- By 2050, Germany wants its economy to run primarily on renewable energy, and the push is transforming its universities, as well.
- Dubbed the Energiewende (energy transformation), the movement sees 180 German universities and polytechnic colleges receiving national support for clean energy research and creating new interdisciplinary approaches, courses, degrees, and departments.
- Leuphana University professor of environmental and energy law Thomas Schomerus points out that, contrary to the U.S., Germany's politicians, academics, and public share a broad concern about climate change, a commitment to renewable energy research, and a consensus on what energy options are not the future.
Schomerus, who for two decades has also been a guest lecuturer at the University of Texas-Pan American, says that despite colleagues at that school taking steps to make their campus "green," the U.S. still largely sees sustainability as "exotic" and not a research priority.
That nations like Germany are making these forms of energy a national research priority while leaders in the U.S. debates their necessity should concern many in the American academic community — especially as those same leaders argue about ensuring that the U.S. has a viable economy for the future. Building that economy and staying competitive with the rest of the world is largely dependent on our nation's commitment to supporting that research, which largely takes place at the university level. The academic community will need to speak louder and increase its pressure on that message if it is to not only produce the research that fuels the future economy, but the graduates it will require, as well.