University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons shapes the university’s development in a responsible manner in accordance with the principles of sustainable development (SD). To this end, it integrates the SD values in its management and support tasks as well as during the fulfilment of its service mandates. With the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations (UN) in autumn 2015 and their incorporation in Agenda 2030 by the federal government, there are now official guidelines on the specific objectives to be achieved via SD. University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons contributes to the implementation of Agenda 2030 and to ensuring the provision of inclusive, equitable and high-quality education (SDG 4). Within University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons itself and – through its teaching and research activities – in external organisations (society), it contributes to ensuring long-term, inclusive economic growth that leads to productive full employment and humane work for everyone (SDG 8) through the application of the principles of SD. The objective is to support the employees and students of University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons in various projects with respect to their sustainability expertise, i.e. design skills for the implementation and integration of SD in their tasks (see de Haan, 2008). They know, for example, the SD three-pillar model and are able to reflect on their activities and specific areas of responsibility from the perspective of SD. They apply the three-pillar model and principles of SD during the implementation of their work and management tasks. In doing so, they live out and create sustainable values and create a culture of SD within their areas. University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons regularly reports on its progress.
In September 2023, employees, lecturers and students of the UAS Grisons negotiated the most important aspects of sustainable development at the UAS Grisons together with their most important stakeholder groups. This resulted in the Declaration on Sustainable Development, which covers all areas of the UAS. It forms the basis for the sustainable development of the UAS Grisons in the coming years. The method used to develop the sustainability declaration is briefly explained below.
The aim of the event on 11 September 2023 was for the university community to confirm its commitment to sustainable development in a participatory process. Participation was open to all employees, lecturers and students of the UAS Grisons. No special prior knowledge of sustainable development was required for participation. Representatives of the most important stakeholder groups were invited as external guests. These included the Office for Higher Education of the Canton of Graubünden, NGOs, the scientific community and business associations. The external and internal (employees and students) stakeholder groups presented their requirements and expectations of the UAS Grisons with regard to sustainable development. As these expectations inevitably involve conflicting goals and the UAS Grisons cannot meet all requirements, the requirements had to be prioritised. For this purpose, the participants were divided into the various working groups Teaching, Research and Services, Central Services, Vice-Rectorate and Rectorate and University Management according to their functions at the UAS Grisons. The students were part of the "Teaching" group. In these groups, they discussed and determined which of the requirements were most important for their functions and roles. They also negotiated what contribution they themselves can and want to make, e.g. via their functions. The event concluded with the presentation of the requirements defined as essential to the university management. The university management discussed and prioritised the requirements and unveiled the final sustainability declaration on 27 September. In the next step, the Sustainable Development Thinking and Action Area will work with the Sustainability Commission and other responsible parties to develop measures for implementing and operationalising the sustainability declaration.
In the key research areas of Tourism, Infrastructure and Regional Development, sustainability is integrated as a cross-cutting issue. The research field of Corporate Responsibility addresses various issues relating to responsible corporate governance and entrepreneurial sustainability. The research thus also meets one of the six PRME principles by committing itself to improving knowledge about the role, dynamics and impact of companies in creating sustainable social, environmental and economic values.
The following examples show where the responsibility for sustainability co-determines the research activities of University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons and permeates them as a cross-cutting issue. The megatrends provide us with the desired tailwind here.
The sixth goal of the United Nations (UN) Agenda 2030 pursues measures relating to clean water and sanitation facilities. University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons believes it has a responsibility to contribute to the achievement of the 17 SDGs. On 1 July 2018, it officially committed to becoming a Blue University and in doing so undertook to comply with the following principles:
- Blue Communities recognise water as a human right.
- Blue Communities are committed to ensuring that water services remain in the public sector.
- In Blue Communities, tap water is drunk instead of bottled water.
- A Blue Community supports international partnerships aimed at improving the supply of water by means of public-public cooperations.
The Blue Communities initiative was launched by the Council of Canadians, a Canadian organisation that promotes social and ecological justice.
With issues such as CO2 reduction, a shortage of resources and the energy transition in general attracting attention, sustainable and shared mobility are becoming increasing relevant in social discourse. The objective of the mobility projects of the Sustainability Committee is to make a contribution to ensuring that private transport in Chur (and Graubünden) is optimised and made more flexible through the provision of a large number of different, intertwining mobility offers. A platform should also be provided for sustainable project ideas.
Car-sharing pilot project
Employees who do not exclusively use public transport for business travel because this is not possible, appropriate or economically feasible can try out the offer of the car-sharing provider Mobility for one year with a business subscription.
Bike-hire stations in Chur
In cooperation with the sustainability officers of the Graubünden University of Teacher Education, University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons has launched a working group for the bike-hire system in Chur. The canton of Graubünden, the city of Chur and various mobility providers would like to together provide a comprehensive bike-hire system for Chur.
The “Sustainability in teaching” strategic initiative applies the PRME principles and incorporates global social responsibility values in its academic activities and curricula as they are presented in international initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact. The sustainable development module is thus taught in all business and service study programmes in addition to the specific modules (e.g. sustainable tourism). Among others, the objectives are to ensure that students are familiar with the most important principles and concepts of sustainable development and can incorporate them in their actions during their later professional lives. They should develop skills that allow them to actively implement sustainable development. This means that they understand the link between various modules in their study programme and the topic of sustainability.
On the basis of this expertise, University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons can offer sustainability as part of a comprehensive service offering.
Bachelor’s degree programmes
Building culture history, spatial and regional planning
- Civil Engineering
Geotechnology, timber construction, solid construction, transport, hydraulic engineering
- Business Administration
Business ethics, innovation management, leadership, sport governance
- Multimedia Production
Media ethics, minor in international and intercultural communication
Major in sustainable tourism and international development, environment and sustainability, sustainable development and tourism, qualification in sustainability, ethics in a globalised context, sociology, cultural sciences
Master’s degree programmes
- Tourism and Change
Corporate responsibility, sustainable tourism management, intercultural skills and socio-economic development through tourism, risk and crisis management in the tourism sector
- New Business
Corporate responsibility, sustainable business development, talent management, intercultural cooperation, change management
Further education programmes
Mountain Forest Project
Upon completing their study programme at University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, graduates receive a special gift that corresponds to the principles of sustainability: the Mountain Forest Project Foundation plants a mountain spruce above the Graubünden mountain village of Disentis on behalf of University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons for every graduate.
The planting of these trees aims to sustainably replace the avalanche barriers built decades ago at the forest edge. It has been shown that the location is capable of maintaining woodland and that a forest can be gradually established here that will in future take on the protective function of the existing barriers.
As part of the long-term cooperation between the Mountain Forest Project Foundation and University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, the first spade was put in the ground by University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons apprentices in summer 2018: over the course of two days, they planted 75 mountain spruce trees.
Follow the growth of the mountain spruce in the coming months as the volunteers travel back to Disentis during the project week in October.