Being a Student Sustainability Architect: Conferences and Curriculum

Rachel standing in the countryside smiling with pink jacket and hat

Student architect, Rachel DeCordoba shares with us her thoughts as this year draws to a close, on her experience being a sustainability architect.

 

Wow, where did the year go? It’s hard to believe that my time as an Architect is already coming to a close, but it’s been a great experience, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.
As a major highlight, the fourth annual Student Sustainability Research Conference proved to be a success. After helping to prepare for event, it was inspiring to see students present original research from so many different programmes and backgrounds, truly proving that sustainability is a multidisciplinary concept. Students worked to intentionally link their research with the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well, demonstrating how different research topics can be connected to larger common goals.  From viewing posters to attending presentations to experiencing interactive exhibits, I agree with conference attendees’ feedback that the day was both educational and enjoyable. I learned so much!
I also spent time this year working on how to integrate sustainability into the larger university curriculum and opportunities for research, including researching best practices from other universities around the world. Very quickly, it became apparent just how much of a leader the University of Leeds is in this field, from developing an auditing tool to link existing modules to Sustainable Development Goals, to compiling a comprehensive list of past dissertations relating to sustainability. Having such a large community at this university both amplifies opportunities for spreading the word about sustainability research and curriculum, but can also pose a challenging question for how best to reach students and staff. It’s my hope and prediction that with a combination of robust online resources and the further development of relationships between and within departments, students will gain a greater understanding of opportunities for sustainable research, and staff will utilise resources to implement sustainable aspects in their curricula. 
I’m so thankful to have been a part of this team, who has been so flexible with virtual and remote working during this pandemic (from different continents, no less!). While I’m sad that my one year at the university is nearly over, I look forward to watching future Architects and the Sustainability team continue with these exciting campaigns. This year’s experience has reinforced the idea that we need people from all disciplines to truly realise a sustainable world, and I look forward to seeing what comes next!