“Sustainability is about making sure that our planet can heal and continue to support humanity”
Health science is studied based on the social, ecological, and economic dimensions of sustainable development. As a student on the programme, you work with some of the global goals in Agenda 2030. To battle climate change is presented on the programme as a fundamental societal challenge as it affects goals within health and equal opportunity as well as goals relating to ecosystems and biodiversity. Maria von Zweigbergk’s interest in these big global issues motivated her to acquire new knowledge.
What would you say is the biggest societal challenge?
“Definitely the environmental problems. We use more resources than our planet can provide and we must all make major changes to our lifestyles. The planet must be given a chance to recover and heal in order for the climate changes not to make the planet an uninhabitable place for our children and grandchildren in the future. This is a major challenge and we must all take responsibility and rich countries must help poor ones”.
How would you like to contribute to a solution?
“Knowledge is important and I’m glad and grateful that I’m acquiring this. In my family, we eat vegan food, most often organic, we sort our waste and use a compost, we mostly ride bicycles and drive an electric car. Everyone can do something, we must all contribute. It is important that everyone comes to realise this and stop thinking that the small things do not matter”.
Where do you find your commitment for sustainable development?
“From a global perspective, sustainability to me is about making sure that our planet heals and can continue to host humanity. Sustainability is needed everywhere, in professional life, in relationships, in consumption and production, and in physical and mental health. A sustainable work situation is crucial to everyone. I’m concerned about the fact that many people working in the health care sector in Sweden today cannot cope any more. That is also one of the reasons why I decided to start studying again, despite the fact that I have a thorough education and a permanent employment within a field that I’m very interested in”.
Was it important when choosing what to study to have a connection to sustainable development and equal opportunity?
“No, I didn’t really have that in mind when applying. Or perhaps I did, unconsciously. I became interested in all aspects of the programme’s content, so it was probably much more important than I realised”.
How come you became interested in health science?
“I’m a midwife and have been working at the maternity ward in Kalmar for 17 years. I felt that I wanted to take a break from this work and learn something new. I’m interested in women’s health and the big global issues. In 2014, I worked as senior midwife at a women’s clinic in a refugee camp in South Sudan. During my time there, I acquired in-depth knowledge and an insight into injustices in the world”.
“I’ve also had the pleasure of being supervisor for midwife students for many years and the contact with the university is inspiring. I started thinking about becoming a teacher on the midwife programme”.
Why do you find this subject so interesting?
“My interest in health science has become clear now that I have read up on the complex issue of health through my studies. I have come to realise that this is a key issue within many different fields. When we talk about politics, economy, the climate, diets, or exercise we indirectly talk about health. As a matter of fact, more or less all conversations that I have with friends and family somehow relate to health. How can one not be interested in health?”
What is the best thing about the programme you study?
“Having worked for 22 years it feels like luxury to get to study. It’s a privilege to commit yourself full-time to taking part of new, interesting research, listening to exciting lecturers, and getting to examine the concept of health from a multitude of perspectives. It is incredibly interesting and exciting to have course mates from all over the world. It has turned out just the way I hoped it would. I’m the only student from Sweden, and I like it!”
What is your dream job?
I already have my dream job, midwife. I would make me very happy if I could get to combine my newly-acquired knowledge about health with my profession and do humanitarian work abroad. To train new midwifes to enable them to work in Sweden and around the world for the good of women’s and children’s health would be a fantastic way to get to contribute”.
More about the master’s programme in health science
Learn more about the master’s programme that takes both the individual’s and the planet’s health seriously!
Health science, master’s programme
Elin conducts research for a sustainable sea
The Baltic Sea is a sensitive sea, long affected by eutrophication, environmental toxins, and over-fishing. In addition, climate changes are expected to worsen the situation further. At Linnaeus University, a number of researchers work to improve the health of the Baltic Sea in different ways. Elin Lindehoff is one of these researchers. She studies microalgae in the sea, and together with her colleagues she has demonstrated how these algae can be cultivated to recycle carbon dioxide and to clean sewage water.
What is the state of the Baltic Sea today?
“The Baltic Sea is still one of the world’s most affected and polluted seas. Its condition is not great. In the southern parts of the Baltic Sea, the greatest threat is eutrophication and over-fishing. In the northern parts, environmental toxins like heavy metals and PCB, from places where there were heavy industries earlier, are the greatest problem. In addition to all this, there is the climate change, and higher temperatures and more rain during winters is expected to contribute to more eutrophication in the southern parts and higher water flows from rivers and streams in the northern parts, that bring with them partially decomposed plant parts and pollution”.
“At the same time, much is being done to improve the state of the Baltic Sea. For instance, many improvements have been carried out within the agricultural sector concerning the handling of fertilization, and many industries have become much better at cleaning their emissions. We can also see that several important species that were formerly outcompeted are now coming back. Either on their own or through reintroduction. This is the case for, among others, bladder wrack and eelgrass”.
What does the water research at Linnaeus University focus on?
“It deals with the entire nutrient chain in the Baltic Sea, from the very smallest microorganisms like viruses and bacteria to fish and birds. In our research environment, we study, among other things, how biodiversity is affected by the climate change and human activities around the Baltic Sea, and what consequences this has. You can say that we conduct research for a healthier sea”.
Tell us about your research!
“My colleagues and I work with microalgae. That is to say, microscopic unicellular plants that grow freely in the sea. We study how these can be used to clean both water and air, since some of these microalgae can be cultivated quite successfully. A great thing about this is that in order to grow and increase their numbers, they like to eat stuff that we want to get rid of. For instance, nutrients that can be found in industry sewage water and leachate water from landfills. Thus, by cultivating the microalgae in such environments, they pick up the nutrients before they enter the Baltic Sea, contributing to cleaner water. The microalgae also need carbon dioxide to grow and this is provided by industry flue gas. Through a collaboration with a concrete industry, we have been able to show that by bubbling their flue gases in an algae cultivation, the level of carbon dioxide decreased by 40–60%”.
“One of the benefits of microalgae is that you also get a product, a biomass, which can be used in a number of different ways. For instance, as fodder or biofuel. I often describe it as a thick, green Nutella paste. In our project, we have tested using it as fodder supplement for laying hens, and this has been very successful. In this way, we can make additional use of the microalgae. Thus, there is not only ecological sustainability in this but also economic sustainability”.
“In another part of the project, we study how blue mussels can be used to clean seawater. The blue mussels like to eat microalgae, which in their turn have eaten nutrients. Thus, by cultivating mussels in the sea and then harvesting them, we also remove nutrients from the sea”.
How do your students work with sustainable development?
“We have students primarily within biology and environmental science. They work with very concrete environmental issues, like, for instance, developing new types of biological and environmental engineering solutions to carbon dioxide and nutrient emission problems. Many of them do their degree projects on topics relating to biodiversity and environmental threats”.
What will the Baltic Sea be like in 50 years?
“I think the state of the Baltic Sea will have improved compared to now. Enormous efforts are being made to restore a good ecological status in the Baltic Sea, and in 50 years I think we will have achieved this. But it is crucial that all of us who live around the Baltic Sea work together and contribute with ideas and knowledge. Many of our old sins in the form of emissions from industries and agriculture contributed to the standard of living we enjoy today. It is important that others do not go down the same path. Instead we must work together to come up with new cleaning methods and better solutions”.
More about the research project Algoland
Learn more about the project Algoland that focuses on biological solutions for cleaning air and water.
The research project Algoland
More about the research within water environments in the Baltic Sea
Learn more about the research environment in which Elin and her colleagues conduct research for a healthier sea.
Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems
This is how we work
In addition to the work we carry out for a sustainable future within education and research, we also want to practice what we preach!
Did you know that….?
- All energy that is used in our facilities comes from renewable sources.
- Many of our offices are LGBTQ certified.
- We have our own solar energy production on the roof of the university.
- We take part in Växjö Pride and Kalmarsund Pride every year.
- We have green roofs on university buildings in Kalmar to promote biodiversity.
- We have environmental stations for differentiated collection of waste in our buildings.
- Our toilets are gender neutral.
- All food waste becomes biogas.
- We have gender neutral shower rooms.
- We offer our teachers to take the course “Learning for sustainable development” to increase integration of sustainable development on our courses and programmes.
A university with equal opportunity
Our goal is that students and members of staff should feel included and safe in their study and work environment. Therefore, we work continuously to create equal opportunity for everyone. Each year, we carry out activities to reduce any risks of discrimination and increase equality for both students and members of staff. In 2019, we carried out more than 200 different activities!
Here are some examples:
- We have carried out training sessions to increase knowledge and awareness about discrimination, equality, and sexual harassment.
- We have worked to make our communication more available and to reflect the diversity found at the university. We have, for instance, reviewed what photos are used in the university’s education catalogue and on our website.
- We have reviewed and analysed course literature at two departments to create a more diverse and equal representation.
- At some departments, we have analysed the allocation of job tasks to reduce the risk of having some members of staff carrying out less meritorious job tasks.
- We have opened up a meditation room in Kalmar for members of staff and students. A quiet place without any links to religion or other belief.
- We have analysed a number of outcomes of allocation of research funds based on gender.
Important to report discrimination!
Norms, prejudices and stereotypes can lead to both intentional and unintentional discrimination of other people. This takes place throughout society and Linnaeus University, unfortunately, is no exception. Discrimination, harassment and other negative treatment often take place in the shadows. Therefore, it is important that you make contact or file a report yourself if you or someone you know have been subjected.
We have zero tolerance of sexual harassment, discrimination and other types of negative special treatment and we investigate all cases that are reported to us.
Least possible environmental impact
Linnaeus University has a strong profile in environment and sustainability. Through the knowledge that is created on our courses and programmes and through our research, we contribute to the necessary climate conversion.
However, as an organisation, we also want to be a role model by reducing our own emissions of greenhouse gases. Therefore, we have signed a national climate framework together with other universities and university colleges. This means that we take it upon ourselves to contribute to society meeting established objectives and that we will reduce our own climate impact in line with national and international agreements. Learn more about the Climate framework (In Swedish)
Examples of measures to reduce climate impact:
- We have good support and working methods for digital meetings and distance education to reduce climate impact from travels.
- Our members of staff always travel by train between Kalmar and Växjö.
- In order to promote sustainable travel to and from Kalmar we run the EU project “Sustainable travel choices Kalmar” together with Kalmar municipality. Learn more about the project on the website Sustainable travel choices (In Swedish).
- In order to reduce the climate impact from travels in Kronoberg we take part in the EU project “Sustainable mobility in green Kronoberg”.
- When we book rental cars and taxis we always choose environmentally friendly vehicles.
- Many of our own transportation vehicles run on biogas.
An environmentally certified university
Being a government authority, we are obligated to have an environment management system to keep track of and carry out follow-up of our measures to improve the environment. As quality-assurance of our environment and sustainability work, this environment management system has been certified in two steps:
Each year, we carry out both internal and external environment reviews to ensure that we follow-up this work. The work is also summarised in an annual sustainability account.
Course for teachers: Learning for a sustainable development
How can education in my subject contribute to a sustainable societal development? How are environmental issues linked to economic and social issues? What knowledge and skills will be required to meet the challenges of tomorrow?
The course provides an introduction and a fundamental understanding of the subject sustainable development. It is offered every year to teachers from all fields of subject. It is a unique opportunity to meet across disciplines and learn from each other’s seminars, lectures, and texts relating to the big challenges of the future. The course participants contribute with the content through their knowledge and experience from their own fields of subject and are given a lot of opportunity to develop their own teaching, in the form of a project assignment.
Do you want to learn more?
Learn more about the course Learning for sustainable development, 3 credits
Registration and questions
Contact the course coordinators Johan Älvgren and Sofia Jönsson Ekström, coordinator for sustainable development, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organisation and goals
The sustainability work affects all parts of Linnaeus University, both within academia and the University Administration. The overall work is coordinated from the Executive Office, through coordinators for sustainable development and equal opportunity.
In 2020, we work to establish new sustainability goals based on Agenda 2030 and Linnaeus University’s vision 2030. Until these new goals have been decided, the existing goals apply for the sustainability work.
Reports and accounts
- The university’s sustainability work is presented annually in a separate sustainability account.
Sustainability account 2019 (In Swedish)
Sustainability account 2018 (In Swedish)
- The work at universities and university colleges to promote a sustainable development – a thematic evaluation, part 1 (In Swedish)
- The work at universities and university colleges to promote sustainable development – a thematic evaluation, part 2 (In Swedish)
- Linnaeus University’s direct and indirect environmental impact is mapped out in an environmental study.
Linnaeus University’s environmental study 2018 (In Swedish)
- Report: Accounts of sexual harassment and assaults at Linnaeus University. (In Swedish)
Agenda 2030 and the global goals
Linnaeus University has an important role to play in the work to meet the global societal challenges. Our work is based on the global sustainability goals in Agenda 2030 and permeate all our operations.
Agenda 2030 was ratified by the UN’s member countries in 2015. It is a universal agenda consisting of 17 global goals for sustainable development. Through these goals, we should have made great progress in the world within four different areas by 2030:
- To eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere.
- To reduce inequality and injustice in the world.
- To promote peace and justice.
- To solve the climate crisis.
At Globalamalen.se, you can learn more about the Global goals and Agenda 2030.