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WTUC 2023 Opening plenary: Sustainable Futures: Global Trends and the Role and Responsibility of Technology Universities (Hybrid)

Tuesday 10 October 2023
09:00 – 10:30
Augustiner Kloster

Sustainable Futures: Global Trends and the Role and Responsibility of Technology Universities

Congress Overview:

The 2023 Congress will explore global trends via our diverse speakers and explore the role and responsibility of HE institutions in tackling the most complex issues of our time.

What part do technology universities play in the sustainability transition? If we accept that the world needs cutting edge research to address the complex environmental and societal challenges that it poses; to what extent should technology universities be held responsible for the influence and impact, they have in the development of sustainable practices?

Delegates are invited to reflect, share and challenge on a range issues related to sustainability, including the impact institutions have on their communities and places, the role of the UN SDGs in institutional strategic plans and the incorporation of green policies, sustainable campus master-planning (green-washing or genuine commitment), embedding sustainability in curriculum, teaching and learning; embedding social responsibility and a culture of local and global citizenship across communities and disciplines.

What are the unique challenges facing technology universities? What innovations are happening educate the tomorrows workforce of scientists, engineers, and citizens.  How does the focus on sustainability influence innovation and entrepreneurship. What factors will inform student decision making and how can HEIs respond to an increasing demand (and scrutiny) to demonstrate their commitment to living the values of sustainability? We invite speakers to demonstrate best practice and successful examples of embedding social responsibility, sustainable entrepreneurship, and a culture of global citizenship amongst their communities.

Introduction to plenary session by Chair: Prof Jens Müller

Confirmed Speakers:

Prof. Dr. Jens Müller, Vice President International Affairs and Transfer, TU Ilmenau

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anan Tongraar, Rector, Suranaree University of Technology

Prof. Dr. Shamsul bin Sahibuddin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student Affairs), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Prof. Uduak Archibong, Pro Vice Chancellor Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, University of Bradford


Prof. Dr. Jens Müller

‘TU Ilmenau – the Role and Self-Perception of a Technical University for a sustainable World’


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anan Tongraar, 

‘SUT Transformation journey to Innovation and Sustainable University’

Suranaree University of Technology (SUT) celebrates its 33rd anniversary with a transformative journey towards becoming an entrepreneurial university focused on academics, research, and entrepreneurship in its role to foster a sustainable future. The university’s core mission has centered around fostering skilled manpower, knowledge creation, and driving innovation in science and technology. An education platform has been developed catering learners of all ages, addressing the growing demand for professional skill development. The university emphasizes impactful research aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and collaborates with industries and communities to promote local sustainable development initiatives. The university is dedicated to co-operative education, work-integrated programs, and empowering students for future employability. SUT’s achievements encompass successful campus operations, enhanced educational management, and an expanded Credit Bank, providing flexible learning options. The university’s research output and intellectual property have seen notable growth, leading to tangible benefits in various sectors. Additionally, SUT has actively promoted startup culture and investment funds for student and alumni ventures. Embracing a long-term vision of becoming an “Innovation and Sustainable University,” SUT continuously strives to address global trends in sustainable development through research, education, and community engagement, reflecting its commitment to positive change and progress.

Prof. Dr. Shamsul bin Sahibuddin,

The Role of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Achieving Sustainable Future

The imperative to address global sustainability challenges has placed higher education institutions at the forefront of driving significant change. Universities in Malaysia are formed to carry out transformative functions of preparation of talent shaping, research and innovation and knowledge transfer and sharing.

In pursuing a sustainable future, universities have an active role in developing human resources that can contribute to achieving the Sustainable development goals (SDGs). This is done by incorporating the SDGs into the curriculum and integrating sustainability-focused projects. Students are engaged in real-world sustainability projects, enabling them to translate theoretical knowledge into practical applications. This interdisciplinary approach fosters talent qualities vital for navigating the dynamic landscape of sustainable development.

Higher education institutions serve as incubators for research and innovation exploration required to navigate complex sustainability issues. Research conducted within higher education institutions catalyses innovation and problem-solving. Researchers delve into sustainability-related challenges, offering insights into renewable energy, climate adaptation, circular economy, and more. Dissemination of research findings drives policy changes, technological advancements, and societal transformations, accelerating progress towards sustainability goals.

Furthermore, higher education institutions engage with communities to create meaningful impact. By addressing community-specific needs through partnerships and outreach programs, higher education institutions can help bridge the gap between theory and practice. By involving students and faculty in real-world projects in community-based knowledge transfer and sharing, they nurture a sense of responsibility, citizenship, and empathy, fostering a culture of sustainable development.

This presentation will discuss experiences and past stories according to the three functions of universities in Malaysia concerning sustainable development.

Prof. Uduak Archibong, Pro Vice Chancellor Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, University of Bradford

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) as a catalyst for sustainability 

The concepts of sustainable futures and EDI have a very close relationship in our organisations and our world. The scope of sustainability has gone beyond the environmental footprint to include the understanding of the impact of how we live today on the ability of all future generations to lead a good life. Sustainability also includes factors such as human rights, social responsibility, and links to SDG meaning that the scope of EDI and Sustainable Futures have continued to overlap.

An organisation’s sustainability strategy typically aims to help address some of the most pressing societal challenges of today. As technology universities work to reimagine their approach to sustainability, how do we leverage EDI to advance this course? How can sustainability and EDI work together? These and other questions will form the basis of my presentation.

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