Black Dot Is Creating a Community of ’Doers’
Karin Bylund, 24, heads the Black Dot student association in Gothenburg. The association creates opportunities for students to come up with real solutions for sustainable development through value-creating processes and is one of 21 member organisations in SDSN Youth in Northern Europe, which works towards the global goals for sustainable development with a focus on young adults.
Karin has long worked actively to create non-competitive environments where young people can meet and grow together. Right now, she is heavily involved in Black Dot, which has created a model for matching students from various disciplines with businesses and organisations with a concrete sustainability challenge. Together with the University of Gothenburg, Region Västra Götaland, University West and the EU, Black Dot is part of a regional project that so far has engaged 300 students and 50 organisations in so-called Innovation Weekends. They want to create a community and a culture of doers. They fill a gap in the traditional academic model, where students get to use their knowledge and skills to create concrete benefits to society in a safe environment.
‘Students are an important key to sustainable development. They have a great capacity and a strong drive, they are well educated and they have a good understanding of complex global challenges, such as climate change. The expected consequences of an unsustainable world are encouraging young people to get to work and make a difference, and we give them tools to do it,’ says Karin.
Learning to collaborate across boundaries is a prerequisite for sustainable development, according to Karin. Black Dot gives students opportunities to learn from each other and work together across disciplinary and cultural borders. Complex solutions call for complex teams, something that has provided added value both internally, externally and at a personal level. Karin says that the wide diversity in nationalities, backgrounds and areas of expertise among the participating students and the members of the Black Dot team has helped increase the quality dramatically. Both students and organisations are very pleased with the outcome generated by a diverse team, and the students enjoy doing some hands-on work in addition to the analysing and theorising in the classroom.
‘In order to learn about sustainable development, we need to understand that there are several different perspectives and learn how we can make a tangible difference. That’s precisely the void we are trying to fill, and we hope that the model will spread to other cities and countries as well. We need to stop competing and instead support each other since at the end of the day, we’re all trying to achieve the same goal. And a little less conversation and a little more action would also help,’ says Karin.
Each month, #månadensvärldsförbättrare brings attention to young individuals who are working hard to change society in a sustainable direction from a learning-for-sustainable-development perspective. The initiative is backed by a number of organisations involved in the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Sweden.
Text: Linnéa Lundmark