The University of Oslo: Connecting people and disciplines to solve complex problems

How can a university best contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals? The University of Oslo’s research leads to new knowledge and innovations. However, our students make the greatest long-term impact for society. The younger generations demand knowledge for creating a sustainable future, and they are currently transforming the public discourse and political debate.

Every year 5000 students graduate from the University of Oslo. They take on jobs in the private and public sector, some become researchers, some become politicians, and others start their own businesses. Their knowledge and mindset are what ultimately make changes happen. Our aim is that students graduate with strong academic knowledge and critical thinking, but also with a sustainability mindset, and richness in perspectives. 

 

From student to social entrepreneur 

In this film, you meet Kaja Ahnfelt, one of our candidates who became a green entrepreneur and founded Restarters Norway, inspired by her master thesis topic. The social enterprise helps people learn how to repair their broken electronics and rethink their consumption through Restart Parties. Their work is directly linked to SDG # 12 Responsible consumption and production.

 

Fostering collaboration across disciplines   

The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs are complex. How do we understand the connections, tensions and sometimes conflicts between the goals? How do we balance economic growth with responsible consumption and production, how do we secure energy for all, while at the same time combat climate change?

Connecting people, disciplines and institutions is key to understand such complex mechanisms. That is why we have established three major interdisciplinary priority areas aimed at fostering collaborative research and education:

  • UiO:Energy focuses on the transition towards secure and sustainable energy systems
  • UiO:Life Science addresses societal challenges related to health and the environment
  • UiO:Nordic works on Nordic responses to global challenges

In addition, the interdisciplinary Centre for Development and the Environment hosts the Oslo SDG Initiative, acknowledging the importance of cooperation and partnership for the goals in Agenda 2030.

In this film, you also meet Professor Wenzel Geissler. He heads an interdisciplinary group of researchers working together to understand the impacts of toxic pollution across societies and ecosystems. The research project, ‘AnthroTox’, is part of a larger research agenda of UiO:Life Science, called Convergence Environments, which brings together diverse groups of researchers to understand complex challenges within health and the environment. The project ticks off on half of the SDGs.

 

Connecting research and practice   

 Capacity building in the Global South is important to achieve the SDGs. One example, highlighted by Professor Kristin Braa in this film, is a global movement to strengthen Health Information Systems in Developing countries (HISP). Through this project, we contribute to strengthening countries’ national health systems and their ability to better respond to people’s health needs. It contributes to both SDG #3 Good Health and Well Being and SDG #10 Reduced Inequalities.

 

Building sustainable cities

Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. In the film, you meet Professor Per Gunnar Røe, who research sustainable city planning and urban architecture. He also heads a new initiative, Oslo City Studio, which invites students to work together to solve sustainability problems in our city. In this way, we contribute to reaching SDG #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities. The university is working closely with the city of Oslo to contribute to solutions locally, such as building a greener industry through research and innovation, and by reducing the university’s climate footprint. Oslo is Green Capital of Europe from 2019, a title earned because of its ambitious and transformative climate goals.

The University of Oslo has researchers and study programs within most areas. The examples showcased in the film are just a taste of the multitude of SDG related work at the university. Please visit our website to learn more.