Universities rely on sortition

13. February 2023
teddy-rised / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Five universities from the German state of Saxony-Anhalt want to achieve net zero with a joint strategy. To this end, they have launched a cross-university joint project called "KlimaPlanReal". Randomly selected university climate assemblies are part of it.

The project is to run for three years and is funded with 1.6 million euros by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The goal is to reduce climate-damaging emissions. The process will be accompanied and evaluated by Magdeburg environmental psychologist Ellen Matthies. It is coordinated by Otto von Guericke University. The Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences, the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences and the Harz University of Applied Sciences are also involved.

Inventory analysis and greenhouse gas balance

In the first phase, each university will conduct an inventory analysis and draw up a greenhouse gas balance. In addition, so-called university climate assemblies are to develop recommendations with which climate neutrality can be achieved.

Half of the university climate assemblies will be made up of students. They will be supported by experts selected by the universities. The aim is to include expertise on the six topics of food, procurement, energy, biodiversity, commuting mobility and business travel in the deliberations. Mini publics and experts will then work together to develop recommendations for action, which will then be implemented and tested in initial pilot projects.

Participants randomly selected

"A special feature of this body is that it is not elected or appointed," says Christian Künzel, project coordinator at Magdeburg University. "There will be a democracy by sortition, similar to citizens' assemblies, where members are chosen at random. This procedure should help to ensure diversity of opinion, but also acceptance."

All interest groups will be involved in the climate assemblies: Professors, staff and students. Transformation teams will later implement the recommendations. At the end of the project, a report should be available to help other universities on their way to net zero.

Process will be evaluated

The entire process will be evaluated across the universities in order to identify obstacles and potentials for the transformation process. At the end of the project, blueprints for other universities will be derived from the findings and the best examples will be made available in a report.

Read more: KlimaPlanReal

Image licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0