Sustainable university

University of Konstanz places among the top 100 universities worldwide in three sustainability categories of the 2021 THE Impact Ranking

How strongly do individual universities around the world contribute to reaching the 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations (UN)? Since 2019, Times Higher Education answers this question in THE Impact Ranking – an international ranking of the social influence of universities in the area of sustainable development. For the first time, the University of Konstanz participated in the ranking, in a total of eight categories, with very good results overall: The university placed among the top 100 worldwide for three of the UN’s sustainable development goals – no. 10: “Reduced inequalities”, no. 14: “Life below water” and no. 16 “Peace, justice and strong institutions”. The University of Konstanz’s overall ranking was in the scale between 101 and 200, of 1,115 total participating universities. The university achieved excellent results in some of the eight sustainability areas in which it competed. The detailed results are available at:

“These outstanding results in the ranking show how the university’s strong research performance and social engagement reflect sustainability issues. For example, all five of our university’s research priorities work from their own perspectives on different topics and aspects of sustainability. At the same time, the multidimensional ranking also recognizes our university’s efforts in the areas of research, teaching and university operations to promote the sustainable development of society,” says Professor Katharina Holzinger, rector of the University of Konstanz.

The social impact of universities
The first THE Impact Ranking in 2019 focused on eleven of the UN’s sustainable development goals, but it has since expanded to include all 17 of them. The ranking measures the societal impact of universities in the areas covered by the sustainable development goals. It considers research contributions as well as social engagement and the implementation of sustainable university structures: Examples include scientific policy consultation on sustainability issues, education activities open to the general public, the percentages of graduates in study programmes that are relevant for sustainability topics, the university’s guidelines to combat discrimination as well as scientific engagement in preserving ecosystems.

All universities can decide which of the 17 sustainable development goals they would like to have assessed for the ranking. The overall ranking is calculated based on the three best-ranked sustainability areas at a university in addition to sustainable development goal number 17: “Partnerships for the goals”.

“Sustainable development is one of the University of Konstanz’s important strategic topics. We define the sustainable development of our university in the areas of research and teaching, social engagement and institutional structures in line with the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals. The international ranking results based on these 17 goals are a wonderful confirmation for our work in the area of sustainability,” says Professor Christine Peter, Vice Rector for Sustainability, Information and Communication Technology at the University of Konstanz.

Three times among the world’s top 100
The University of Konstanz achieved excellent placements among the world’s top 100 for three of the UN’s sustainable development goals: It placed 36th (top 6%) for goal 16: “Peace, justice and strong institutions” and 76th (top 12%) for goal 10: “Reduced inequalities”. Both of these areas are part of the university’s research priorities “Cultural Studies” and “Social and Cognitive Sciences with a Special Focus on Inequality Research”. They especially reflect the research fields covered by the Konstanz Cluster of Excellence “The Politics of Inequality” and the university’s cultural studies research centres. The main factors for the top placement included, among other things, the university’s consultation and collaboration with the government on policy issues in addition to the university’s measures to promote students from underrepresented groups.

The third top result was place 86 (top 23%) for goal 14: “Life below water”. This area is linked to the Konstanz research priority “Collective Behaviour and Ecology”. The University of Konstanz has a distinct research profile in aquatic ecosystems, for example through its Limnological Institute, its research in the Department of Biology as well as its Cluster of Excellence “Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour” that focuses on the collective processes of animals (including those that live in water). The main factors for this strong placement involved, among other things, the university’s engagement in protecting aquatic environments, for example its work at the Limnological Institute on Lake Constance, as well as the worldwide research engagement of university members to preserve ocean ecosystems.

Key facts:

  • 2021 THE Impact Ranking on the social impact of universities in the areas covered by the United Nation’s 17 sustainable development goals
  • University of Konstanz’s overall placement among the top 200 universities, with three placements among the top 100 for sustainable development goal no. 10 (“Reduced inequalities”), no. 14 (“Life under water”) and no. 16 (“Peace, justice and strong institutions”).
  • The University of Konstanz participated in eight categories of the ranking:
    • Sustainable development goal 3: “Good health and well-being”
    • Sustainable development goal 4: “Quality education”
    • Sustainable development goal 5: “Gender equality”
    • Sustainable development goal 7: “Affordable and clean energy”
    • Sustainable development goal 10: “Reduced inequalities”
    • Sustainable development goal 14: “Life below water”
    • Sustainable development goal 16: “Peace, justice and strong institutions”
    • Sustainable development goal 17: “Partnerships for the goals”
    • The detailed results are available at: