Tuesday 24-03-2015 - 17:18
Our leaders haven’t been leading on sustainability. It’s now time for us – the student movement – to lead instead.
That’s what hundreds of students came together to do this week at our first ever Student Sustainability Summit. Here are five ideas we picked up from the summit on how you can take action on sustainability and social justice on your campus.
1. Get your institution’s money out of fossil fuels
Over 20,000 staff and students across the UK are campaigning for their institutions to pull their money out of fossil fuels. Could your institution be the next to go fossil free?
Our universities and colleges can’t prepare us for the future on one hand, and profit from its destruction on the other. As tar sands activist Crystal Lameman helped us to see during her keynote speech, keeping fossil fuels in the ground is a global fight, but it starts wherever we are.
Start your campaign today with our step by step guide and join our webinar on the subject this Thursday.
2. Mobilise for the UN climate talks this winter
It’s been over 20 years since the first UN climate negotiations in Rio. We’re still dealing with exactly the same problems.
Antoine of CliMates led an optimistic session on how we can build momentum before Paris. Since the disappointment of the collapse of the talks in Copenhagen 2009, climate deniers have been marginalised and education for sustainability has been mainstreamed.
These talks won’t fix everything, even if they go well. But whatever happens, it’s an opportunity to organise and mobilise as a student movement. We can be the leadership we want to see.
3. Grow your own food
Using your campus to grow your own food isn’t just about creating new volunteering opportunities. It can be the start of meaningful engagement with sustainability.
Building resilient communities, providing access to healthy produce, strengthening local economies, enhancing educational and employment opportunities, and protecting food sovereignty. All of this starts with growing food. And it’s a great way of getting students engaged with your union for the first time too.
Student Eats can help you get food right across your campus. You can sign up for it here, or talk to us about it for more inspiration.
4. Challenge your curriculum
Our keynote speaker Sara Parkin stressed how crucial it was for all graduates to be sustainability literate. We couldn’t agree more.
We need all of our courses – from construction to business – to include education for sustainable development. We need our education to provide graduates with the skills, attributes and experience they need to tackle today’s social, economic and environmental challenges.
Maeve of the Post-Crash Economics society detailed how she challenged the course which only taught her economics which led to the crash in the first place. We need to see more of this.
Our programme Responsible Futures can help achieve this at your institution – email us to find out more.
5. Collaborate with other social justice issues
As a movement, we’ve been great at being less bad. We’ve saved energy, cut down on waste, and all the rest of it. But we need to start doing more good, and being more proactive about making a positive impact.
We need to be taking political leadership on sustainability. We want more motions being debated at students’ unions, and if your union doesn’t have a sustainability officer yet – make one!
But sustainability can’t just get put in a little green box. Make sure you’re looking at ways to collaborate with other social justice issues on your campus, as climate change affects the poorest and most oppressed most severely.
It’s all part of one struggle against inequality, and we all need to be the new leaders on sustainability and social justice.