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UNI-ECO Summer School: a week devoted to sustainable development measures in HEIs

From 19th to 22nd July, the UNI-ECO project held its first virtual Summer School, organized by the University of Dublin, Trinity College, with the aim to share the existing best practices within each partner university and to foster action in sustainability.

The sessions were designed around 4 main axes.

 

Tackling Community Change sessions

Three main sessions were organised by Trinity featuring internal academics and external experts to enable participants and partner institutions to plan effective initiatives to tackle community change. Session 1 was devoted to “the psychology of cooperation”, which should be taken into account in the planning of any initiative to tackle change on a community level. Session 2 specifically tackled the issue of “how to reduce consumption” through a general introduction and a presentation of key data and then through group discussions in breakout rooms. Session 3 focused on “how to reimagine green spaces”, introducing new approaches to urban green spaces and nature-based solutions.

 

Best practices sharing sessions

The 5 HEIs partners of the UNI-ECO project presented innovative measures they have adopted to favour sustainable development within their campuses.

Trinity has enhanced its communication and engagement with the university community as part of an overall approach that links student and staff initiatives with central governance. In particular, with regard to sustainability, it has developed sustainability guides for staff, students and residents, a sustainability network of communication, subcommittees to work on sustainability topics, a sustainability fund to finance projects across the university and a voting campaign to engage staff and students in democratic decision making. Utrecht University created the Green Office, where both staff and students are working together to inspire, empower and facilitate the university community to contribute to sustainable development on campus. The University of Montpellier introduced the approach and actions undertaken by its engineering school Polytech Montpellier in the last ten years to enhance sustainability at the university. The University of Barcelona presented its degree in Sustainable Development in Environmental Sciences which works as a Service Learning Project in which students learn about sustainability while carrying out projects related to environmental and/or social sustainability, such as environmental education, recovering green areas in the city, increasing the engagement of young people with ethical finance or tracing the route of the electronic waste of the University. Finally, ELTE and its sustainability partner, ELTE Together for Environmental Consciousness Program, offered an overview about sustainability volunteering, institutional environmental policy work, waste reduction, practical implementation of biodiversity within the university and benefits and context of wider sustainability networking.

 

Green Challenges sessions

Launched in March 2021, the Green Challenges programme aims at getting students and staff concretely involved in sustainable development measures within their campuses by submitting feasible project proposals.

The common themes of the call for projects within Green Challenges were as follows:

  • Practices that will bring the university closer to a Zero Waste goal
  • Reducing the carbon footprint related to transport at the university
  • Actions to support and enhance biodiversity
  • Reducing the environmental footprint of catering at the university

Following a competitive call for ideas, 25 exciting Green Challenge projects were undertaken by teams from across the five partner institutions. 10 of these projects have been selected by partner Institutions to show-case the work underway during the Summer School:

  1. Bouge ta finance (University of Montpellier)
  2. Sustainable Period Products Initiative (Trinity)
  3. Recycling Game: Where do you throw it? (Utrecht University)
  4. Student lab coat resale service (Trinity)
  5. Ressourcerie Etudiante Solidaire (University of Montpellier)
  6. Waste-free Moving Out (ELTE)
  7. Eco-Calc (Trinity)
  8. Environmental impact label in the canteen (Utrecht University)
  9. Planetary Health Diet at UB: towards a more sustainable option (University of Barcelona)
  10. Sokszinu-kollegium/ Colourful Dormitory (ELTE)

On July 22nd it was announced that the winning project of this first round of Green Challenges is … Sustainable Period Products Initiative by Trinity!

 

E-Learning module sessions

Participants to the Summer School also had the occasion to discover and give their feedback on the first two eLearning modules developed by the UNI-ECO project on Consumption and Waste and on Carbon Footprint.

The modules are available here:

 

The next edition of the UNI-ECO Summer School will take place in 2022, organised by Utrecht University. Stay tuned!!

 

Full overview of the Summer School available here 

Green challenges projects available here 

E-learning modules available here 

 

To discover more on the project UNI-ECO visit: https://uni-eco.umontpellier.fr/