NUS Wales Live Greener participants from Swansea University present on sustainability at Hay Festival with TYF.
As we move towards the end of our first year of Live Greener, embedding sustainability across Welsh higher education, Swansea University were invited to Hay Festival of literature and the arts to ask: How do you expand sustainability across your work and life?
Sustainable behaviour assistant Jane Nurse began the session by asking the audience how much they thought they already knew about sustainability. The responses were mixed, opening up the space for a collaborative session of sharing perspectives and experience.
Jane probed more deeply by asking: Do you think that education is the single most important tool to create a sustainable society?
Almost everybody thought so. Whether in the formal, scholarly sense, or taken as a broader definition across all ages and contexts, most people agreed that education was a crucial part of sustainability. But it has to go beyond the classroom.
“Is education just sitting in the lecture theatre, or is it doing something? Learning by doing”, Jane wondered.
The session moved on to a more general presentation of the initiatives which Swansea University are using to drive sustainability across their campus, from NUS initiatives like Green Impact, to their own bicycle hire scheme, to ethical purchasing, to staff-led beekeeping.
“Our job is to get our hands dirty and to get people involved”, sustainability manager Dr. Heidi Smith explained. “It’s about forming relationships, and letting people feel part of a community”
“We don’t actually talk about ‘sustainability’ that much. It means 100 different things to people. We try to make different entry points for people”. Based on the huge range of responses to Jane’s original question, this definitely seems to be the most effective approach.
With initiatives like the nature trail inviting people to consider biodiversity on a lunchtime stroll, or the sustainability award connecting students to their university in a practical way, Swansea University brings a huge range of staff and students together to green their institution.
Groups across the room then broke out to discuss their own entry points to sustainability, whether in work, education, or life in general.
Reflecting on the greening work delivered by Swansea University and NUS Wales Live Greener, Hay Festival was the perfect place to explore these crucial questions about sustainability, and how it can become even more integral to education across Wales.
Talk to us about how NUS can help drive sustainability at your institution.