Conscious Student Associations in Sweden

Presentation written by:

Frida Andersson,

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU,



Table of contents

Background 2

1. Green student associations project at LIU 3

2. Engineers without borders 4

3. Genius 6

Conclusion 6

Bibliography 6


In Sweden are there 16 universities and 31 collages. These are spread out around the different cities within the country and the biggest universities are Uppsala university, Lund university, Göteborg university, Stockholm university, Umeå university and Linköping university. In total, there was approximately 400 000 people studying in Sweden during 2017 at a university or a college. This leads to a need of a social responsibility within the universities and colleges.

The university that in the top of the ranking of environmental questions in Sweden is Göteborg university, according to the Environmental Protection Agency in Sweden. This ranking is made up by several criteria’s such as activities and goals for the impact on the environment, measurability of the goals, actions in order to reach the goals and how well the goals are reached etc. But there are also other variables connected to the environment that is not included in this ranking. The variables are many but to give some example of what one could do as a student at the university one could be involved with different associations or projects.

There are many different projects at the different universities around Sweden which works to increase the consciousness for the environment, making it better and also to actively decrease the pollution in the world. Some of these projects takes place at Linköping University. Here there are researchers and organizations that works towards improving the environment and taking the social responsibility.

Linköping University (LiU) is one of Sweden’s biggest university with over 27.000 students and 4 000 workers. The university has four different campus. Two of the campus are placed in Linköping, one in Norrköping and the last one at Lidingö in Stockholm. The university provides educations in many areas such as medicine, teaching, economy, accounting, politics, engineering etc. The LiU become a university year 1975 and has since then grown and are today an innovating university which seeks to improve.

At LiU the student life is a central part of the time at the university. The student life includes events such as dinners, case groups and competitions, parties, trips, concerts, company events etc. In order to have a good student life one need to have people who organize these things. These people are the student belonging to the many different associations that’s made for students.

In this report we will have a look at three different examples of projects made by the student associations that has a primary goal to take a social responsibility in three different ways at LiU.

Green student associations project at LIU

When the student associations are hosting all the different events, there’s a lot of trashes and other aspects that have an impact on the environment. Therefore “Green student associations project” was founded. It is an agreement for student association to sign in consideration of taking a responsibility to protect the environment.

The purpose of the agreement is to make it easier for student associations to environmentally adapt their organisation through systemizing the work with environmental questions and social responsibilities. The “Green student associations project” founded 2007 by the unions and the environmental strategist at Linköping University but coordinates today by the university’s own organisation for environment and security unit.

The agreement has criteria that the student associations has to follow and to fulfil in beneficial to call them self a “Green student association”. These criteria include “ground criteria” that the agreement provide but it also including that the associations make some rules themselves and continuously update them in order to improve and protect the environment even more. Every year the associations have to come up with at least one new goal to improve the environment, this to be able to keep the diploma of being a “Green student association”. The student association also have to check other associations goals and give comments on them so that they all can help each other to improve.

The criteria that the association have to live up to are organisational and operational criteria. The organisational exists to makes sure that the associations have one or more persons responsible for the agreement and that the person(s) are involved with the environmental goals and the administration around it. The administrative part is for example, email and informing the unions and the students about the active work that is made with the “green student association project”. This is made to spread the importance of taking a responsibility even on the university and within the student associations different events.

The operational criteria are the actual tasks that the associations have to do. These are for example that they have to make events such as a “Green event” for the students, which have a main focus on the environment and information about the social responsibility. Other examples are that the associations have to provide a vegetarian or biological meal during their events and it is even better if it is Fair Trade too. Not utilize single-use tableware while having smaller events and if needed, the single-use tableware has to be made by renewable raw materials. The associations also have to sort plastic, metal, paper, electronics, hard paper with more and make sure that they clean up well after their events so that no trash are left in the nature nor in the locales. The last operational criteria are the one that refers to the associations own criteria/rules that they have to continuously update and expand every year as was spoken about before.

Year 2016 a meeting was held to develop the agreement and to rewrite some of the criteria since the society changes. The new environmental arrangements include “increase knowledge of sustainable development”, “restrict climate impact”,” effective use of natural resources” and “minimize spreads of harmful and contagious substances from the activities” according to the LiU environmental goals 2016-2018. This meeting made the agreement better for all parts and developed the “Green student association project” for the better.

Engineers without borders

Part from the “green student association project” there is other environmental and social actions at LiU as said earlier. One other organization run by students are the “Engineers without borders” which is an organization that “works to address challenges linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, both in Sweden and around the globe. Through improvements in education, equality, energy poverty and access to water and sanitation we strive to make a sustainable and long-term impact with our work, for local communities and the Earth as a whole.”- (2018-02-25).

This organization started in 2007 at the technical university in Gothenburg named Chalmers by a handful of student and a retired engineer. They wanted to create an organization which could help others within their own expertise, an organization that could be compared to “Doctors without borders”. This they also manages to do and during the last 10 years the interest for the organization has grown and today they are located at 10 different places in Sweden and have over 1000 members. One of the location that has one of the strongest fortress are placed at Linköping University. Here the students who study engineering programs, but also other programs have the possibility to be a member of the organization and to make a difference. In order to gather money for the different project held by the organization they make several events and commercial at the university. Every year they arrange a running race, where the starting cost goes to the benefit of the different project made by the organization. People are also able to donate money if they want to. Another example of an event held by the organization is pubs and lunches at school which they organize in cooperation with the student organizations at LiU.

Engineers without boarders have also got companies that sponsor the different events and the project made by the organization. The companies can choose to support the organization, either as a contributor or as a partner.

Every year some of the engineering students involved with the organization travel to the countries where they have project and work entirely ideally during the summer, while one does not have school. This makes the costs for the trips and the project very small and also because they are sponsored by different companies the cost for the project are even less.

Last year they had two projects held by the students at LiU, one in Ghana and one in Tanzania. The one in Ghana had the goal to create a sustainable toilette for a school in order to make the life for the students in Wulugu easier and to miner the technological gap on the countryside. The one in Tanzania created sun panels for eight classrooms so that they are able to have electricity and lights in the classrooms. During the stay in Tanzania the team also searched around the village to get a view over how big the demand for electricity was.

This year’s project are also places in Ghana and Tanzania, but the tasks has slightly changed. In Ghana one will try to give the people clean water to drink to all the students at a school in northern Ghana. They will try to install a biological filter to an already exciting water tank in order to give the possibility for 1700 student to have their daily requirement of water each day. The new project in Tanzania will also aim to clean water to a school but also to give teachers and students education at the school. This to give them a knowledge of water and the importance of drinking clean water.

Engineers without borders does also have other focuses such as climate and sustainability. For example, they arranged a lecture together with a company called Panta mera and the faculty LinTek at LiU. This to give the students at LiU a lecture in the importance of recycling and how the system works when you recycle for example a bottle.


To make sure that equality exists at the university, there is an organization called Genius which work to make the university an equal place between people. The organization started in 2015 by a couple of students. Genius is a non-profit organization that works for everybody’s right to be who they are despite ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

The main goal of Genius is to make everybody at LiU to feel welcome to study. In order to reach this goal, the organization examine the associations at LiU, the events and the educations They want to make sure that everyone takes the responsibility when it comes to equality. The Genius also have different events such as discussions, meetings, workshop and lectures to highlight the importance of equality and that one should not discriminate one and others or exclude. One of the values that Genius stands for is the feminism.


To summarize these three different examples of organization/project at LiU one could say that they exists in beneficial of making the university and the world a better place, both when it comes to the environmental questions, the sustainability and the equality. One could also say that they all aim to engage students toward getting a wider knowledge for the environment.


Statistics over Swedish universities and colleges

Statistiska Centralbyrån, (2018-02-12), Sweden: (2018-02-12), Sweden:

Environmental Protection Agency in Sweden (Ranking)

Naturvå (2018-03-03): (2018-03-03):

Information about LiU (2018-03-01):

Agreement for the” Green student associations” (2018-02-25):

Engineers without boarders (2018-02-25): (2018-02-25):

Genius (2018-03-01): (2018-03-01):