“The university embraces its role in the global community”

Sensemaking / “The university embraces its role in the global community”

Matt Fowle, winner of a student blogging competition by the National Union of Students and Green Futures, shares his vision of the future university.

05 Jun 2013

The sustainable university of 2050 is a model institution that recognises its unique ability to positively influence thousands, through its roles as consumer, educator and community leader.

It is a carbon neutral institution, incorporating sustainability throughout its design, operations, and procedures. Buildings which meet or exceed the most advanced BREEAM or LEED criteria generate energy exclusively through renewable sources such as photovoltaic panels and biomass generators whilst also composting human waste, collecting rainwater for potable use and recycling grey water. Campuses are transformed into green landscapes that use open land to produce and serve locally grown, organic food, and also actively encourage biodiversity and pollination. Policies and procedures include provisions that eliminate or offset the university’s environmental impact with such provisions also incorporated into intramural and extramural contracts and grants. Sustainability is at the heart of decision-making processes.

The sustainable university of 2050 goes beyond adopting green policies, operations and infrastructure. It is an environmental leader, inspiring businesses and institutions, changing communities and motivating students and staff. Green initiatives play an essential part in attracting new participation, and include subsidized cycle and carbon neutral public transport schemes as well as innovative environmental awareness campaigns encouraging lifestyle changes from buying local and organic to reducing household waste and energy consumption. The university also embraces its role in the global community in which sustainability is essential not just for some, but for all. Sustainability is therefore integrated into the educational curriculum. Additionally, innovative environmental research projects are solicited and funded.

The sustainable university of 2050 encourages each and every person to take ownership and responsibility for the environment in which we live, and strives to accomplish lasting change that benefits not only this generation, but generations to come. As a student today, I share this aspiration. In support of Green Chester, the Sustainability Unit at Chester University, I helped to incorporate sustainable policies and procedures into decision-making processes. I was part of initiating the implementation of an environmental management system, in accordance with ISO14001 criteria, which contributed to the achievement of the EcoCampus Bronze and Silver Awards. I also served as a volunteer auditor for the Green Impact scheme, encouraging departments to adopt sustainable practices.

As Vice-Chair of the People, Planet & Amnesty Society, I coordinate and lead environmental awareness campaigns such as the annual People & Planet Go Green Week in order to raise awareness of sustainability issues as well as educate and empower individuals to take simple steps to reduce their environmental impact. I also manage the University’s allotment, Nature’s Garden, which teaches students and staff how to grow fresh, organic fruit and vegetables as well as encourages sustainable living. Finally, I am the principal coordinator of the Veg Out project, a non-profit vegetable bag scheme that sells local, seasonal produce to University students and staff through the Chester Students’ Union. The project supports local suppliers and further encourages students to eat fresh meals with a low carbon footprint through a free recipe-card scheme.

Matt Fowle is a student at the University of Chester.

Photo: BartCo / iStockphoto

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