Student Conference on Sustainable Futures 2017

On Friday 3rd February 2017, The University of Leeds hosted its first Student Conference on Sustainable Futures – Sustainable Perspectives on Future Challenges. The event highlighted the rich diversity of sustainability research and curricular projects, from students at all levels, across all disciplines.
With over 100 delegates and 40 student presenters representing every faculty, the day was filled with a medley of posters, talks and conversation workshops covering such topics as; using biomimicry to reduce the need for unsustainable textile dyes, integrating low carbon energy solutions for remote rural areas, analysing extinction rates in marine micro-organisms, and tackling social inequalities in accessing higher education.
To open the event Professor Tom Ward – Deputy Vice Chancellor for Student Education, delivered an inspiring introduction to the importance of embedding sustainability at Leeds and its place in everyone’s lives. He commented –
“This agenda will shape your future, be part of the sustainability society.”

Following a quick coffee and with twitter hashtags at the ready, attendees made their way to Parkinson Court where student’s posters, art pieces, and digital presentations were being displayed. It was amazing! Engineers were talking with artists, biologists  conversing with sociologists, business students debating with geographers. The room was echoing with collaborative discussions.
The exhibition was open all day, drawing in passer-bys with photos of Antarctic expeditions, videos of magnified crystals depicting Earth’s finite resources, and posters detailing some of the future global challenges we face.

A busy hour of oral presentations was next on the agenda, kicking off with sessions covering aspects of sustainability within Cities, Communication, Society, and Biodiversity. Ample time for questions from the audience allowed discussions to breathe and gave presenters an insight into the minds of non-specialists on their subject.

A vegetarian feast of locally sourced, low carbon grub provided by Great Food at Leeds, awaited the rumbling stomachs of the conference crowd. The delicious spread hit the spot and attracted hugely positive feedback (the brie and cranberry wontons went down a treat!)

Conversation sessions brought an interactive element to the day, with ‘Re(act) on Sustainability’ getting people out of their chairs and expressing the complexities of sustainable behaviors through performance art. Down the hallway, the ‘Community engagement within the curriculum’ workshop explored the benefits and challenges of sustainability in the community and peoples thoughts on how this can be expanded.

Afternoon oral sessions continued with familiar themes of Communication, and Society, but were also joined by Innovation and Technology, Food and Agriculture, and Governance and Policy. Such varying and fascinating presentations saw people struggling to decide which to attend! From the role of sustainable menstrual products for female empowerment, to present challenges in connecting Indian farmers, and exploring young consumers perceptions of fast fashion.

The awards ceremony, to celebrate the exemplary posters submitted to the conference, brought the day to a close. Head of Sustainability at the University of Leeds, Dr. Louise Ellis, gave a roundup of the fantastic work from the day and praised the diversity and delivery of student’s projects.

Professor Lisa Roberts – Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation lead the awards ceremony. Winners and highly recommended awards went to:

Most Original Concept
Highly Commended
Mary Loveday Edwards

‘The Use of Nostalgia at the Ideation Stage of Permaculture Design’
Winner
Clare Martynski

‘The Role of Performance and Live Art in Transforming World views’

Most Effective Visuals
Highly Commended
Katie Thomas

‘People and Nature In Harmony? Understanding a Consumer Ethical Dilemma’
Winner
Ana Perez
‘What We Know Affects What We Do – Exploring Fashion Sustainability and its Perception by Young Consumers’
Best Conference Poster
Highly Commended
Vishnu Sunil Kumar

‘To Tree or Not to Tree? Assessing Carbon Stock Distribution Along an Altitudinal Gradient in the Western Ghats’
Winner
Rizwana Alam 

‘The Governance of Urban Green Spaces: Challenges and a Way Forward to Sustainable Development’

Lisa concluded with a call to action to all who attended the conference, encouraging collaborative discussions, and to keep conversations in the fore regarding how research at Leeds must continue to address the key social, economic and environmental challenges of our time.

A huge thank you to all who were a part of the day. It was fantastic to see such a diverse turn out. We already looking forward to next year!

For more information on the Student Conference on Sustainable Futures, including posters and highlights of the day, please CLICK HERE

Sustainability Architect Spring Update – Amy

Amy

Since meeting with several engagement coordinators, student enhancement officers and faculty education service managers I have been able to better understand how a Sustainability Rep would fit into different faculties across the University. It has allowed me to grasp an idea of what is required of me, as a Sustainability Architect, for the role to be taken seriously within each faculty. Therefore, over the next couple of weeks I am working towards completing a draft profile for the Sustainability Rep position as well as researching how to attain HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Record) accreditation for the role .

Additionally, having been liaising with the Sustainability Service’s Projects Officer, Amanda, and Manager, Claire, in looking into the possibility of of setting up a new community initiative, loosely based around a mentoring, and will aim to increase student engagement within the Leeds community and better integrate students with local residents. I look forward to seeing where this will lead!

Sustainability Architect Spring Update – Will

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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.

Sustainability Architect Spring Update – Ileyas

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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!

Sustainable Labs Working Group Returns!

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After a longer than average summer break the Sustainable Laboratories Working Group has made a comeback! Albeit with a less than impressive tan.

Chaired by Associate Professor Louise Jennings, the group brings together researchers, technicians, and services from across the university to discuss options to reduce the negative environmental, economic, and social impacts laboratories impose on both a local and national scale.

Previous successes to arise from the meetings include the Reuse@Leeds:labs network, allowing lab users to share chemicals, glassware and electrical equipment. They have have also enabled the refurbishment of 64 fume cupboards in the Priestly Chemistry Lab which saved 511 tonnes of carbon emissions over a 6 month period between 2013/14.

On Tuesday 23rd February the group congregated for the first time this year to share updates, both positive and negative, on sustainable working practices across laboratory spaces. We discussed management systems for chemical storage, such as LabCup, and how to achieve more effective equipment sharing and procurement strategies. We also looked at energy efficient practices for ultra-cold storage, water use, and fume cupboards. These will be some of the key issues as we try to create a more sustainable laboratory network.

Think about it, in an average week how much waste have you produced? Was it recyclable? How much energy did you use? Could you have used less? Have you shared any pieces of equipment?What equipment could you have shared?

The Working Group would like to engage as many lab users as possible in the sustainable laboratory network. Joshua West (Sustainability Service Projects Assistant) is on the lookout for enthusiastic technicians looking to bolster their public speaking skills and share their sustainable working practices at this spring’s Sustainability Forum (date TBC).

If this opportunity catches you eye or if you have any questions about the working group or the Sustainability Service in general then please contact Josh at j.west1@leeds.ac.uk

Sustainability Architects 2015/16

Amy

Hello – I’m Amy, one of the four new Sustainability Architects here at the University of Leeds. My role as part of the Sustainability team is to encourage and promote student and community engagement with all things sustainable!

As part of this I hope to continue to develop the role of a “Sustainability Representative” within each school.  Their role would be to put sustainability on the agenda by integrating knowledge of it into teaching and assessments, promoting sustainable practice within their school and departmental society encouraging other students to get involved, share their ideas and help to develop new initiatives for both environmental and social sustainability.

Being from Leeds, I understand how important it is to integrate students with the local community. There is no better way of doing this than through sustainability! I aim to do this by promoting  volunteering and community engagement projects within the University and Union setting – bringing to the attention of students what is available for them to get involved in around Leeds.

I hope to create an environment where students feel they are able to get involved with sustainability and make a difference!

 

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Hey I’m Will, a second year Environmental Science student at the University of Leeds. I am planning to take a year out of University during my third year, hoping to gain more valuable experience in sustainable roles. As well as representing the sustainability service at events, I hope to increase student engagement in sustainable practices, particularly focusing my efforts on halls of residences and sport societies.

 

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Hi I’m Shara, I am currently studying my masters in Sustainability and Consultancy here at the University of Leeds. My undergraduate degree was in International Relations and my dissertation looked at environmental change and energy security in the European Union. After taking a break from University to work and travel, I started to look into sustainability in a wider context, which lead me back to higher education.

This year I hope to increase the range of individuals engaged in sustainability; moving it out of traditional circles and into mainstream discussions so it’s accessible for everyone.

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My name is Ileyas Mogeh and I am a student sustainability architect. I am currently on my second year of BA Politics. Being a sustainability architect is an exciting way to make a positive impact in your community. As an architect, you are able to do this through your area of interest, for example in my case this is democracy. This ensures that the role is enjoyable, whilst also challenging and developing your knowledge of sustainability within higher education . By August, I hope to have helped embedded sustainability in the student community through increased participation in democratic activities.