#MyImpact: Sustainability Projects Assistant


Harriet Matthews stood by a tree

My name is Hatty and I have been one of the Sustainability Interns this year for the Sustainability Service.

I initially applied for the role because I wanted to gain a diverse experience and understanding of what it could mean within the incredibly broadly-termed ‘sustainability’ sector. I can definitely say I got a taste of this!

Coming to sustainability with a greater interest and experience of the social, rather than environmental side, of sustainability, I both enhanced and furthered my interest in this area, and pushed myself to explore more of the areas which were often confusing – and slightly scary – to my non-science-y brain. Throughout my role, I have worked heavily on the #2023PlasticFree campaign, student citizenship programme, co-organising this years digital (suprise!) sustainability awards with Kate, and assisting in the coordination of the University’s submission for the 2020 Times Higher Education Impact Awards. Myself and Kate have also done a lot of work in enhancing the use of social media to better engage with students.

This year has hugely broadened my understanding of both sustainability – crucially, encompassing  both environmental and social elements – and ways of working towards sustainable solutions in such a huge organisation. The diverse range of work I was able to help assist with over the course of the year highlighted to me the need to look holistically at the ways in which we create sustainable change in an educational setting, be that through research, operations, teaching, or leadership – all are equally vital. My role offered me the chance to look at all these areas, for example through how we combine the exciting ongoing research into plastic reduction and alternatives with how this can be implemented operationally.

My role in gathering the required data for this year’s submission for the Times Higher Education Impact Award was also a hugely rewarding project to work on. It involved me working across vast sectors of the University, seeking out data used as evidence for how the University is tackling the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It was a hugely striking insight into the broad — and fascinatingly specific — areas of what goes on behind the scenes to create a such a far-reaching sustainable impact at the University.

I have relished the opportunity to be a member of such a forward-thinking sector of the University, and the chance to provide insight as a recent graduate is something that enabled me to contribute to team discussions on a range of issues, from student engagement, stakeholder engagement, and even strategic direction of the team.

This year has instilled in me the sense that whatever career go on to pursue, sustainability has to be at the forefront; I have worked with countless of inspiring people across the University, and if anything, working within the Sustainability Service has demonstrated the importance of sustainability as an embedded component of how we all operate, in whatever field that may be – and wherever I end up!