Many people are already involved, but still not enough: The Fridays for Future (FfF) student initiative at Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) is a public initiative campaigning for the active creation of a climate-neutral campus and the incorporation of the topic of sustainability into the teaching program. It is also, however, very much involved in the national protest movement. Would you like to be part of the initiative?
At the start of winter semester 2019, it became clear to Svenja Zumkley that she needed to reorganize her priorities: “It was the student main meeting of the Fridays for Future initiative at TU Berlin which persuaded me to question my level of commitment and to get more involved,” says Svenja, student in the seventh semester of the Ecology and Environmental Planning program at TU Berlin. She is convinced that everyone needs to get involved in the climate protection debate. Twenty-four-year-old Svenja had long been interested and involved in environmental and sustainability issues – in part as a result of her studies. Her main area of involvement last semester in the FfF initiative (which was set up in spring 2019) was in the organization of the “TU for Future” series of lectures.
The core of the initiative, which is now a registered association at TU Berlin with its own board, consists of some 40 students. Members include representatives from all subject areas including natural sciences, engineering and business management. “It is really important for us, however, that everyone in the initiative has the same rights, so the initiative is organized along democratic lines,” says Svenja Zumkley.
Everyone wishing to take part attends the main meeting every Wednesday evening during the semester. “Members of the initiative report there on upcoming activities, there are delegate reports from the national and regional branches of the Fridays for Future Movement, reports on the status of negotiations with the Executive Board of the University and on the results of our various working groups. Everyone who attends is also invited to speak, to join a working group or to put forward their own suggestions,” says Svenja Zumkley.
The initiative is currently engaged in a number of activities: For example, it is developing its own recommendations for the climate protection agreement currently being negotiated between TU Berlin and the Berlin Senate. It also cooperates with the Scientists for Future movement at TU Berlin on organizing a series of lectures entitled “TU for Future”, the first round of which took place in winter semester 2019/20. During these lectures a wide range of questions were addressed: What are the main challenges of climate protection? What is being researched in the various chairs and what findings have already been made? Which climate protection measures are effective and what changes need to be introduced? The lecture series is scheduled to continue in winter semester 2020/21.
The initiative also calls for the TU campus to be climate neutral by 2030. The lists of demands has been discussed with the Executive Board in several rounds of negotiations. Mobilizing the movement is also part of the agenda: “Naturally we are interested in supporting the national Fridays for Future movement. There are a number of working groups whose task it is to mobilize as many students as possible before the demonstrations, to set up social media campaigns and so on,” Svenja Zumkley tells us. TU Berlin and the other Berlin universities as well as the Berlin regional group are working closely together on this.
“At a local level and in the direct negotiations with the Executive Board we are definitely achieving some small success and this motivates us. Nevertheless: Far too little is being done far too slowly for climate protection, locally, nationally, and globally,” say the students working in the initiative, looking to spur their fellow students into action.