Public discourse

Goal by 2023

BFH is an active player in the transformation process towards a sustainable society and ensures the transfer of knowledge to the political and economic spheres and their decision-makers and to the general public through continuous dialogue.

Why this topic is relevant for BFH

BFH acts as a centre of excellence in accordance with the Regierungsrichtlinien des Kantons Bern in order to create good framework conditions for future technologies as well as sustainable development. In its vision of sustainable development, BFH has defined three priority topics: "Sustainable and resilient food systems", "Sustainable development of settlement areas” and "Circular economy and decarbonisation". As a comprehensive university, it wants to contribute actively to the social dialogue with these topics. The departments, however, also deal with their own priority topics of sustainable development, which are to enter into the public discourse.

In the form of scientific findings, ideas, innovations and solutions, BFH contributes to the public discourse and anchors its topics in society. In this way, not only can the social discussion on relevant topics be launched and accompanied by expertise, but a valuable transfer of knowledge and technology also takes place.

BFH Day with the motto Circular Economy

BFH regularly organises events to promote the sustainability discourse and is actively involved in various networks, committees and forums. One of the highlights in 2021 was the BFH Day under the motto ‘Circular Economy - Thinking and Acting Sustainably’. Around 150 decision-makers and personalities from business, politics, administration, civil society and science took part in this event. The event highlighted BFH's contribution to a more circular economy and society in the three areas of, research, teaching and social participation.


Sustainability Day of Bern’s three universities

The Sustainability Day of Bern’s universities is held every two years together with the University of Bern and the Bern University of Teacher Education. On 5 November 2021, the universities showed an impressive range of concrete contributions to the SDGs and where further action is needed. Students and researchers from the three universities demonstrated to over 350 visitors at project stands and in numerous workshops that there is no lack of innovative spirit for sustainable development.

‘Emma auf Hoftour’

BFH-HAFL’s annual public event, Emma auf Hoftour, organised by students of the Agronomy division, gives children and families an insight into Swiss food production. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, participants in 2021 were able to connect directly to the cow barn, sheep pen or goat shed via livestream and learn a lot of interesting facts about farm animals. The spectrum of topics ranged from the husbandry system for cows to milk production and the fattening farm to a cow pat bingo as the conclusion of the three-day series of events.

How BFH addresses this topic

BFH is represented internally and externally by the President. In the public discourse, the communication department of the President’s Office and the departments support the President in tasks such as media relations.

The Cantonal Government's performance mandate to BFH for the years 2021– 2024 sets out concrete goals for public discourse. The development focus is that BFH should "assume its responsibility as a player in the social transformation process with an increased focus on sustainability and digitalisation". Furthermore, BFH should "cultivate close cooperation with private-sector companies, public-sector institutions and other education providers".

In addition to the events mentioned above, BFH has also taken various measures to involve itself more specifically in the public discourse. For example, the current BFH strategy was supplemented in the year under review to include the above-mentioned goal. In addition, the Code of Conduct currently under development, which will come into force on 1.1.2023, will contain statements on external communication.

In autumn 2022, a series of public events is to be launched on the three key topics of "Sustainable and resilient food systems", "Development of settlements and habitats" and "Circular economy and decarbonisation". It is intended to strengthen the dialogue with civil society, politics and the economy additionally. Also, in June 2022, BFH, together with the Swiss Academies of Sciences (SCNAT) and the Wyss Academy for Nature, held the Sustainable Science Dialogue on the sustainable development of natural and settlement spaces in the Canton of Bern.

Awareness of sustainable development among the general public and politicians is to be raised in a targeted manner through political contacts and public appearances by BFH managers (especially the President) and BFH experts. There is also active media work on the strategic topic of sustainable development. In addition, the Focus BFH newsletter is regularly sent to contacts of the rector in politics, administration and business. The visibility of activities and events in the field of sustainable development is also continuously increased on the web portal.

The measures are evaluated by means of the strategy report on the objectives from the area of sustainable development and the performance report on the objectives in accordance with the cantonal performance mandate.

A working group consisting of the quality officers of the departments and members of the President’s Office is also currently developing a concept for measuring the social impact of BFH using suitable impact indicators. The concept takes into account the cantonal goals and should be completed by 2023.

The response in the media is measured by the ARGUS media analysis and communicated internally in regular media reviews. In the year under review, BFH succeeded in generating positive resonance with various messages on the topic of sustainability, including the projects and activities E-LKW, Der Holzbautag Biel wird klimagerecht, Sonderbriefmarke Nachhaltigkeit.