Scott’s Teach First Experience with Sustainability and Educational Engagement

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“Hi, my name is Scott and I’ve just finished a summer project for the Sustainability and Educational Engagement teams at the University of Leeds. (I’ve also never done a blog post before, so this could be “interesting”!) I was – until 3 weeks ago – a full-time teacher, and I was asked to look at the provision of University resources aimed at schoolchildren with the aim being to have students engage more with sustainability and improve sustainability literacy. I was keen to help improve outreach at Leeds, and to get to do so with sustainability being at the forefront (a topic that I’m very passionate about) seemed too perfect an opportunity to not apply for.

I spent my first couple of days really trying to nail down what it was that people expected of me, meeting with seemingly half the university staff on campus, and gathering data to use at a later date! It was agreed that I’d design “two or three” lessons for teachers to download, or to be delivered by University staff in workshops, as well as looking at where Educational Engagement and Sustainability overlapped, suggesting how best to market the new resources, and writing a report that brought all of that together. In just three weeks! I hope that the 29(!) lessons I’ve created, with associated resources (including a board game), will be enjoyed by students across the UK and beyond and help to spread the word of what sustainability is and how it’s interwoven into society.

My time here has been brief but very enjoyable. The team here were all very welcoming (and 25p coffee helped!) and were very happy to chat about the project (and other things), and now I’ve reached the end, I’m sad that I won’t get to engage with people who clearly have a love for the vision of Sustainability, and won’t get to learn about how sustainability isn’t just about the colour green, saving the trees, or the birds and the bees!

To conclude, I’d like to thank Louise and Claire for the opportunity, Josh and Amanda for always being friendly faces, Mike for showing me the work on biodiversity on campus, Kelly for sorting it all out and telling me about her work on food on campus, Dom and Eric for trialling lessons and giving me feedback, Pre and John for discussing outreach, Jenny and Steven for telling me about their work with transport, James for telling me about water conservation, Tilly for educating me about Snapchat(!), and Gina for telling me about the work already done aimed at disadvantaged students (who are close to my heart).

Enjoy what’s left of summer!”

Goodbye from me

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Can’t believe my placement year has come to an end! It’s definitely been a really exciting and great year.

During my second year at university I had my heart set on finding an internship to develop skills which would make me more employable after I graduate. I would definitely recommend doing an internship to anyone who is thinking of doing one. I had a list of things I wanted to get out of a placement year before I even secured a position: I wanted it to be really useful, something that was worth taking a year out of university for and something that would not only prepare me for the ‘real world’ but also help me make a positive contribution to society (working on a strategic theme called ‘Being a Positive Partner in Society’ was my cue to apply).

I also wanted to gain transferable skills that would not only help me with my future career but also help me with my studies. I can happily say that working in the Sustainability Service ticked all the boxes and I got everything out of my placement I wanted to.

As an international student I was amazed by how much the University is doing to promote sustainability and embed it across the whole University.

It’s an amazing team to work with who made me feel welcome from day one. It’s really inspiring to work with people who are this good at and enthusiastic about what they do. If my next workplace will be just half as good as this one, I’ll be happy.

There have been so many highlights of this year it’s hard to pick one but just to mention a few: all the engagement activities we did with IntoUniversity students were great, from fixing bikes with them to talking about the University’s social impact and beyond. Going along to SkyRide and making smoothies with a pedal-powered bike was also great fun, it was great to see so many people on their bikes all across the city.

Another highlight was attending Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s 70th Birthday Celebration with Sir David Attenborough, it was the most inspiring talk I have ever been to. Sir David Attenborough has always been one of my biggest inspirations – his work has been inspiring generations for decades and will continue to do so for a long time, but sitting only a few metres away from him was truly incredible. You can watch a recording of the event via this link.

It was really interesting to update the ‘Living in Leeds’ Guide and consult with various key stakeholders, including community groups, the Police, Leeds City Council, and students. The guide is here to help students settle in to the community and live more sustainably and I’m really looking forward to seeing people reading it around campus!

I’m also looking forward to the University achieving its set goals in terms of sustainability and continue to contribute to it as a student. I think it’s really important to stress that every little contribution helps to achieve the overall goal – to create a more sustainable university.

I’ll really miss working with the team but it’s time to move on now. I would like to thank everyone I worked with and made my year so great.

Good luck to the team and to the new interns – I’m sure you will have a blast working here!

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Eric’s Work Experience

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Jambo everyone!!*

I’m Eric and I am currently doing my A-levels at Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College as an international student from Tanzania. During my summer holiday I was so lucky to be offered two weeks of work experience at the University of Leeds. I’ve been working with the Sustainability Team along with the Sport & Physical Activity Team for the short period of time however, it felt like I’ve been working with them for more than two weeks. Mainly because they are all really good people and supported me throughout my entire time here.

During my work experience I did a lot of things and also I met a lot of people working on different fields. I had a chance to attend so many meetings to have a feel of how people interact with each other. Through this I’ve been able to gain a lot of things from them.

I’ll start by highlighting the things I was able to do during my time here. On the first day, I attended a meeting with the Sustainability Team – they all explained what they do in terms of their roles. The meeting was mainly about what they were planning to do for the University in a sustainable way. There are so many activities going on. Check out their website to see how the Sustainability Team are working to ensure sustainability is an integral part of University of Leeds operations.

During my work experience, there was a day which I spent on the Bike Hub at the University of Leeds. I was taught how to fix brakes and also how to replace punctured tyres. Did you know that if you are a member of staff or a student at the University of Leeds you can easily hire bikes? See the Bike Hub website to see how.

On the next day I had the opportunity to go to a meeting at the Weetwood Sports Park. We visited the site where a new cycle track and pavilion is being built to provide state of the art cycle facilities which will be used by both elite athletes, such as the Brownlee brothers, students and the public – see this link for more information. The track is expected to open in January 2017.  Great news for cycle enthusiasts and triathlon lovers!

I also had the chance to spend some time with the Sports and Physical Activity Department – I learnt all about the management and operations of the department – I had amazing exposure to how The Edge Sports Centre is run and functions, and all the services they provide, from elite sports coaching to children’s swimming lessons, physiotherapy to swimming pool water treatment – it’s a complicated business! The facilities at the University of Leeds are world class – you should go and check them out yourself!

All in all, I would like to thank everyone across the Sports and Physical Activity department from the top to bottom. They have all been so generous and kind to me throughout my two weeks here.

Overall this experience has helped me a lot, from boosting my confidence to improving my communication skills. I will definitely miss each and every one of you who have supported me and I wish everyone all the best.

Sincere thanks to all members of staff who I had the chance to work with throughout my time here but especially the Head of Sustainability, Dr Louise Ellis and Stewart Ross, the Director of Commercial and Support Services who made this happen.

*Ps: Jambo is greetings in Swahili language.

Dominic’s Summer Internship Experience

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Hello! I’m Dominic, I’ve just returned from year abroad in Rotterdam and I am about to start my fourth and final year of my Politics degree at the University of Leeds. This summer I’m working as an intern at the Sustainability Service . My job is to focus on student sustainability literacy and what that basically means is finding out what students know about sustainability, what our behaviour is like and what we tend to think about sustainability too.

I’ve been researching all the different ways that universities and other organisations try to find out what people know about sustainability. This information is really important to the Sustainability Service and the University in order to plan what action it’s going to take in order to empower students to make a difference in creating a sustainable world.

I am putting together an online sustainability assessments for students that are going to also provide students with practical, relevant information on how to live sustainably. We are currently looking at, in the future, integrating a short quiz into the registration process for students which would be one of the best sources of student sustainability literacy in the world and really help the university make significant strides towards its sustainability goals. In addition I hope to put together a longer survey which students can choose to take part in which will provide a more in-depth look at student sustainability literacy. In order to prepare these I have recently run a focus group of students who have stayed in Leeds over the summer and I got great feedback from them on how to further engage students in sustainability which should prove really useful in the future.

I’m now about half way through my internship and so far this summer I have been really welcomed in by the whole Sustainability Service team. I hadn’t previously been heavily involved in sustainability efforts either in my studies or private life. I tried to use less of what I could and recycle when I could but didn’t feel like I was really involved in sustainability much. However, in just this past month I have learned so much about all the amazing projects going on at university, volunteer organisations and beyond. There is so much to get involved with and I am fully converted from someone who knew sustainability was important but, to be honest, didn’t really do much. Now to someone who is really excited about all the amazing work which is being done and we as students can get involved with right now, it’s all on the Sustainability Service website!