SDGs TeachIn Week – Final Results

 

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As many of you might remember, last month at De Montfort University (DMU), the SDGs TeachIn Week took place among the various faculties. The SDGs TeachIn is an initiative run by the Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS) that encourages academics at all levels of education to embed the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within their classes, labs, workshops, and seminars. The project was created to implement the links between the SDGs and academia with the hope that the future leaders of tomorrow will apply these teachings to make a positive change to society.

This week we have received the final results on how DMU has been doing in terms of students and staff engagement compared to other universities, and we could not be prouder. Over twenty universities across the UK participated in the programme and DMU has placed itself first for the number of students reached, which resulted in 30% of the total amount of students at the university. Furthermore, the very high number of academics who decided to pledge to the SDGs TeachIn Week has helped us achieve the second place for staff involvement.

We are thrilled to be able to share that the brilliant work done by the team and by every lecturer who committed to this project has paid off. Our students have certainly gained a lot from the sessions and we hope that they will put into place the skills and knowledge earned during the week.

If you are curious to find out more about the SDGs TeachIn, click on the link for our previous article, or follow our social media channels to see our posts on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

My time as Sustainability Communications Frontrunner

This is my last week of work as my internship contract period is coming to the end. It is still unbelievable for me that the person who I am today is obviously different from the one in October last year. I have started working as a person who have a keen interest in environmental issues and sustainable development. During the first few weeks, Karl, our Sustainability Manager, and the team, gave Carolina and I a warm welcome and we both knew that we were so excited to be part of our growing team.

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My main responsibility involves researching existing channels and implement new social media channels to increase and improve online presence of sustainableDMU. I found that most of the existing social network channels are not fully utilised. Weekly social posts plan and other initiatives have been proposed to Karl and he has never said ‘NO’. Instead, he has always contributed in converting these ideas into a reality. Several posters and artwork are created to promote what DMU have done so far with the sustainability. New video and article are published through social media usage along these eventful months. Constructive feedback from the team has substantially enhanced the quality of these assets. I have liaised with Estate and Facilities members, other Frontrunners, and ESDG people to ensure a consistent and targeted messages on sustainability and environmental issues to support campaigns and awareness events.

As a gradually increasing engagement rate from DMU students and staff has been achieved, we, as a team, had a chance to consult with Interim Vice-Chancellor about strategic plan to raise their awareness further towards environmental behaviour changing. Moreover, we have worked alongside with academic team to embed Education for sustainable development within their courses during the SDG teach-in week. With a collaborative effort, DMU has reached the top for the rankings in students reached and second for the number of academic pledged. We also got the highest survey responses for NUS Sustainability Skills 2019. I could not be happier for these results!

One of the most favourite part I love in this job is to getting to learn new things every day from writing articles, interviewing staff, gaining new knowledge in Fairtrade products, and running stalls in #1000 Voices project. From time to time, Carolina and Ross have tremendously helped me getting these things done smoothly and fantastically. Talking to people in different departments or someone who I have never imagine this kind of job would lead me to is unexpectedly joy for me. For example, Daniel, who are our Trinity Herb Garden caretaker, his perspective and work motivation really fuel my ever growing passion in sustainability. These people around me ignites my soul and in out of the blue, I have become a more thoughtful person in every action I take in daily life. This is truly fulfilling my goal in working here being able to talk and influence people around me towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

Not just a steep learning curve in environmental issues and employability skills I have gained from the real-world work environment, warm connections and valuable friendship with the sustainableDMU team are unforgettable things in my life. I hope that one day when DMU is mentioned, it will remind people of one of the leading sustainable university in the UK. All the great efforts have created an impact for the students, staff, and the public, and eventually, this could help us contribute to a more sustainable community. Finally, best of luck to the new intern! You will never regret joining this position.

My Time as Sustainable Development Frontrunner

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Hey there! It’s me again, Carolina, your Sustainable Development Frontrunner this year.

As my internship comes to an end, I thought I’d share with you my experience working within the Sustainability Team at DMU to give you a taste of what has been like.

To apply for a Frontrunner position has been one of the best decisions I have ever made during my time at university. This gave me the opportunity to develop a whole range of skills that have already proven helpful when applying for placement and will certainly be of hand during my last year, as well as when looking for a graduate role. Nevertheless, being a Frontrunner doesn’t only mean increasing your employability potential, but also learning more about what you like and dislike doing workwise, getting to know yourself better, and working closely with a wonderful and supportive team.

One of the aspects that I have been enjoying the most about this experience is being provided with responsibilities early on. As soon as I have started working, I felt an integral part of the team as I was immediately given relevant tasks, such leading the “Responsible Future” programme, and my opinion was always highly valued.

The Sustainability Team is a small but lovely group of people with a true passion for their job, committed to making life on campus eco-friendlier and listening to the student voice on the matter. Being involved in events such as “Pizza for the Planet” and “1000 Voices” has given me the opportunity to really engage with the student community and to understand their views on sustainability issues, which has inspired and motivated me to continue working within the field.

Some of the main projects that I have been working on are the “Responsible Future” programme, “Green Impact”, and the “SDG TeachIn Week”. The first is a an externally assessed accreditation run by the Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS) that aims to put sustainability and social responsibility at the heart of education, to make sure that future graduates will gain the skills and understanding of how to make a positive impact in society. On the other hand, “Green Impact” focuses on how to incorporate sustainability among faculties and university employees by running a competition that brings staff and students together. Finally, the “SDG TeachIn” is a week-long event that drives academics to embed the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within their lectures, seminars and workshops with the goal to inform students of the links with their chosen subject and how they can implement change.

I believe that these schemes perfectly reflect the willingness of the team to integrate sustainable behaviour around campus, in the taught curricula, and among both staff and students. I very much enjoyed taking part in them myself by organising the schedules, updating the workbooks, and supporting students and staff in their activities.

It is safe to say that I couldn’t have asked for a better place to undertake my first “adventure” in a real working environment. I am extremely grateful for the chance given me to prove my capabilities and to be able to enhance some more. I will surely treasure everything I have learned, and I will cherish all the memories made with the team throughout my time with them. If you have an interest in sustainability, do not miss out on the possibility to work as a Sustainability Communications Frontrunner next year, applications are open, and you won’t be let down! 

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Have your say on DMU’s travel initiatives #1000 Voices

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As we are moving towards sustainable cities and communities, this year DMU, in collaboration with ESDG (https://esdg.our.dmu.ac.uk), have launched the 1000 Voices project. We aim to gather the DMU community’s ideas and actions towards sustainable development and increase the numbers of students/staff taking advantage of sustainability-related initiatives run by the university. We also would like to know if there is any particular aspect or issue that students want us to give an importance on. Therefore, feedback will be collected through a series of events and activities. There will be free fairtrade chocolate for participants. The events will run from 11AM-2PM on the following dates and locations:

  • Thursday 5th March: De Montfort Students’ Union, Campus Centre
  • Friday 6th March: Kimberlin Library
  • Wednesday 11th March: Vijay Patel Reception/Foyer area (west wing entrance)
  • Thursday 12th March: Food Village
  • Friday 13th  March: De Montfort Students’ Union

More dates and locations will be coming soon. Check out our social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for further details.

We want your ideas on four questions:

  1. What are your ideas to make DMU a more sustainable university?
  2. What are your frustrations about DMU’s sustainability at the moment?
  3. What action are you already taking on sustainability issues?
  4. What action can you pledge to take to help make a difference?

To get ahead of the game fill in the online survey to express your views and to get your voice heard. For more information click here

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FILL OUT THE SURVEY NOW!

Your voice could influence DMU’s travel plans and help us work towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

New herb garden project 2020

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Today, our Sustainability team had a chance to interview Eva and Tiziana, our senior lecturers from Faculty of Health and Life sciences, and Daniel Kirk, our beloved garden caretaker in Trinity Herb garden at DMU regarding their new herb garden project coming up this year.

The main purposes of the project are exploring and authenticating plant species due to their genetic diversity. Starting from the idea of introducing labels and signages, they expect to give a validated information of the usage of each plant to garden visitors (students, staff, visitors). From their previous researches, it has been found that some people unintentionally use the wrong plant species to manage diabetes symptom. Therefore, they aim to enhance general public awareness and understanding to address potential misconception in particular species.

“We are planning to have an Ocimum area. Ocimum is a genus of aromatic plants presents in all continents and there are about 60 species excluding the varieties, so eventually and potentially this area could be quite vast. In this genus belongs plants used for cooking e.g. basilicum but also medicinal plants e.g. Tulsi ( O. tenuiflorum) which has been linked to improving symptoms related to Diabetes type 2. Unfortunately, here in UK, many people grow and use O. gratissimum instead, thinking that it is tenuiflorum.” – Tizianna

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The main area of selected herbs will be grown in the area no. 18 according to the latest garden layout of trinity herb garden. Apart from a variety of Ocimum basilicum, they are also planning to have an Echinacea area. Several species of the Echinacea plant are used to make medicine from its leaves, flower, and root. This useful plant is widely used to fight infections, especially the common cold, and the flu and other types of infections including urinary tract, ear and throat infections.

Moreover, our craft gardener Daniel is also keen in sowing other herbs/vegetables to ensure a mixed of colorful flowers and nice garden. Some of them are including:

  • Red Perilla shiso ,
  • Licorice Mint Agastache rugosa ,
  • Corriandrum sativa ,
  • Fennel and dill ,
  • Lovage
  • Sweet Cicely
  • Papalo Porophyllum coloratum south American citrus herb
  • Pipiche Porophyllum tagetoides Mexican citrus
  • Huacatay Peruvian black mint

He told us briefly how passionate he is while working in this garden and how it is linked to sustainability.

“I’m taking this role because I care about sustainability and I know it would be fantastic to do a small project working with the chefs, as I am ex-chef as well.”
“I go around with the baskets of herbs and vegetables, loads of nice and fresh bean and you know you don’t need much herb, and then they take them all to add on their fantastic salads”
“This little project would be fantastic if we could do it on a bigger scale. For example, having a farm or a field outside the city where all the students can come, enjoy, and be educated… and then you can bring all the food back and they are all go to the kitchen. Something university can grow their own stuff and make it more sustainable. ”
“Our seed supplier Real Seeds Company, they collect their own seeds from the qualified sources at the reasonable price. Their heirloom and heritage vegetable seeds are specially chosen for kitchen garden. No hybrid or GMO seeds. They also follow sustainable practices, like, they supply much of seeds in paper envelopes and their processes are powered by 100% renewable energy as well.” – Daniel.

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This project also facilitates students who are working on their existing researches related to authentication of specific plants. Not only biomedical students, frontrunners, graduate champions, and placement students who are come from different background such as Forensic Science. also gain a lot of knowledge from this project as they can apply them with their courses/projects.

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The only major challenge in this project is the climate condition, which each plant requires different environment in order to grow successfully. However, Grow room in biomedical science department at DMU have consistently provided latest grow lights and equipment to make sure that any commenced project has undergone a smooth operation.

Finally, it becomes noticeable that this new herb garden project encourages us to adopt more sustainable lifestyle. Waste is minimised as dry leaves can still be used in laboratory studies. Students can support a low carbon footprint in each meal they buy from our Riverside Café as vegetables and herbs are delivered directly to the kitchen within a walking distance. Sustainable consumption and production are achieved and well-being of people in our community is enhanced.

SDG Teach-In Week 2020

 

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Last week at De Montfort University (DMU), it was the SDGs Teach-In week, an initiative run by the Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS) that calls upon educators from across all stages of education to pledge to include the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within their teaching. The SOS has developed this project with the aim to raise awareness of why the Sustainable Development Goals should be at the heart of further and higher education, and help catalyse the change needed to make this happen.

At DMU almost 40 academics have decided to dedicate their lectures throughout the week to educate their students on the importance of sustainability and how the SGDs can be embedded within their formal, informal and hidden curricula. This has resulted in students from all the departments having a chance to view theit field of study under a different perspective, as well as to gain skills and knowledge that will help them once they graduate. According to SOS latest figures, between all universities that have taken part in the programme, DMU has placed itself first by percentage of students reached and second by the number of academic who have pledged.

Our Sustainability Team went along to some of the lectures, seminars and workshops that took place during the #SDGsTeachIn and found them all incredibly interesting and engaging. The students who attended them seemed to gain a lot of knowledge and opened up to new ways of thinking about sustainability.

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Nikki, our Sustainability Communication Frontrunner, joined two sessions from the Contour Fashion module. The first one on Wednesday afternoon was run by Mik Pieniazek, a senior lecturer in Product Design, and co-hosted by Rachel Toner, Programme leader for Contour Fashion and Contour Fashion Communications. The session was all about how design students can drive sustainable circular economy. The thought-provoking introduction mainly focused on the recent global climate crisis and the current “linear economy”, concept based on the use of resources as they were unlimited. The three key strategies towards a “circular economy” were then introduced. Cyclical usability, resource conservation, and slower consumption all link to the Sustainable Development Goals and the practical 18 circular innovation sub-principles embedded were also explained.  As designers, students can mitigate the negative impact of the textiles industry, which is currently expected to drastically increase by 2050. By the end of the session, useful materials and resources were provided to students for further study and to empower them in pursuing a more sustainable design approach.

Moving to the second session on Friday afternoon, Rachel Higginbottom delivered an insightful topic: “Creativity in circular economy: What is the role of designers?”. The key pillars of circular design are developed around sustainability as follows:

  •  Design Approach: Zero waste, Garment Lifecycle, Modular Design, Digitisation
  •  Materials: Recyclable, Non-toxic process, Reduce microplastic, Bio-based
  •  Business Models: Renting, Repairing, Sharing, Subscription

Design companies who have successfully embraced environmentally-friendly practices within their business were also mention. Most importantly, students have learned how, as  prospect designers, a compelling story and a convincing proof of concept about sustainability could effectively change the mindsets of the people around them.

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Carolina, our Sustainable Development Frontrunner, has explored how the department of Politics and People has committed to embedding the Sustainable Development Goals within its taught curricula for the second year in a row.
The module “Politics in Action”, run by Associate Professor Ros Lishman, presents second year students with the opportunity to scope, develop and implement a project which aims to tackle one or more of the SDGs at a local level. Furthermore, the module perfectly aligns with the University Strategic Plan by working closely with the public engagement team at DMU Local.

Politics in Action aspires to provide students with a vast range of transferable skills and increase their employability level while committing to the realisation of a more sustainable community.
A survey run before and after the module has demonstrated that students had little or no understanding of the SDGs, and that the module has motivate them to undertake further action in the future. Additionally, they have been able to implement the teachings received in order to obtain a placement position or by developing a dissertation around the subject in their last year of studies.

Some of the projects that have been taking place during these two years comprehend the “Zero Waste” project, with the goal to promote awareness around alternative and more sustainable life styles, the “Paper Project”, and the “Hunger Waste” one, which look at reducing the amount of paper used on campus, as well as the food wasted among the catering outlets.

We are extremely pleased about the positive feedback and great number of sign-up to the SDGs Teach-In week this year. Even though the event has now finished, we are thrilled that academics are starting to implement sustainability in their entire modules, rather than during a single week. These activities are designed to raise awareness among our students and allow them to acknowledge how their generation can make a difference when it comes to sustainability related issues. Finally, do not forget to keep up to date with our many upcoming events through our social media channels @SustainableDMU.

Pizza for the Planet 3

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In the evening of February 4th, we arranged Pizza for the Planet 3 at room 0.11 Queens Building aiming to engage students in sustainability issues with a contemporary view to forming sustainable living society. This time, the event was led by frontrunners and placement student in our team. As we would like to ensure that participated students would get a distinctive experience, we have revised the event rundown and add more interactive activities. The most important aspect of casual networking event is that people actually network, so we made our priority to allocate small groups in each table in order to facilitate interactions.

After the introduction of team members, we have invited students to participate in the “Sustainability Bingo”, which aims to assess their understandings about sustainability words, for example, insulated wall and smart meters, and be a initial ice breaker or conversation starter between them. Then, we have a 15-minute short break for PIZZA. While everyone was finishing their own pizza, “Chinese Whisper” game was introduced. The second game has the goal to inform student on the sustainable initiatives that DMU offers to students, such as water fountains, free locks and cycle store. This enables students to get tips in order to pursue a more sustainable life. Giggling sound and funny moment occurred during this session as it is clearly show how small errors can end up making a difference. Unfortunately, we could not run all prepared statements due to a tight schedule. However, the missing ones have been explained to the students and related supplementary information are provided by our team members.

Besides, we have talked briefly about the Carbon Literacy Training programme, its requirement, benefits, and expectation and also provide a next step in registration in case that students would like to get involved. For the last 30 minute of session, we resume the group relax with the “Who am I? – Sustainability edition” game. The activity has the aim to develop their knowledge of sustainable logos and celebrities who have showed interest in sustainable initiatives. This will hopefully push them to look out for the logos when purchasing products, as well as to engage with the initiatives run by celebrities. Winners from each activities are rewarded with Fairtrade Chocolate and everyone is entitled to get DMU reusable mugs. Lastly, we have promoted the events, such as the Students Switch-off and the Green Impact to encourage engagement from the students.

We truly hope that all participants would find this session fun and informative. Keep your eyes out for the next activities and follow our regular updates via social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @SustainableDMU. Hope to see you all soon!