During my time as a student architect, I have been working on trying to increase the recycling rate at University ran student halls of residence. Currently, the recycling rate at some student halls is only 20%, which falls well below the UK average household recycling rate of 45%. Initially, I hoped to achieve an increase in participation of recycling through making the Sustainability Service’s A-Z Recycling Guide available on the University of Leeds App, and through introducing food waste bins. The concept of incorporating the recycling guide into the app has now developed to the stage where the Service is drafting up a separate app specifically to do with Sustainability at Leeds, which will lead to a wider outreach of sustainability related issues. However, the idea to introduce food waste bins across all residencies has been tabled for the time being due to resource constraints. On the other hand, some of the green reps have taken it upon themselves to trial the use of food waste bins in their halls of residence in a couple of flats. In the coming weeks I will be getting involved in the ‘Leave Leeds Tidy’ campaign, acting as a student representative for the Sustainability Service. This initiative does fantastic work in finding a use for many of the items that get left behind at the end of the year.
My name is Ileyas and I am one of the four Sustainability Architects this year. I am a second year Politics student, so naturally my interest is in democracy and other political concepts. As a result, my aim at the beginning of the role was to explore ways in which I can fuse my area of interest with the need to embed sustainability in the University’s student population. After liaising with Claire, the sustainability manager, we agreed that my key objective would be to embed sustainability through encouraging higher student participation in democratic initiatives, such as voting in local elections and campus-wide elections.
In my action plan, my main aim is to create an event for like-minded individuals who have an interest in a variety of issues, be it democracy, sustainability or just people who want to have a positive influence on our community. This forum would not only be for students at the University of Leeds, but also encompass the community in which our University is apart of. Other angles from which I hope to achieve my objective, involves working in collaboration with LUU on their variety of events focusing on the upcoming EU referendum, and using that opportunity to steer students towards sustainability and the ways in which politics and sustainability are interlinked.
If you haven’t registered to vote for the EU referendum yet, follow this link!
I have spent the last six months as a Green Impact Assistant for the Sustainability team at the University. Green Impact is an environmental awards programme run in association with NUS. The scheme provides a framework to improve sustainability at the university through an online workbook with criteria to help departments create a more sustainable workplace, and celebrates achievements made over the year, such as reducing paper usage or promoting more sustainable transport within their office.
The role has involved monthly meetings with the team to complete different aspects of the workbook for their Green Impact team. Over this period, I have helped the team conduct an energy audit of their office, identifying actions to improve its efficiency, as well as offering ideas, and helping promote their creative challenge; which this year was a vegetarian week amongst the team! I was able to contribute individually and as a team, working with Helene, another Green Impact Assistant, developing my communication and project management skills. As a Masters student studying Sustainability and Business, this experience has given me an insight into how material presented in lectures translates in a practical situation. It has also helped me improve my ability to write for a non-academic audience and my ability to work as part of a diverse, professional team.
As part of the scheme, I was also aware of, and in contact with, other Green Impact Assistants working in different departments around the university. It has been really interesting to see how other departments are addressing sustainability, and the innovative initiatives they are putting in place to spread sustainability throughout the university; from building indoor gardens to Fairtrade bake sales! The experience has allowed me to see and be involved with, the university’s commitment to sustainability, and the range of activities happening across campus!
Lucy Atkinson (MSc Sustainability and Business)
I am currently doing a Masters in Sustainability (Climate Change) at the University of Leeds. It is an intensive course which cover many dimensions of sustainability. The course is delivered by members of the internationally-recognised Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) at the School of Earth and Environment.
Taking this course has definitely increased my employability as employers are increasingly seeking for graduates who have the skills that can help companies tackle the challenges of sustainability. Added to this, I was also able to earn a wide array of skills and knowledge on how to tackle global and local sustainability challenges, such as poor working conditions and climate change. As I studied this course, I also realised that sustainability happens in most aspects of the human world. It is not just about making companies “greener” and protecting the environment. It also involves notions of equity within and between generations, making sure that as many people as people can receive the benefits of our natural resources lastingly.
This course also challenged my own view on sustainability. At the start of the course, I wasn’t sure how much I could contribute to the fight against climate change challenges, thinking that the problem was too big for me to be able to make a difference. During the course, I was able to assess my role as a consumer and how much my consumption behaviours impact society and the environment. While I still believe that firms and the government should lead the way towards sustainable development, I have now recognised that my own commitment towards sustainability could have a significant impact. I realised that sustainable development was a highly complex issue that can only be achieved if all stakeholders are committed to change
I believe that this course was a truly valuable experience. It provided me with countless opportunities for personal development and allowed me to become more aware of global issues.
Helene Tran (MSc Sustainability; Climate Change)
“My current project with the Sustainability Service is looking at the way we can integrate sustainability into student dissertation topics; particularly those outside of traditional schools like Earth and Environment. By doing this we hope to catch a range of students from different disciplines thus increasing engagement across the university.
The project is trying to capture students who are currently preparing for to undertake their dissertation in either their final year of studies or at a postgraduate level.
In order to achieve this, I have contacted several schools across the university and have set up a workshop to facilitate this discussion. The workshop will be an interactive forum that allows students to share ideas and look at the ways that sustainability can be related to degree and topic choices. The session aims to help build and develop ideas for students. This can either be for students with a clear idea of their topic or indeed those who are still in the early planning stages. This session will demonstrate the flexibility of sustainability and how it is not designated to a particular subject area; it crosses disciplines and is relevant in a range of contexts.
It is hoped that we will see a range of students from different subjects decide to undertake a sustainability related dissertation in the near future!”
The first workshop is on 28th April 2016, for more information and to register your attendance please follow this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sustainability-service-dissertation-workshop-tickets-23117119928?aff=eac2