Minister for the Environment Jacqueline Cramer is touring Dutch universities with a glitzy show in which students are invited to shape 'the green future'. It was Cramer herself who was called upon to act in Wageningen: student Christopher Baan put her on the spot with a statement of intent for sustainable education.
Rallying cries like 'we need to work on technologies and on goals to inspire people' and 'towards a zero-fossil society' filled the room. There was no time for debate or critical reflection; a comment from the audience about the lack of organic products in Forum was not picked up.
The evening's message was about inspiration, positive attitudes and critical success factors. Christopher Baan, a fourth-year International Development Studies student, made good use of the 'yes we can' atmosphere. He put Cramer and Dr Martin Scholten of Wageningen UR on the spot by handing them a statement of intent to sign, aiming to mobilise them for the cause of sustainability in higher education. Cramer read the statement and tried to pass it off as a 'good idea'. But after jeering from the audience she remarked drily: 'I don't really have a choice, do I?'
Specifically, Cramer promised to consult with other parties on how to make higher education more sustainable. Christopher Baan is going all out to make sure the first real meeting takes place. After that he will hand things over to the national student network Morgen ('Tomorrow' in Dutch).