An Open Letter to the ETH

Patrick Chappatte

A couple of students from the ETH asked me to help them distribute an open letter to the Department of Environmental Systems Science and I feel honored to do so. The letter is available in English and German:

I mean no offense to my Alma Mater, but I am convinced that the ETH suffers from the same problem as all other universities. The classical idea of teaching assumes that professors teach, and students learn. When the students realize that their teachers do not have the answers to the most challenging problems of our time, things get complicated.

In addition, the world is now changing so fast that both academic research and conventional politics will have to step it up a notch or two to stay relevant. As I am currently working on a sustainability policy for our university (, I am well aware of these problems.

I have derived continued benefit from criticism at all periods of my life and I do not remember any time when I was ever short of it.

Winston Churchill

One thought on “An Open Letter to the ETH

  1. Dear Prof Nordborg, thank you for your insightful and timely analysis! I hope you can reach as many people as possible, especially young ones. My best wishes for the new year, Demosthenes

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