Wissenschaftlerin besucht Seminarkurs

Dr. Jule Kunkel visited the E.I.Dr. Jule Kunkel visited the E.I.

Guest speaker Dr Jule Kunkel visited the Seminarkurs “Transforming our World”

Dr Jule Kunkel from the Institute for Sports Science at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology visited the SDG Seminar Course twice, on 28 September and 5 October, to discuss with us health and diet aspects related to the Sustainable Development Goals.

The first session focused mainly on the importance of health for human well-being. We jointly debated what health means and how to think more holistically about the concept of health. As a relevant illustration for our personal lives as students, Dr Kunkel mentioned how bad continuous and uninterrupted sitting is the human body and mind. As a practical measure, she suggested the introduction of sitting breaks in class. The students were open-minded about this idea and considered it worth a try. Dr Kunkel also discussed how the physical environment shapes our decision making about movement, transportation, and diet. She illustrated this with the influence that street networks have on whether people use cars or go on foot in urban environments.

The second session was dedicated to the topic of diet. We started by discussing our own dietary choices and patterns and our general relationship with food. Dr Kunkel explained recent research results about the role of the human microbiome in shaping nutritional choices. This role was not understood for a long time, also because much of it takes place without our conscious decision-making. We then discussed the role of diet in disease prevention, which is often neglected in health care. A concrete suggestion was to follow the concept of the “Daily Dozen”, which is a list of cereals, fruit, and vegetables that should be included in one´s diet every day. Towards the end of Dr Kunkel´s visit, we discussed the sustainability dimensions of our dietary choices. We learned how our diet causes greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and soil erosion.

There was something for everybody in these two sessions: Those interested in sustainability issues now understand better how health promotes human well-being and how diet promotes health. Those interested in more practical issues learned how to make better choices in their lives.   

Written by Ingrid Goeschl