At Arcada University of Applied Sciences (UAS), sustainability plays a key role in all operations: in education, in research and on campus. We checked in with two of our students, Raffay Sultan (Mechanical and Sustainable Engineering) and Dan Chi Duong (International Business), to learn more about how Arcada’s work on sustainability is manifested in their everyday student life.
Hi there Raffay, hi Chi! What does sustainability mean to you, as young students in today’s world?
Raffay: Through my studies, I have come to understand that sustainability is to provide solutions that reduce the use of natural resources, so that we can save some for future generations to come. This can be achieved by the concept of circular economy where we are trying to achieve zero waste by recycling almost everything after the completion of its lifecycle to the maximum extent possible. This, along with reducing our daily social and environmental carbon footprint, can help us save resources.
Chi: We have the opportunity to play a vital role in creating a more sustainable future for ourselves and future generations. Sustainability is not just about the environment – it is also about social and economic justice. This means working towards a world where people have equal access to necessary resources, and where economic systems are designed to support rather than exploit communities and the environment.
It is important for us as young students to educate ourselves about sustainability and the challenges caused by different societal, economic, and environmental factors.
You guys have already studied at Arcada for a while. How does Arcada work for sustainability?
Raffay: Arcada has already done a lot to be called a sustainable UAS. Arcada is working actively in accordance with UN’s sustainability goals. Arcada has for instance installed solar panels on its roof which amounts for 10 percent of the annual energy consumption on campus. Arcada has been certified as a sustainable campus by WWF green office, for working on eco-efficiency by reducing electricity, heat, water, and paper consumption. On campus, there are also separate recycling bins for various types of waste materials.
Chi: Arcada approaches sustainability from a comprehensive perspective which aims towards economic, cultural, and social sustainability. In addition to what Raffay mentioned, Agenda 2030 and the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) are emphasized in teaching, research and on campus. All study plans list the SDGs that they are connected to. There is also a plan for gender equality and equal treatment which aims at enhancing inclusion. Gender equality and the pursuit of ethnic and social diversity are among the cornerstones of Arcada’s efforts.
How is sustainability visible in your respective degree programmes, International Business and Mechanical and Sustainable Engineering?
Raffay: In Mechanical and Sustainable Engineering there is a detailed sustainability module. That is the thing that distinguishes this degree programme from traditional engineering degrees. In this programme, along with designing and manufacturing, impacts of a product on environment in usage stage are also being taken into consideration so that they can be dealt with in advance.
Students are made aware of modern-world issues by making them realise how important it is to reduce their carbon footprint to save nature from harm being caused by carbon emissions.
Chi: In the first year in International Business, we have a course where we are able to identify and describe the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as identify how they are related to each department in business and to the development of Nordic society as a whole. In addition, we learn to apply our understanding of sustainable development and ethical principles to concrete contexts in our profession. We discuss contemporary societal topics in a social, cultural, and political context, which develops our critical thinking.
Arcada has done an excellent job in taking action to align with sustainable development goals. Students learn the importance of being involved and taking initiative in ensuring a sustainable world for current and future generations.
Would you recommend Arcada from a sustainability point of view?
Raffay: I would recommend Arcada as they provide lifelong learning, including courses which equip students with the knowledge and skills required in today’s job market. They keep updating their study plans and courses in accordance with the needs of society. Arcada also equips students with basic Swedish and Finnish language skills which help them understand the Finnish culture better. For those who wish to include the perspective of sustainability in their studies, Arcada is worth opting for as an educational institution.
Chi: Yes, I would definitely recommend Arcada as they aim for sustainability as a whole. However, in my opinion, sustainability is not only the effort of a university, community or government but also of us as individuals. So, let’s take action and embrace the sustainability concept to ensure a prosperous future for all!