Science for Sustainability

The degradation of nature and our environment is the greatest challenge that we face as a species. However, our ecosystem is so complex that it is unclear at what point the damage may become irreversible. How close we are to the tipping point? We just do not know. What we do know is that our natural resources are being depleted at an unprecedented rate. Things have only been allowed to get this far due to our own behaviour. And now it is up to us to come up with solutions.
The Science for Sustainability theme brings together all the disciplines that could help to secure the welfare of our planet and save its inhabitants. From biology to economics. From social sciences to natural sciences. Only by combining all these disciplines can we find answers to the biggest questions of our time.

And that process begins by expanding our knowledge. We simply do not know enough about how our climate is changing, and about how climate change will affect our ecosystems. What is the most sustainable way to use our natural resources? We also need to make major strides in developing the use of sustainable energy. How can we convert sunlight into energy as efficiently as plants do, for example?

But no matter how much we need answers to these questions, the answers alone will not be enough. At VU University Amsterdam, just as much attention is given to the social aspects of these issues. This involves challenges that are at least as massive. People living in developing countries are working hard to achieve the same standard of living as what we are used to in the West. And there is no reason why they should not, but the ecological impact is incalculable. Our society will have to take major steps to find a new balance. Science for Sustainability is about finding solutions for the future of the human race.

With our research and education, we want to make the world better. By focusing on education and research along the four profile themes, we encourage collaboration between different fields. VU Amsterdam offers various undergraduate programs that are associated with the Science for Sustainability theme.

During the 135th anniversary of VU Amsterdam, four anniversary conferences took place, including the conference ‘Science for Sustainability’.