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The University of Haifa launches its new vision: a commitment to social and environmental sustainability

The new vision of the University of Haifa is comprehensive and includes the entire avenue of its activity: in research, teaching and operation. It is based on the 17 goals established by the United Nations to ensure the sustainable development of humanity

Migdal Eshkol at the University of Haifa. Photo:
Migdal Eshkol at the University of Haifa. Photo:

The University of Haifa joins the leading bodies and institutions in the world and announces a new vision committed to social and environmental sustainability, in accordance with the 17 goals set by the United Nations for sustainable development (SDGS: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS). The University of Haifa undertakes to advance these goals first and foremost through research, teaching and involvement in the community, as well as through the ongoing operation of the university. "The University of Haifa sees social and environmental commitment as a strategic goal for changing the future of humanity and Israeli society. We pledge to take an active part in the great challenges of humanity in the 21st century and allow the entire university community: faculty members and students to take part in the opportunity to lead to a better world," said university president Prof. Ron Rubin.

"We are a university of the mountain-city-sea, which makes us unique and allows us to influence society, the environment and the person. We are unique and leading in our ability to combine research that deals with issues of social sustainability together with research that deals with issues of environmental sustainability, and therefore our ability to influence the social, cultural and community fabric of life in Haifa, in the north of the country, and in the entire State of Israel," said university rector Prof. Gore Elroy.

The new vision of the University of Haifa is comprehensive and includes the entire avenue of its activity: in research, teaching and operation. It is based, as mentioned, on the 17 goals established by the United Nations to ensure the sustainable development of humanity. These goals deal both in the areas of social sustainability, such as the fight against inequality, the fight against hunger, equitable education or ensuring equality in health, and in the areas of environmental sustainability such as clean energy, life on the land and under the surface of the water, and of course climate change. Each of the objectives consists of four-legged activities: research, teaching, community impact and operational activities.

"Our goal is to create a situation where the various activities at the university are intertwined: basic research will be integrated into activities aimed at influencing the community; The activity in the community will be integrated with the activity of students; The operations will be based on scientific knowledge and so on," said Prof. Alroy.

In the research field, the university announced the establishment of multidisciplinary centers, which will allow researchers from different and diverse fields to join forces. The centers that have already been established are the center for the study of inequality, the center for the study of environmental sustainability and the center for the study of brain and behavior. In the Center for Inequality Research, the first laboratory in the north of the CBS will be established, which will allow the university's researchers immediate access to the CBS data for the benefit of studies dealing in the field of inequality.

Also in the research field, a call will be issued every year for studies that will deal directly with issues related to SDGS. The first ten studies have already been selected from dozens of submissions, and they will receive special support from the university administration.

A similar call was also issued for new courses that will deal with social and environmental sustainability issues, with the winners also receiving special support from the university administration. Among the courses that have already won and will start in the coming school year, we can mention the course that deals with education on the climate crisis, a course that deals with legal law in the SDG era, a course on health and environmental policy, and more. In addition, the university is currently working on opening dedicated study programs in the fields of social and environmental sustainability.

An example of an activity that combines research, teaching and impact on the community is the "Sea Path" project, one of the flagship projects of the new vision. The "Hayam Path" is a joint project of the University of Haifa and a group of civil activists to establish a marked walking path along the entire coast of the country - from Rash HaNakara to Ashkelon. Beyond the investment of resources and academic knowledge, next year a course will also be opened that will deal with the environmental and social aspects of the Sea Trail, which will allow students to experience planning processes based on approaches and theoretical models of sustainability, and even take an active part in putting the theoretical models into practice.

All the social activities offered to students through the Dean of Students will also be SDG-oriented from now on. In addition, the university operates the sustainable program, a training center for social innovation and impact entrepreneurship, and the university's innovation labs, which also enable students to develop social entrepreneurship and impact entrepreneurship.

On the operational side, the university is already certified as a green campus, and is the only university in Israel that monitors and reports its emission indicators. As part of the new vision, the university undertakes to reduce its use of disposable tools, until a complete stop. The university even undertakes to build a new building according to a green standard and to install charging stations for electric cars. An intriguing project that is currently in advanced testing stages is the installation of solar panels at the university. The project will combine a research activity that will examine energy savings and the impact on the environment.

"Our vision is broad and touches the heart of our university's activity. We embrace it willingly, but it is also the necessity of the hour. The 21st century presents us with complex challenges and it awaits people with complex, creative and innovative abilities to lead us all to a better world. We believe that the changes we are leading now will allow us to be ready for challenges", concluded university president Prof. Ron Rubin.

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