SustainabilitySustainability Think Tank

The Sustainability Think Tank (STT) was launched in November 2023 in order to develop a comprehensive sustainability strategy for Heidelberg University. Based at the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE), the STT aims, in a participatory process, to devise hands-on interventions to promote sustainability, as well as to combine, expand and highlight existing initiatives. At a kick-off meeting, five working groups were formed to deal with sustainability in the fields of research, teaching, communication and transfer, operations and research operations. They have the job of drawing up practical measures for sustainable development. The results will be presented twice a semester and discussed in plenary. The STT initiative was developed in the university’s Commission for Research and Strategy and is in close consultation with the Rectorate. All members of the university are warmly invited to take an active part in the working groups. 


Irina Merz coordinates the Sustainability Think Tank and is the contact person for the different working groups and interested members of Ruperto Carola who would like to take part in developing the sustainability strategy. She took up her position as sustainability manager at Heidelberg University at the start of the winter semester. After earning a bachelor’s degree in European Studies in Passau Irina Merz studied international relations at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU), where she obtained her master’s in 2023. In addition, she completed a further course in the field of sustainable development. Study abroad led her to Universidad Católica de Córdoba (Argentina) and Sciences Po Strasbourg (France). During her time at university Irina Merz was already working in the Green Office, the KU’s sustainability unit. During internships she gained experience at the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Berlin, the permanent representation of the Federal Republic of Germany at the United Nations Office in Geneva (Switzerland) and the representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union in Brussels (Belgium).

Porträt: Irina Merz

It is important to involve as many perspectives as possible. So we are delighted that students, too, are contributing to the process and would like to encourage them in this. That is why the Ecology and Sustainability Office of the Constituted Student Body is tied into the ongoing developments.

Irina Merz, Sustainability Manager at Heidelberg University

Porträt Thomas Rausch

The Commission for Research and Strategy has long had a wide-ranging understanding that the concept of sustainability does not just relate to certain issues − instead, it must be strategically rooted in an overall strategy. However, the window of opportunity lies not only in developing strategic ideas and writing them down but also in plucking “low-hanging fruits” that can easily be put into practice during the strategy development process.

Prof. Dr Thomas Rausch, Managing Director of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment

Dr. Maximilian Jungman

Sustainability is not a project that can be completed – the point is to keep on developing. That’s why we want to empower people to develop an appropriate mindset and offer support in carrying out practical steps. It is about establishing this way of thinking throughout the whole university.

Dr Max Jungmann, Executive Manager of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment