UMN Morris Students Travel to Germany to Grow Partnership with Sister-City

Lily Sugimura ’22

Before the pandemic struck, several UMN Morris students traveled to Germany as part of the Germany: Leading the Renewables Revolution course coordinated by the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment Climate Smart Municipalities program. During the 10-day program in Germany, students visited several cities in North Rhine-Westphalia, including the city of Münster and the sister-city of Morris, the city of Saerbeck.

The trip provided students an opportunity to explore environmental problems and solutions in a town dedicated to sustainability. “A big highlight for this trip is visiting our sister-city of Saerbeck and seeing the Bioenergy Park. Saerbeck is great because in addition to all of the clean energy equipment, the city’s schools are heavily involved in sustainability. The high school has a composting program, and there are educational programs taught by professionals and college students. Environmental mindfulness is evident in Saerbeck,” shares student delegate Lily Sugimura ’22.

Jules Burke ’22 describes another favorite memory of the experience abroad, “I love biking around Morris and Minneapolis, but Münster was a distinct experience. Being able to access the city with greater ease than a car was delightful. I truly wish American cities were less car-centric, and my time in Münster showed me some viable solutions to that issue. There is a bike highway system that helps numerous people travel through the city. Cycling is a popular way to get around in Münster, and it has the most bikes of any city in Europe, and lots of electric bikes too.”

Another notable aspect of the Germany program is the cultural and knowledge exchange. UMN Morris Sustainability Director Troy Goodnough, a co-instructor of the course, describes, “During the visits to Germany, the Morris delegation has an opportunity to visit with students at the Münster University of Applied Sciences. Over the past several years, university students from Münster have later traveled to Minnesota to participate in nearly year-long internships in the community, including at the University of Minnesota Morris, University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center, and at the city of Morris.”

A significant focus of the course is being part of an international delegation that helps to share stories of sustainability progress in Minnesota and to take information learned in Germany back to their home communities. “Being a part of the Minnesota delegation was delightful. Faculty and students brought diverse experiences to the table. The exchange with North Rhine-Westphalian officials and the knowledge they shared was quite an experience. Germany’s work to implement climate change adaptations gave us so much to bring home,” reflects Hannah Sajulga ’21.