A Sustainable Leeds Curriculum

Building the knowledge and capacity through our student education programme is fundamental to our teaching strategy at Leeds, supporting this sustainable futures and responsibility is core to our Leeds Curriculum which is overseen by our Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Tom Ward, who also supports the University’s Annual Sustainability Conference.

In addition to the variety of sustainability degree programmes which are run here at the University of Leeds, sustainability is integrated into the wider curriculum through a number of different methods.

The Leeds Curriculum elective programme, Creating Sustainable Futures, allows students from a wide range of disciplines to complete sustainability modules, throughout their time at Leeds.  For more information see leedsforlife.leeds.ac.uk/Broadening/Theme/3.

Sustainability is also integrated into existing School modules, two examples of this are, Leeds University Business School Commercial and Professional Skills module and the School of Medicine RESS Special Studies Project Module.

Facilitating critical thought and creating new innovation is key to creating social societies, therefore supporting student dissertations and research projects is vital to our approach.  Each year we hold cross University dissertation workshops,  directly support dissertation projects in the Sustainability Service, Estates Services and Commercial and Campus Support Services as well as actively encourage student dissertation ideas through our Living Lab Programme.

We work with colleagues across the University to develop teaching material and share experience of integrating sustainability into the curriculum, if you would like support in this area please contact Josh West.

We celebrate and showcase the amazing work our students have completed through modules and their research at our Student Conference on Sustainable Futures. This conference promotes the sharing of ideas between students and staff and helps promote best practice in research and teaching.

We report our progress throughout the year to the University Executive Group via the Sustainability Steering Group, Student Education Board, and in our Annual Sustainability Report. Through this process, we assess our achievements and agree on future plans to ensure that we stay on track on our commitment to embed sustainability across the curriculum.

Aminah’s Work Experience

Hi, I’m Aminah and after about 6 weeks, I will be in year 11 for my final year of my GCSE’s at Roundhay High School. I have been here with the sustainability team for 2 weeks of work experience, and I’m so glad I have! The team looked after me really well, on top of giving me lots to do and learn. This whole experience has given me a much better understanding of what subjects I may pursue as I move onto A-level, because I can now link the subjects with degrees I learned about, that I may want to do.

On my first day (Monday), I got a huge tour of the University campus, which I’m really grateful for because if not I would have got lost countless times during these two weeks. It was also really interesting to see all of the different schools, and how much variety there is with degrees, that I before was oblivious about.

Tuesday was especially good, because a free breakfast was served due to 4th July, along with its supposed theme, which made me feel extremely welcomed. During the rest of the day, I was in a laboratory for the first time. Working with Jane-Marie, who is a laboratory manager in the School of Earth and Environment, where I was setting up for the Environmental Science Academy field trip about water ecology for the next day, and getting a head start with all I was to do the following day. This was incredible, and probably the day I learned the most.

The Wednesday and Thursday of my first week, was probably the highlight of my work experience. I absolutely loved being out on the field and discovering things for myself, and meeting new people. On the Thursday I was actually volunteering on the trip as supposed to the day before where I was taking part. Volunteering gave me a responsibility I wouldn’t usually carry, but did inspire me to volunteer more when I can, because I never knew how much I enjoyed it until then. I also think I will defiantly keep my eye out for more field trips in the future to get involved in, because it’s an amazing opportunity that I’ll kick myself if I miss.

To finish up my first week, I mainly stayed with the sustainability team, doing an online research task, where I learned about how other universities are tackling issues of laboratory sustainability, compared to the University of Leeds, and then using this information to suggest improvements to the sustainability team.

Overall my first week was super enriching for me with new experiences and information, and I would do it all again if I could. I never knew the extent of how interesting and engaging sustainability and the Earth & Environment subjects could be until now.

On the Wednesday of my second week I did some tree surveying as part of a research project on campus, where as a group we went out and recorded data about the trees in St. George’s field. We also tried identifying what they were, however it was quite tricky because there are so many variations of the same tree. It was a new experience for me and I’m glad I did it because it was a nice break, and the weather was lovely too.

For the other four days I stayed in the office and continued to develop on the research tasks and gather as much information as I could. I also attended a sustainability meeting. I think it was important for me to experience what a work environment was like, and I’m glad I have because I’ve come to find it’s not as daunting as I thought it was, and for the record…way better than school!

To conclude, my whole work experience has been phenomenal, thanks to the whole sustainability team, and I wish you all the best. A special thanks to Claire Bastin for offering me to come in the first place, I enjoyed it immensely, and I hope other work experience students share the same extraordinary experiences as I did.

Sustainability in the Curriculum: LUBS Commercial and Professional Skills Module Update

This year, Masters students taking the Commercial and Professional Skills module at Leeds University Business School were given the opportunity to work with the Sustainability Service as part of a consultancy project!

Posing as internal consultants, student groups were tasked to review the student and staff awareness of sustainability initiatives across the University and develop recommendations that could improve people’s knowledge of the Sustainability Strategy and what they can get involved in.

After initial meetings with members of the Sustainability team, groups went away and collected data using a questionnaire to gain a better understanding of people’s sustainability knowledge and activities that are already taking place. They also reviewed specific areas of engagement by the University, using their results to highlight gaps for improvement and make recommendations.

The student’s proposals ranged from utilising social media trends and behaviours, to increasing visibility on campus, and tailoring campaigns for specific audiences.

This is just one of the ways we are integrating sustainability into student learning as part of our commitment to giving all students the opportunity to study and be involved in sustainability.

Student Consultancy

Sustainability Role of the Manager Course

This course is suitable for all academic, professional and support staff
with management and/or leadership roles across the University. This
course will be essential for managers who are involved in delivering the
University vision and strategic aims, and therefore need to know how to
implement elements of the University’s Sustainability Strategy as
relevant to their own roles.

Main topics covered will be:
• Sustainability: what do we mean and why is it important
• The Sustainability Strategy: Overview; Sustainability initiatives
and outcomes; Progress against the action plan; Implications for
managers
• Setting sustainability aims and objectives: personal objective
setting for sustainable outcomes in your teams

Learning and teaching methods:
The session will be very ‘hands
on’ with only short, information giving, presentations including
examples of real world scenarios. Individual and group work will be
included in the session.

By the end of the session delegates will:
• Understand what sustainability is and why it is important for the
University.
• Be equipped with the skills to identify sustainability issues in
work and wider contexts.
• Know about the University’s Sustainability Strategy and approach
to embedding sustainability.
• Understand the implications of the strategy for their roles and
develop an individual action plan relevant to their school/service/role.
• Know who to speak to about any ongoing issues they might have and
started to develop an action plan to achieve their own sustainability
goals.

Please register your place here

Living Lab

Our vision is a University where ideas and collaboration thrive, where integration of sustainability enhances the value of the campus, student education, research and innovation, and where everyone is given the knowledge and skills to be more sustainable.

The Living Lab is open to everyone. It brings together colleagues and partners from research, teaching and operational teams to co-produce innovative and transformational solutions to real-world sustainability challenges, using the campus as a test-bed. It is transdisciplinary and drives continual, sustainable improvement by tackling global challenges at the local scale.

Get involved!

Whether it is a research-led campus design addressing the challenges of climate change, trialling new sustainability initiatives with staff or students, or integrating biodiversity and wellbeing, the Living Lab programme is open to all staff and students across the University. It’s about people, processes and infrastructure and focusses on the cultural and social sciences as well as the STEM subjects.

The Living Lab is able to offer funding to projects that meet the core principles of the programme (more on those below). We are particularly looking for projects that require seed funding to get off the ground, or match funding as part of a collaborative partnership. This might be between Schools, Faculties, Services or even external stakeholders.

  • Are you developing research into sustainability challenges? Are you looking for an opportunity to trial or test a research idea or an innovative solution? Bids are invited for interdisciplinary projects that address sustainability through scalable and transferable research here at the University.
  • Are you a student considering a sustainability dissertation or other assessed project as part of your studies? You could use the campus as your test bed, gather or analyse data that supports delivery of the University’s Sustainability Strategy, or work directly with operational staff to help identify sustainable improvement. Bids are invited for applicants seeking to deliver a Living Lab project as part of their curricular activity.
  • Are you a member of staff seeking an innovative, sustainable option or solution? Have you considered seeking expert advice from an academic colleague? Could student research help to solve a problem or address a challenge? The Living Lab can help you to collaborate with the right people across the University.

You can apply to the Living Lab at any time by completing the application form below (available as a pdf or Word version) and sending it to Thom Cooper in the Sustainability Service.

Living Lab Application (Word version)     Living Lab Application (pdf version)

Projects

We’re already well underway with a variety of Living Lab projects and you can find out more about them here.

Mailing List

To keep up to date with the latest Living Lab opportunities and activities, and to join the conversation, join our mailing list here.

Principles

Projects within the Living Lab Programme should meet the following principles.

  • Be delivered in alignment with the key aims and themes of the University’s Strategic Plan and underpin delivery of the Sustainability Strategy
  • Formally support the University’s Global Challenges; be about people, processes and infrastructure, drawing on the cultural and social sciences as well as the STEM subjects
  • Integrate sustainability-related research, student education and University operations to drive continual and sustainable improvement
  • Identify, test and embed transformational solutions to ‘real world’ sustainability challenges whilst being scalable, replicable and transferable to our cities and regions
  • Drive experimental learning, enhanced participation and opportunities for outreach and engagement through co-creation and co-implemented campus-based solutions
  • Be interdisciplinary and delivered in partnership with internal and external stakeholders for mutual benefit, to increase impact and to enhance shared knowledge and action
  • Build knowledge and capacity by playing a leading role in the global debate and development of sustainable living labs

Questions?

We’ve pulled together a list of FAQs here, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for just contact Thom Cooper in the Sustainability Service who’ll be happy to help.

See the other staff opportunities available through the Sustainability Service here.

School of Healthcare Sustainability Survey

As part of the School of Healthcare’s Green Impact Silver Award, the team conducted a staff survey to help understand the attitudes and views on sustainability within the department. This would also provide a baseline of information with which to work with in future years. The questions focused around attitudes, barriers and recommendations and 43 responses were received (which was almost 20% of School staff). As the staff play an important role in meeting sustainability targets, it is beneficial to make sure that they are involved in the decision making process in an attempt to making any initiatives as successful as possible.

 

Overall, the survey was well received and provided a wide range of comments that will be useful for the department when deciding and implementing new sustainability initiatives. The results suggested that staff who answered this survey see sustainability as important and necessary; with most defining it as minimising use of resources, protecting the environment and thinking long term. When asked how they believed they contributed to sustainability at work, the two most common responses were associated with recycling and printing, indicating a focus could be put on other areas.

 

Staff felt the department could be doing more to be sustainable, and provided an interesting range of recommendations on how to do this, including light usage reminders, collecting food waste in kitchens, encouraging more remote working, better communications and changing some working practices and attitudes.

The recommendations on how the School could be more sustainable also seem to be linked to the barriers that are perceived – primarily, school processes, working practices and attitudes, time, lack of communication and issues with facilities.

The most cited barrier that stops staff from being sustainable was time, with many responses stating they are too busy to think about how they can improve their actions. The results showed that the best way to encourage the staff to be more sustainable is to demonstrate the positive impact they are having by taking these alternative actions. The survey also showed that 70% of the respondents were aware of the department’s Food Bank partnership, showing there is potential for improved communication as it is a scheme the department has really tried to push. Email was by far the most preferred method of notification about what the department is doing in relation to sustainability.

 

The information gained showed there was a definite interest in sustainability within the department, with people wanting to be able to do more. The results will influence our continuing work within the School and will also be a useful tool to compare year on year progress and receive continuous feedback.

Jack Clarke & Tim Knighton

Student Conference on Sustainable Futures 2017

knowledge

Check out the Conference Report 2017

 

 

“I really liked the mix of students and staff coming together.”

                                      “It was great to see so many different, forward looking perspectives!”

“Whoever organised the food deserves a medal! x3”

                                      “Great presentations and excellent discussions. I feel inspired. Thank you!  


A huge thank you to all the student presenters and delegates who attended the conference! It was fantastic to see such a diverse turn out, and we look forward to continuing the conversations and the future conferences to come.

 

BIG Campus Bird Watch 2017

birdwatch

On the 27th January 2017 we will be holding our seventh annual ‘Big Campus Bird Watch’. This is an opportunity for our staff and students to get involved in the campus biodiversity work by helping us to record the bird species on the campus.  This event links directly with the RSPB national event, the BIG Garden Birdwatch which takes place on the weekend of 28th/30th January.  As corporate sponsors of the RSPB, we have invited them to assist us by doing some guided walks around campus on the day. This will be an excellent opportunity to develop skills, get some advice on how best to survey, or even join the RSPB!

Two walks have been arranged on the day. If you would like to register, please email sustainability@leeds.ac.uk to book a place. The walks will start from the sustainable garden at 12pm and 1pm. Places are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Completing the survey

You can do the survey in any area of campus you like.  If you have the time and enthusiasm, you are more than welcome to submit multiple forms for different areas of campus!

You can complete the survey in a variety of ways.  We would encourage electronic reporting wherever possible and have set up an electronic form here that you can complete on the day.  Alternatively, you can download a copy of the form, along with a guidance sheet below and email to sustainability@leeds.ac.uk, or post in the internal post to Sustainability Service, Facilities Directorate Building, Cloberry Street, Leeds, LS2 9BT.

We will post the results of the survey on our website later in the spring.

Happy Surveying!

Sustainability Seminars hosted by SRI: The Unrelenting Quest to be a Generalist who is a Specialist of the Whole – Mark Workman

Abstract

The seminar talk will seek to explain how Mark’s attitude to academic exploration has been shaped by his experiences of working in the British Military on expeditionary combat operations, leading high risk and remote expeditions and running commercial business units in remote and occasionally dangerous parts of the world.

He will then go onto a brief overview of the work that he undertakes alongside the analysis team at the Energy Research Partnership with industry and policy makers on salient energy issues, with the team at the Grantham Institute Imperial College, London on strategic decision tools to address uncertainty, climate change communication around strategic narrative development, resources including Greenhouse Gas Removal technologies, the present initiative to establish a research programme on environmental induced conflict as well as the privileged experiences of working with the students on the Sustainable Energy Futures Course on a wide variety of research themes and the attempts to introduce a soft skills and leadership development component to the course.

About the Speaker

Mark HW Workman is an analyst at the Energy Research Partnership, 11 Princes Gardens, London and an Affiliate Researcher at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College, London.

He has undertaken military operational tours and extreme and high risk expeditions all over the world, and worked in West Africa and Emerging Asia running a multi-million dollar business unit of a global medical services and security company. He is developing an expertise in energy systems, innovation, resource constraints, climate change communication, environmental security and conflict.

Dr Katy Roelich is a University Academic Fellow in Climate Change and Energy Policy, jointly appointed between the School of Earth and Environment and the School of Civil Engineering. She co-leads the Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Research Group. Dr Roelich joined Leeds from the Stockholm Environment Institute, where she worked in the field of sustainable consumption and production research, and co-lead the Rethinking Development Theme.

Directions to the Venue

School of Earth and Environment Seminar Rooms (8.119). At the Earth and Environment Reception take the door on the right-hand side. The Seminar Rooms are immediately on the left.

Campus Map: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/timetable/assets/map/index.htm

 

Biodiversity

Acescitas comnis sinum

As one of the largest landowners in Leeds, the University has a responsibility to take biodiversity seriously.  With a diverse combination of urban areas, residential sites, woodland and sports grounds, we maintain a variety of habitats to meet user needs across the city.  In 2011, with the introduction of our first Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), we have worked with a number of partners both internally and externally to ensure that we continue to have a net positive effect on the biodiversity of our estate.

Our Approach

It is becoming more important that all public bodies, including universities, plan for and consider biodiversity on their grounds. In its ‘Sustainable Development in Higher Education’ strategy the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) committed to promote sustainable estates management, including biodiversity. At the same time the Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC) strategy ‘From Here to Sustainability’ also identifies biodiversity as a key part of their principles and actions. The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) identify nine benefits for universities that have an active biodiversity agenda:

  • Improved reputation and green image
  • Potential to develop partnerships between staff and students
  • Opportunities for education and curriculum greening
  • Campus contribution to healthy living and wellbeing
  • Enhanced volunteering opportunities for students

In 2016 we launched our new ‘Biodiversity Standard‘ which builds on the previous plan and provides an overarching strategy for how we manage all of our properties as well as strengthening our position in the city and across the sector as exemplars of urban biodiversity practices.  We launched a revised version of our campus Biodiversity Action Plan for the city campus in May 2017.  This is largely an operational progress document, which is monitored through the Biodiversity Group.  The campus plan can be viewed here.