December 18, 2023

Studies for Sustainable Future at the University of Eastern Finland

By Professor Tapio Määttä, Academic Rector of the University of Eastern Finland

I was appointed Professor of Environmental Law at the University of Eastern Finland in the autumn of 2000. In the early years of my professorship, I was involved in developing environmental studies at our university.

The result of this development, multidisciplinary environmental studies, proved popular among students, and they especially enjoyed being able to learn about different disciplines’ approaches to environmental issues.

A few years ago, the University of Eastern Finland’s multidisciplinary environmental studies evolved into a minor subject of its own, now offered under the name Studies for Sustainable Future.

The same course of development is also visible in my own field, Environmental Law. Today, an increasing number of researchers are talking about Sustainability Law.

This development is a concrete example of how universities can observe Sustainable Development Goals in their education and research.

At the University of Eastern Finland, the Studies for Sustainable Future examine the various dimensions of sustainability, as well as the links between them. The perspectives offered by different disciplines paint a comprehensive picture for understanding the complex origins and root causes of various environmental problems. During their studies, students look for solutions and approaches to sustainability challenges, and examine the prerequisites for finding and implementing them.

The minor subject is built around two compulsory courses and a range of thematic modules students can choose from, including Development and History of Environmental Problems, Solutions and Policy Instruments; Working Towards a Sustainable Future; Sustainable Economy, Consumption and Use of Natural Resources; Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Endangered Species; Use and Protection of Forests; Well-being of Environment and Chemicalization; Sustainable and Pleasant Living Environment; Sustainable Food Systems; and Human-Animal Studies.

The objective of the Studies for Sustainable Future is for students to understand the concept of sustainable development, recognise its ecological, economic, social and cultural dimensions, and understand the connections between them. Upon completing the studies, students will recognise the complexity of environmental problems and their underlying factors. They will also understand the role of individuals and communities as well as the significance of societal structures in the origins of environmental problems, and in solving them.

Throughout history, universities have played a pivotal role in identifying and responding to challenges faced by societies. In our time, matters relating to sustainability and green and just transitions are, without a doubt, among the most pressing issues.

Related News