Louise is committed to a sustainable EUR: ‘The university is the heart of change’

Between September and December dozens of employees, students and stakeholders took part in what EUR is calling Strategy Design Labs. Who are the people helping to shape Strategy 2024 and what is their motivation for participating? Erasmus University College student Louise van Koppen is a member of the Design Lab Sustainability.

At 22, Louise has been passionate about sustainability her entire life. ‘I was raised by my parents to be very conscious of the environment. I learned that we are all part of nature and we should treat animals and plants with respect.’ She took this outlook on life with her to Erasmus University College, where she followed the minor Think Green: Ecological and Economic Perspectives for a Sustainable Environment amongst other courses focused on the topic of sustainability. ‘It hurts me to see how we are ruining the environment,’ she says. ‘How ridiculous it is we are clear-cutting so much  forest, the way we treat animals just because we want to eat meat. We want more, more, more. More status, more prosperity. But in the meanwhile we are putting more and more pressure on our planet.’

Engagement for sustainability

It’s this passionate viewpoint that makes Louise such an  active and engaged student. Last year she was elected to the University Council, where she focused on sustainability. Now she is the chair of Erasmus Involved, a collaborative effort of sustainable student initiatives. ‘Students are the leaders of the future. That phrase is  used often, but without many people realising fully what it means:  these students will be running the country and the world, and that is why they need to be prepared for the challenges of the future.’

Sustainability as a strategic priority

It was through her position in the University Council that Louise got involved in the shaping of the Design Labs of Strategy 2024: she pushed for sustainability to be one of the seven priorities. ‘On the one hand I try to get students  enthusiastic about Erasmus Involved, which means I am reaching people ‘from the bottom up’, while strategy  formation is a way to reach important people at the top levels of the university. Via these two routes, I attempt to reach the large group in the middle.’

A clear signal

Louise is proud that sustainability is a serious priority in Strategy 2024. ‘It’s not an empty promise; the university is giving a clear signal that they are taking this to heart.’ The new generation of students are aware of its importance: ‘Students are seeking out sustainable universities – it fits in with the zeitgeist. So this is the truly the moment for Erasmus University to show its sustainable profile, and to portray itself in a sustainable manner.’

What Louise would love to do -if she could - is talk to everyone at the university personally to make them realise the importance of sustainability. Given the impossibility of such a task makes Strategy 2024 all the more important. ‘We need to set ambitious goals and form a community to influence as many key players as possible.’ She wants to spread the sustainability message through EUR’s faculties, councils and academic directors, and  is very proud of the Strategic Design Lab Sustainability: ‘We are ambitious and have a very positive mindset. We recognise we need to do more as a university and that this is the time -  the university is the heart of change.’