Students and staff at the University of Worcester explored key issues around sustainability at a series of virtual events at its annual Go Green Week.
The event, held in partnership with Worcester Students’ Union, was adapted due to Covid-19 restrictions, with numerous online activities for staff, students, and the public, to get involved in.
Director of Sustainability, Katy Boom, said: “This year’s Go Green Week gave us the opportunity to do things differently. The week proved a success, with plenty of engagement, and we found that in some ways being online was advantageous in terms of the people we were able to reach. We are keen for this wealth of knowledge on practical steps people can take to be more sustainable to be available to all and, thanks to the recordings of the talks, this will be possible.”
The week included sessions on sustainable packaging, eating more sustainably, including a live cook-along, health and wellbeing, the environment and reducing waste. It also saw the launch of a new accredited course on carbon literacy training, which will be rolled out further in the future, and a panel debate on sustainability leadership in higher education. The team gave away more than 50 plants, grown from cuttings, to students living on campus, which Ms Boom said was very popular, with students eager to take care of something to help with their wellbeing.
Lucy Robson, a first year Journalism and Media and Culture student and Chair of the Students’ Union Sustainability Network, led a live online wildflower seed bomb making workshop. She said: “It was a fantastic experience. Doing the workshop online was beneficial because now we have a recorded video which we can share with other students throughout the year.
“Learning about sustainability empowers students to make positive changes in their own lives, and in the wider community, that can help tackle real issues like poverty, discrimination, and climate change. Many employers have also put the UN Sustainable Development Goals on their agendas and so students having knowledge of sustainability issues will be beneficial in the workplace and beyond.”
More than 80 people signed up for the virtual debate, chaired by the University’s Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green CBE. External speakers included Lord Victor Adebowale CBE, Chair of Social Enterprise UK and the NHS Confederation, Dr Antonius Raghubansie, Director of Learning Services at the British Council, and Meg Baker, Director of Education for Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS-UK).
They explored issues including the barriers to sustainability change in higher education, how Covid had affected sustainability leadership and how the approach to sustainability in UK universities differed from abroad.
Worcester Students’ Union President, Meg Price, said: “It was a great experience to work with the University on the first ever online Go Green Week! We’ve had some great engagement in online activities as well as having a wide reach on social media. We’re looking forward to taking forward some of the digital elements of this year into Go Green Week 2022.”
Helen Towell, a first year Human Biology & Human Nutrition student, who helped organise the week and was involved in some of the videos, added: “I really enjoyed the chance to be creative and challenge my own values around sustainability. I think there is a real desire for people wanting to make ethical choices now and events like this are a perfect way to keep that conversation going.”
The University plans to hold the annual Go Green Week for the City in the coming months, looking ahead to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).