Towards a sustainable future

22.3.2019

Reykjavik University is shifting the gender gap in tech subjects and its operations have become even more environmentally friendly. These are among findings in a newly published report on RU´s achievements in reaching sustanability goals put forth in the United Nations' PRME collaboration.

By participating in PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) RU is committed to the education of responsible leaders. Participating universites deliver status reports regularly on their progress and RU recently published its third PRME progress report.

Equality

Enrollment of female students in technology subjects within RU has increased over the last few years. This is contributed to actions taken by RU such as hosting the Girls in ICT event, where workshops are organised and together with various tech companies, the girls' interest in technology subjects is sparked and stereotypes broken down. The project has grown constistently from the onset and the University will in the spring welcome its largest group yet. Moreover, RU is and constantly working with /sys/tur, the organisation within RU´s School of Computer Science for female students.

A woman gives a talk in a podium

From the opening ceremony of Student Equality Days in 2018.

An ambitious Equality Programme was published in RU in 2018 along with an implementation schedule, a comprehensive pay strategy and equal pay strategy, and job descriptions for all positions within the University. An equal pay analysis has been performed twice in cooperation with PwC with good results, showing that there is no gender bias in decisions regarding salaries within RU. The University will most likely receive the public Equal Pay Certification first among Icelandic universities and the results of the certification process should be available at the end of March 2019.

Environment

The threat of climate change is not just a distant possibility but a fact. RU has accepted the challenge of reducing its carbon footprint and signed an agreement with the City of Reykjavik where it committed to taking decisive action. Within the University, a group of employees form an Environment Group that defines goals according to the agreement and finds ways to reach them. The students have their own sustainability group which rasies awereness of recycling and transportation methods. All plastic single-use cups have been removed, the recycling processes were reorganised and introduced with a campaign within the University. Recently, RU opened 12 new charging stations for e-vehicles for the use of students and staff, and following transport agreements, staff has changed their transportation habits and an increasing number now uses public transport and bicycles to get to work. This coming summer, the much anticipated bicycle shelters in front of the University bulding will be set up.

A student explains a poster

Solving the problems: A first-year engineering student explains her poster about reducing carbon emissions.

Teaching

RU also emphasizes social responsibility in its curriculum and teachers are engouraged to confront enivronmental issues in their courses. In a three-week course where students put forth new business ideas a special award is now given for the most environmentally friendly business idea. In the courses Introduction to Applied Engineering and Introduction to Engineering, students have tackled the government´s proposal to combat climate change and tried to come up with solutions to various problems.