Asmik Kostandyan has been working at the Alumni Association since the beginning of this year. She coordinates the numerous alumni networks and the initiative of association’s future development. This new concept includes a business plan as well as a communications campaign based on the UN goals for sustainable development (SDG's). The SDG's provide a more modern interpretation to the University’s motto, “for the good of all” as a basis for future activities. In the following interview, Asmik Kostandyan explains how the idea came about and what exactly is involved in this future initiative.

Since January, you have been the first employee of the Alumni Association. What do you do there?
I coordinate the University’s alumni networks and ensure that the alumni can get connected to their University and to each other in a quick and easy manner, whether it is via a faculty network or a subject-related network. Moreover, I share responsibility for the strategic development of the association.

What is the future initiative all about?
So far, the Alumni Association has done extremely inspiring work, which has made Göttingen a pioneer in this area among public universities in Germany. We would like to strengthen this pioneering position and tap the great potential of the alumni. Therefore, we are working on a vision for the future development of the association. This includes the development of a comprehensive business plan, a communications and membership campaign as well as an engagement portfolio.

The communication campaign is to connect the University’s founding motto with the sustainability goals of the United Nations. The vision is to establish a community in which the culture of civil activism and volunteering plays a central role: involvement in one’s own university, but also with each other.

A campaign on the UN goals for sustainable development in connection with the University’s founding motto, “For the good of all”. How did that idea come about?
It had been clear to us for some time that in the future, we would need a new framework for the structural and content-related development of the association. At the beginning of this year, we visited alumnus Arved Lüth at his Frankfurt office. Mr. Lüth and his management consultancy specialise in corporate social responsibility and sustainable management. During this conversation, the idea was born that the sustainability goals of the United Nations could be a modern interpretation of the University’s mission statement. After much consideration and internal as well as external discussion, we decided to define the goals of the UN as a framework for the future concept of the association.

Is it possible to work with the sustainability goals without seeming too “mainstream”? What is the connection with Göttingen?
Agenda 2030 offers a comprehensive framework for meaningful and lasting communication that is internationally recognised and easily understood by everyone. However, the substantive content comes from the University and from Göttingen. A great deal is being done at the University to support the implementation of the sustainability goals - whether through research projects or student initiatives. Through our project we would like to create, among other things, a communication platform that tells the world about Göttingen's contribution to Agenda 2030. But beyond that, of course, we would like to discover questions and perhaps even problems at the University in the context of the sustainability goals, which our alumni can support and get involved. The range of topics covered by the sustainability goals allows us to cover as many topics as possible at and for the University.

Alumni, students, scientists and scholars are all involved... How are the roles determined?
It was important to us to develop this project with people who benefit from the service of the Alumni Association and who are interested in our work. Alumni and students work with us as a team to shape the project conceptually. Scientists and scholars advise us on the content of individual sustainability goals.

How did you choose the alumni who work with you?
We have defined areas in which we depend on external support: corporate social responsibility, branding, fundraising, copywriting and storytelling, financial planning for non-profit organisations, etc. Then we specifically research alumni who are qualified experts in their respective fields and contact them. The feedback has been very positive: We are very happy about the many rapid commitments!

As for yourself, what brought you to Göttingen?
Almost six years ago, I moved to Göttingen for professional reasons. At that time, I could not have imagined that I would stay in Göttingen for so long. During and after my studies, I moved around a lot and travelled a lot in Germany and also internationally. At the moment, I am very happy to be here and feel very connected to the city.

What do you like about Göttingen?
Of course, the easy commutes you have here. But also, the familiar and relaxed atmosphere of Göttingen. The feeling of being at home.

And what do you like about your work?
What I like about my work is the feeling of being a part of something bigger, of being able to make a difference that can have a lasting impact on the life and future of the University and its members. It is also very exciting for me to work at the intersection of science and the society, to bring these two worlds together and to shape the communication between them. Last but not least, I would like to mention the inspiring team of the Alumni Office, with whom one learns something new every day and is able to develop further.

Do you have a message for our alumni?
Be proud of your University and your Alumni Association! Make use of the network that your University and the Alumni Association offer you after your studies! This is your campus. For your entire life.

The Alumni Göttingen e.V. thanks the AKB Foundation and GETEC Energy Holding GmbH for their financial support of the Future Initiative.

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