Welcome to This Year’s Student Sustainability Architects

The University of Leeds Sustainability Services team is pleased to welcome eight new staff members, who will each take on the role of a Student Sustainability Architect.

The new Student Sustainability Architects will provide support with student engagement activities, events, campaigns and initiatives. They take the lead on delivering projects that align with our strategic objectives and also develop their own ideas to increase student participation with sustainability. Please help us to welcome Dave, Katy, Nicola, Lulu, Chloe, Sophia, Rory and Clare to the team.

Katy Warner, Sustainability in Catering Architect

Hi, I’m Katy, and I’m currently studying a Masters in Climate Change and Environmental Policy. I’m one of the Student Sustainability Architects for 2018-19, working in sustainability in Catering Services. One of my main sustainability interests is in food procurement and the impact that your food choices can have on the environment.

This year I am aiming to work with the University Catering Service to reduce the meat content of some of the meals served on campus and to increase the number of vegetarian options. Did you know that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and that by feeding crops to humans rather than animals we could feed 3 billion more people? Hopefully, I will be able to encourage staff and students to be more conscious of the environment when they made their food choices! This is a significant task, and I’m excited to get started.

Sophia Nicolov, Living Lab Architect

Hi, I’m Sophia Nicolov and I’m a second-year PhD student. My research focuses on whales and marine ecosystems, bringing together the Environmental Humanities and marine conservation sciences. I’m researching some of the most pressing issues of our generation so I really care about sustainability and finding ways to tackle these problems.

I’m a Sustainability Architect for the Living Labs programme, which I’m really excited about because it addresses a range of sustainability issues in innovative ways with diverse researchers. My PhD is really interdisciplinary, so I can’t wait to work with researchers from different disciplines and help create some exciting projects and networks. While I’m really passionate about my own research I’m also driven to make a practical difference – this is why it’s so great to be working on this project.

I’ve been a student for six years now (a long time!) so I have a good understanding of what engages students. Since my undergraduate degree, I have used my own assessed work to explore environmental issues and this puts me in a good position to offer guidance to students undertaking Living Labs dissertations and projects. With a background in humanities, I’ll bring some creativity to this role – hopefully I’ll get students from the arts, humanities and social sciences engaged alongside those from STEM subjects!

Rory Hayes, Blueprint Architect

Hello! I’m Rory, a final year BA Geography student here at the University. This year I’ve been hired to continue the work I took part in last year as part of my industrial year working with the Sustainability team, piloting the new engagement scheme called ‘Blueprint’. After the success of the pilots we carried out over the 2017/18 academic year, Blueprint has now launched in full and is something we are getting really excited about in the team. My role this year is mainly to aid in the running of workshops and engagement sessions, as well as continuing the work I did last year to assist and continue to build the new scheme and ensure its successful implementation with teams.

We hope that Blueprint will mark the next step in embedding Sustainability at the University of Leeds. I hope to get out and talk to as many people as possible across campus and work to encourage collaboration between schools and services, by using the knowledge I have of the University from my placement year. By sharing my enthusiasm I want to involve as many people as possible in Sustainability all across campus to try and make a real difference!

Clare Martynski, Sustainability in the Curriculum Architect

Following an enjoyable twelve months as a Student Sustainability Architect, I’m delighted to be back for another year! Since previous blogs have covered a bit about me, my interest in the role, and an insight into what I worked on last year, I’ll keep this short and sweet.

I’m looking forward to extending the work that I contributed to last year, continuing to make strides towards fully integrating sustainability into the curriculum. That includes getting a firmer grasp on what a sustainable curriculum looks like for the University of Leeds, and drawing further on the expertise and enthusiasm that already exists throughout the institution.

And of course getting involved with the next Student Sustainability Conference, for which plans are already afoot!

I’m really excited to be working with Kelly Forster this year, who is bringing fresh insights and new energy to the curriculum work. And I’m looking forward to getting to know the new Architects who are bringing an array of experience to the roles.

Nicola Wood, Residential Services Student Engagement Architect

Hi Everyone. I’m Nicola, a final year PhD student studying Bioenergy in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering. My project focuses on how algae can be grown in wastewater treatment facilities to help remove harmful contaminants from water and to produce oil that can be turned into a sustainable source of fuel.

As one of this year’s Student Sustainability Architects, I will be working with the halls of residences to inform and engage students about sustainable living. There are lots of tiny changes that everyone can make to live a more sustainable lifestyle and with such a large student population in Leeds, we have the opportunity to make a real difference.

I’d love to hear any ideas or feedback you have so please feel free to email me at pmnjw@leeds.ac.uk

Lulu Kariba, Student Engagement Architect

Hello

My Name is Lulu and I am glad to be joining the Sustainability Architect team this year. I am currently doing a Masters in Sustainability and Business at University of Leeds. I have an interest in various aspects of sustainability, particularly ethical/green consumption as well as sustainable lifestyles. As a sustainable architect I am excited to learn new things about sustainability and use my experience to fulfil my role.

This year I would like to make a positive contribution however big or small and hopefully inspire others to do the same. Sustainability is part of a wide range of topics and issues, but sustainability can also be personal. I hope I can encourage others to engage with sustainability projects, discussions and aim for it to make a personal contribution to your life.

I look forward to working with the student community, the university and the local community to promote sustainability through various projects.

Chloe Badge, Biodiversity Action Planning Architect

Hi everyone, my name is Chloe and I am in my final year of BSc Environmental Science. My sustainability architect role is focusing on biodiversity around the campus and university accommodations. Over the coming months I will be surveying some of the university residences to look at their current biodiversity value, and looking into ways they could perhaps be improved. My first task is some areas of empty grass around Charles Morris halls, and looking at what things can be planted to attract more wildlife, but also be of value to students living there.

I love being outside and am passionate about us looking after our local wildlife, so I’m really excited to be involved in this at Leeds University!

Dave Burt, Plastics Architect

My name is David Burt and I am at Leeds studying an MSc in Climate Change and Environmental Policy. My sustainability architect project is looking at how to minimise plastic waste, particularly single use plastics. This is getting plenty of media attention everywhere from supermarkets to the legend that is David Attenborough, so it’s an exciting time to make a change. However, it’s not as easy as swapping to paper straws, (plastic is everywhere!) but it is a challenge I look forward to.

I am really keen to help Leeds Uni reduce plastic waste and the more people that get involved the better so if you have any ideas on how you think we can reduce plastics at uni then please let me know! My email is ee18djsb@leeds.ac.uk

 

To keep up to date with progress on each of the Architect’s projects follow us on social media and search for #ArchitectsofPossibility.

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 Kelly Forster.

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.

We make support academic staff to integrate Sustainability into the curriculum. Please contact Kelly Forster for further details.

The University is pleased to offer scholarships for forced migrants to the UK. For details of the Sanctuary Scholarship visit: www.leeds.ac.uk/info/123000/international_students/598/sanctuary_scholarship

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

Creating Sustainable Futures Module – Key Findings 2017

The award-winning Creating Sustainable Futures (CSF) Discovery Theme is a collection of optional curricular modules that students can take alongside their degree subject to broaden their knowledge of the social, economic, environmental and cultural aspects of sustainability.

Each year, students taking the ‘Introduction to Creating Sustainable Futures’ module apply what they have been learning to real world use, collecting sustainability data from across campus as part of their practical group work assessment.

Back in October and March, 57 students undertook a ‘travel’, ‘waste’, ‘energy’, ‘Fairtrade’ or ‘community’ themed project over the course of a week. From assessing the University’s bicycle storage capacities and route accessibility, to gaining a better understanding of people’s perceptions of the University’s positive and negative impacts on society, teams collected data from all corners of campus, capturing a snapshot review of sustainability at Leeds.

The data collected is fed back to the University Sustainability team to help create a timeline of recordings and supplement other audits that take place throughout the year. Student’s data collections not only provide hands-on experience of sustainability in practice, allowing them to put their understanding of issues into context, but also present the University with extremely useful information on current sustainability trends.
Some key findings from semester two’s groups included;

  • Of the 269 empty teaching and communal spaces that were assessed as part of the Energy Project, 47% of them had their lights switched on when not in use.
  • 2/3 of the 75 people surveyed as part of the Fairtrade project were unaware that the University of Leeds is a Fairtrade institution, but half were recorded as understanding the importance of supporting Fairtrade.
  • For the Waste project, 86 recycle bin opportunities and their locations were recorded across the 8 buildings that were audited across campus.
  • 89% of respondents to the Community project questionnaire agreed that Leeds’ international research contribution has a significant positive impact on society.

This module is just one of the ways we are helping deliver our Sustainability Strategy commitments of integrating sustainability into student learning. We intend to further increase the take-up of the Creating Sustainable Futures modules by students from all disciplines, helping them to understand the fundamentals of sustainability and how it applies to their future careers.

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!”