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UZH Journal

Interdisciplinary UZH-i lecture series ‘Sustainability now!’

This in-sessional online course – organized by the Sustainability Team, the UZH Right Livelihood Center, and the UZH Interdisciplinary Commission – looks at global societal challenges and interdisciplinary issues, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, food security, resource scarcity, economic stability and social inequality. Each lecture focuses on an aspect of sustainable development, from working towards a world free of chemical weapons to fighting for women’s rights in India’s caste system. The talks are given by past winners of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’. The topics discussed in the lectures are subsequently debated in a panel discussion involving researchers from UZH and experts from the world of politics, culture and NGOs. 
The lecture series is open to the public, but participating Master’s students are also offered an accompanying course in which they can acquire workplace-relevant skills, such as how to research people’s biographies, how to prepare a moderated group discussion, how to write a thematic essay and how to pen a press release. “Students get the chance to experience a panel discussion from the front row,” says Aline Steinbrecher, Head of the UZH Right Livelihood Center. They also learn how a discussion involving representatives of different cultures and interest groups works, how researchers from different disciplines can engage in dialogue with experts in the field and citizens who are not familiar with academic work, and how moderators have to bring the diverse perspectives and opinions presented back to the core topic of sustainability.
The idea is also for students to be able to put prepared questions to panelists during the live debate, and thereby to have direct contact with the big names. “It’s clearly a special experience for students to meet the laureates of the Right Livelihood Awards, all of whom are outstanding and fascinating individuals, and to be inspired by their ideas to build a better society.”