27 July 2016

New Bachelor’s programme highlights sustainability on all fronts

The hugely popular Global Sustainability Science Bachelor’s programme taught in English at Utrecht University will begin in September. Over 150 students have enrolled. During the three year programme, students will  learn all about sustainability issues in a range of disciplines and how to view them from an international perspective.

Students from all over the world have signed up to collectively find solutions to these issues: What effect does climate change have on ecosystems and water availability? How can we sustainably manage energy and raw materials? What do you think about big policy decisions and the effect that sustainable development has on business?

Local, regional and global

Students will look at the interaction between man and nature at local, regional and global levels throughout the new English language Global Sustainability Science bachelor degree. The programme offers a balance between science and social subjects, and is therefore a good reflection on the work of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, a research institute that facilitates this training.

Sustainability is more positive

In the Bachelor’s programmes underpinning the new programme, Milieu-maatschappijwetenschappen (Environmental Studies) and Milieu-natuurwetenschappen (Environmental Sciences), environment was a central theme. “We learnt from the students that they feel more attracted to ‘sustainability’ than to ‘environment’” says Dr. Margien Bootsma, Director of Education. “The latter makes them think of air and soil pollution, or in other words, problems. Sustainability, however, is more positive, and is something they associate more with solutions. What’s more, pupils feel motivated by collaboration opportunities and interdisciplinarity, which is in line with how the Copernicus Institute works.”


Internationally, sustainable development is a vital subject. Bootsma: “We know we get a dynamic group of international students with the Sustainable Development master. For us, that is highly stimulating.”
As the issues have an international character around sustainability, it was decided to offer the programme in English. The courses in the new programme therefore focus partly on global issues. The university is planning to cooperate with foreign partner universities to offer third-year students ready-made packages. Importantly, many of the new teachers are not Dutch and many of the existing teachers lived and worked abroad for a long time.

Enthusiastic and divers

The substantial number of applications proves that the approach for this new bachelor works, both with Dutch and international students. Bootsma is looking forward to the programme’s introduction in September. “It is always nice to welcome a new group. I have already met many people through the matching sessions and I expect a very enthusiastic and diverse group.”

Sustainability at Utrecht University

By combining its expertise in the field of sustainability, Utrecht University develops integrated solutions for sustainability issues contributing to a better future for following generations. This theme connects Utrecht’s excellent sustainability research from the humanities, sciences and social sciences with a focus on water, energy and a healthy environment. Sustainability is one of the four strategic research themes at Utrecht University.

More information on the research theme Sustainability.