Published on 10.02.2022

The University of Freiburg is to become a hub for environmental ethics issues

Fairer, ethically correct solutions to environmental problems - that is the goal of the young UniFR_ESH Institute at the University of Fribourg. Director Ivo Wallimann-Helmer is convinced that the mix of natural sciences and humanities will turn his students into competent and sought-after generalists. He has ambitious goals for the future of the institute.

In which places are landfills justifiable? How do we deal with the real and imagined risks of nuclear waste? And how do we deal with alien species in biodiversity protection? Is an individual morally overburdened if he is succinctly asked to reduce his CO2 emissions by "as much as possible"? Are they possibly even unfairly disadvantaged compared to those who do not care about their emissions?

Environmental problems and their solutions almost always raise ethical questions. And these are often not easy to answer. For example, who is responsible for taking adaptation measures in Nepal? The industrialised countries, which after all are mainly responsible for climate change? Or the Nepalese themselves, since it is known that measures are more effective when they are supported by the local population? And if so, who has to provide resources and know-how?

Environmental problems need to be addressed, at least the scientific community agrees on that. "But it is also important that this is done in a fair, ethical way," says Ivo Wallimann-Helmer. He is Professor of Environmental Humanities at the Department of Earth Sciences and Director of the University of Fribourg Environmental Sciences and Humanities Institute (UniFR_ESH Institute), the institute that was founded two and a half years ago and in its research strives to find answers to questions like those formulated at the beginning.

Read the whole article by Matthias Fasel for Alma & Georges at (in German).