At Chalmers, we have always had the idea that sustainability concerns us all. If we are going to build a society that can provide 10 billion people with well-being within a few decades, it is not feasible to lock in sustainable development to such individual parts of the university as an educational programme or Department.
Instead, our stance has been to let our vision, Chalmers for a sustainable future, permeate all our activities; from undergraduate education and doctoral programmes, research, innovation and collaboration, to campus development and internal environment. For almost thirty years, all our students have taken a class in environment and sustainable development and had the opportunity to complete their studies with a sustainability profile. And by means of our eight Areas of Advance, all with sustainable development as a driving force, we are gathering skills and power, in collaboration with other actors in society, to tackle the large and complex societal challenges we are facing.
As a university, we have two especially important roles. First, there are few institutions in society with time perspectives as long as universities. There we have a responsibility, for example, in basic research, to train our curiosity on the unknown, possibly to find something ground-breaking that can be of crucial importance. But our most important role as a university is to build up the ability of our students, so we can gain the best position from which to handle transition over the next fifty years, when these students will be working.
The transition we are facing can be compared to the transition that took place when agricultural society developed into an industrial society. Now, industrial society needs to evolve into something much more efficient and accommodate human needs while generating significantly less environmental impact. This is where the responsibility of our university and our individual engineers lies. Partly in seeing how technology can be an enabler, but also in reflecting over societal consequences and ethical issues related to technological development in a global world.
Chalmers is a pioneer in regards to how a university can take on, work with and take responsibility for sustainable development. To maintain a high level of ambition and to be a pioneer, both courage and power are required. We all need to keep the following question alive and dynamic: what conditions and abilities do I need to develop in order to better contribute to a sustainable future?