About us

The sustainability crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our times. The warming of our atmosphere and oceans, the over-exploitation of natural resources, the loss of biodiversity, and the pollution and degradation of our soils, water and air, have created a predicament that undercuts the very reproduction of the comfortable climate circumstance that allows for a peaceful cohabitation on the planet that we have known for millennia.

Pathways to Sustainability is convinced that our university has a special role to play with regards to the sustainability crisis, which is amongst the biggest challenges society faces in the 21st century. Being the home to groups of top academics in a range of fields of sustainability research, Utrecht University now wants to take a next step. We want to create the spirit that will stimulate us to collaborate across the disciplines and in collaboration with societal stakeholders on research and education to establish pathways to sustainability.

Sustainability research at Utrecht University is exceptionally strong and covers many different fields. Having the unique combination of top-notch fundamental natural science research and modelling; scholarship in innovation, transition, law, governance and sustainable finance as well as in the environmental humanities and social sciences, Utrecht University is, as a broad university, well positioned to be at the forefront of innovation in sustainability research and education.

More about the societal challenges we face and the role the Utrecht University should have in the (near) future can be read in our position paper The Way Forward. In the light of this Way Forward we defined our vision, mission and leading principles read as follows:


Joining forces within the university and with society to discover, explore and validate pathways to just and sustainable futures for all.


Propel radical innovation in our university practices by creating vibrant communities fostering new collaborations in research and education, both within the university and with societal stakeholders, to enhance our impact on the exploration and development of pathways to sustainability, guided by the principle that scientific rigor meets societal relevance.

Our leadings principles

Rigor meets relevance

At Utrecht University rigor meets relevance. It is a place of discussion and scholarship, where the enhanced understanding of human-nature relationships, in all its facets, meets the active advancement of the capacity for innovation and renewal to create a sustainable and just global society.

Vibrant and inspiring community

Utrecht University is a place of invention, inspiration and community spirit. We particularly aim to create more space for early career scholars to collaborate on new lines of research and in the development of new educational practices. Pathways to Sustainability offers a home for a meeting of the minds, both from within the university and beyond. Utrecht University is a place where radical ideas are discussed and new societal strategies are born.

Ethics of Open Science

We fully embrace the principles of Open Science focusing on creating a reciprocal relationship with societal actors and being attentive to the ways in which academics can be roped into political conflicts. We believe in continuous debate and a climate where questions can and will be raised on issues of concern.

Pathways to Sustainability is one of the four strategic themes of Utrecht University.