Keele University launches new Institute for Sustainable Futures

Keele University has launched a new research institute to tackle the issues of sustainability on a local, national and global scale.

The Institute for Sustainable Futures will contribute to research, education and training that will have a positive impact on the long-term sustainability of our societies, environments and ecosystems across the world. From natural and social sciences, to arts and humanities, the Institute will encompass those who already explicitly research sustainability challenges, as well as collaborate with others to develop the sustainability of their work.

Over a hundred delegates gathered at Keele University this week for the launch of the Institute, to discuss its work and hear keynote speakers from organisations including the World Bank and the University of Manchester talk about some of the current global sustainability challenges and how research can contribute to addressing these.

Professor Chris Fogwill, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at Keele University explains:

“The Institute for Sustainable Futures will bring together a diverse range of people, with varying interests, who want their work to contribute to a more sustainable future. By bringing together different disciplines and stakeholders, and sharing different perspectives and expertise, we will be able to develop holistic, innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing sustainability challenges.”

The Institute will bring together academics, students, and both local and global stakeholders to identity the sustainability challenges that we face, and work together on solutions that will have real impact.  

Dr Zoe Robinson, Director of Education for Sustainability and Deputy Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at Keele University comments:

“Both research and education are at the core of what a university does and are closely interlinked. Further developing our research which contributes to creating a more sustainable future also has a positive impact on our students.

“This research informs our teaching, ensuring that students are learning about cutting-edge sustainability developments and debates. In addition, research-led student projects can contribute to sustainable solutions, using our campus as a ‘living lab’ and utilising our sustainable campus research infrastructure such as the Smart Energy Network Demonstrator, as well as providing opportunities to work with our business and wider communities on the sustainability challenges they face and the solutions to which they contribute.”

The Institute for Sustainable Futures will have six themes to its work, each framed around the applied sustainability challenges that our society and environment face, and mapped against the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The six themes are:

Dr Zoe Robinson adds:

“The Institute will build on our existing work to embed sustainability into every student’s degree, and further enhance the opportunities that students have to learn about the breadth of sustainability issues encompassed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, from poverty and hunger, to climate change action, though events such as our interdisciplinary seminar series.”

Professor Alice Larkin, Professor of Climate Science and Energy Policy at the University of Manchester and keynote speaker at the launch of the Institute comments:

“The challenges posed by the Paris Climate Agreement are unprecedented, and require novel research insights to deliver impactful and sustainable solutions in the near-term. Interdisciplinary research, where the social, physical and natural sciences come together to develop the research questions, and subsequently work closely to conduct analysis and disseminate findings, is critical to supporting this grand societal challenge. Increasing interdisciplinary capacity will be hugely beneficial to society, and is very welcome by those committed to delivering on the Paris goals.”

Dr Rashmin Gunasekera, a Disaster Risk Management Specialist at the World Bank in Washington DC and keynote speaker at the launch of the Institute comments:

“Implementing the 2030 Agenda, within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, is increasingly challenged by disaster risk as evidenced by Hurricane Maria in 2017. It is essential that all stakeholders—governments, the private sector, civil society, international organizations, and citizens around the world— bring to bear our collective knowledge, data, financing, and implementation experience to mitigate these challenges.”

For more information, visit the Institute website