The group is making a number of demands and announcing demonstrations until these demands have been met.
The VHL Board has wanted to engage with the group from the beginning. VHL appreciates the urgency the protesters feel; ultimately, we are striving toward the same goals: a good future for the planet and its inhabitants. For years now, VHL has worked towards becoming the most sustainable university of applied sciences in the Netherlands. As far as the Board and the management are concerned, this is a process that takes place through dialogue, also with policy makers, without coercion or excluding companies where students can find internships or employment.
Two meetings with Climate Justice Committee Velp representatives took place in February and March. VHL’s approach has been to increase mutual understanding, with an attitude of curiosity towards the protestors’ motivations: where could we find common ground? VHL offered to co-host the upcoming Studium Generale, a meeting for employees and students, on the topic of the climate. This offer is still open.
Working together on sustainability is a prerequisite so we can increase the knowledge and insights that different sectors need and achieve the necessary transitions. VHL has a number of partnerships with companies that want to take steps in the transition to a more sustainable world. It is precisely here that there are opportunities for VHL researchers and students: the transitions in the field of climate, water, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity are the four pillars on which all VHL teaching and research are based.
VHL provides space for different views and perspectives, but it has its own position in the debate too. This position is clear. The university of applied sciences connects education and research to four necessary transitions: climate, water, biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture. This is also laid out in the Strategic Institutional Plan.
VHL regularly asks students and employees to contribute ideas on a wide variety of topics. The strategic institutional plan was created on the basis of dozens of interviews with students, employees, and a wide range of external partners.