This document sets out the fundamental features of BOKU's understanding of sustainability as a whole. From the BOKU's point of view, it describes how sustainability is understood, what characterizes sustainable activities, and makes a commitment to the principles of sustainability. However, it does not in any way stipulate that all BOKU activities must be based on it. A further specification can be carried out by departments, administration and committees of the BOKU within this framework.

(German only)

Introduction and summary

The BOKU is committed to the general principles of sustainability in all areas of its work, i.e. in research, teaching, in daily operations (social responsibility, environmental management), in its organizational culture, as well as in the interaction between BOKU and society (knowledge transfer, social discourse, Public relation). In addition, sustainability is seen as a framework for strategic decisions. The general principles of sustainability include, among other things, resource protection / conservation, justice, resilience, systemic and interdisciplinary considerations, long-term maintenance of economic efficiency with simultaneous consistent consideration of social and ecological aspects (for more details, see appendix). All BOKU members are invited to contribute to the endeavor to achieve more sustainability at the BOKU by participating in sustainability measures and contributing ideas relevant to sustainability. BOKU alumni, business partners and the spatial and thematic BOKU environment are also included or invited to participate. The goals and measures of BOKU's sustainability work are subject to periodic reflection and revision in order to take account of current developments and improved possibilities for expanding sustainability activities.

1. Sustainability in BOKU research

In BOKU research, sustainability is viewed and promoted in three ways: (1) Research for sustainable development generates the knowledge base and possible implementation paths that society can support in a transformation towards more sustainability. This also includes innovative strategies, processes and procedures that make a significant contribution to sustainability. Research for sustainable development consistently observes the principles and dimensions of sustainability (see appendix) and is based - especially in applied research areas - on a systemic perspective that makes it possible to recognize the requirements of sustainable development in the respective fields of activity. In addition to disciplinary excellence, meeting this requirement often requires the use of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary [1] methods. (2) Research on sustainability develops theories and concepts of sustainability and reflects social sustainability processes [2] and the decision-making, adaptation and learning processes behind them. Research for sustainable development is also analyzed with regard to its specific methods, goals and effects in society. In addition, the BOKU endeavors to strengthen (3) sustainability in the implementation of research. Further more to taking account of ecological effects (see institutional principle), this also includes efforts to publish research results in a generally accessible manner and to make social and economic use of research results.

2. Sustainability in BOKU teaching

Sustainability-related teaching [3] is characterized by the consideration and communication of the content-related aspects of sustainable development as well as the Grand Challenges [4] and a critical reflection on unsustainable developments in society (sustainability as a thematic learning content). In addition, it also uses suitable didactic approaches to do justice to the high complexity of sustainability-related problems and issues. These include discursive, participatory forms of teaching, system and problem-oriented considerations as well as inter- and transdisciplinary approaches.

Sustainability-related teaching at the BOKU pursues the central goal of creating awareness and problem-solving skills for students for the goals and content of sustainable development - so that BOKU graduates are able to develop sustainable solutions for social challenges or to participate in related learning and decision-making processes.

3. Sustainability as an institutional principle at the BOKU ("Living Sustainability")

Sustainability as an institutional principle extends from sustainability in the organizational culture and strategic issues through interactions between BOKU and society to environmental management.

A sustainable organizational culture at the BOKU means giving space to active awareness-raising and reflection on sustainability and sustainable values. Mindfulness towards other people, social responsibility and the development of a "BOKU spirit" in this regard are essential points. This also includes paying special attention to and promoting the social and cultural activities of BOKU members (students and employees). Strategic course-setting for the future of the BOKU - such as development plans, tenders or new study plans - are also based on the principles of sustainability (see also Appendix).

At the BOKU, sustainability is a central element of strategic communication, knowledge transfer and public relations for the implementation of social responsibility as a university. This involves - both internally and externally at the BOKU - including the knowledge transfer (expert knowledge) and exchange, answering current questions from society, raising awareness and strengthening sustainable values ​​and cooperating with the economy. Internally, the BOKU pays attention to the participation of the employees in important decision-making processes as well as in the workflows of the three central university tasks of research, teaching and social tasks (e.g. further education, technology transfer, political advice etc.)

In addition, the BOKU continuously strives to improve environmental management in university operations (e.g. in the areas of energy, procurement, nutrition, mobility, etc.), which is also reflected in the regular environmental statements. It is also essential to meet the requirements of sustainability as far as possible in the implementation of research and teaching projects, e.g. by reducing CO2 emissions during research trips or attractive framework conditions for researchers.


[1] In the context of sustainability, interdisciplinarity is understood to mean cooperation beyond the boundaries of scientific disciplines - with the development of a common language, new methods and common issues (RESCUE, 2011).

Transdisciplinarity is used here according to the definition of the sustainability research program "Provision" of the Austrian BMWF as "that scientific work in which non-scientific partners contribute to the creation of knowledge, bring their problem view, their knowledge, their experience into research and thereby improve the effectiveness of science."(see:

[2] e.g. corporate CSR processes, local Agenda 21 processes, national sustainability strategies

[3] Or education for sustainable development (cf. Michelsen, 2006)

[4] "Grand Challenges" - global challenges: These include climate change, scarcity of resources (water, soil, non-renewable raw materials), food security, energy supply, loss of biodiversity, demographic change, social security, migration