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Living Sustainability in Higher Education: Connecting People, Places and Learning

13 May 2022, 9:00 am–5:30 pm

Single tree branch pointing like a finger

This conference is an opportunity for us to take stock of where we are, think about where we are headed and engage others in our research on sustainability in education.

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Organiser

UCL Laws Events

About the project

The genesis of Living Sustainability lay in our desire to provide students an opportunity to explore UCL’s campus at a time when COVID meant that remote learning would be the norm, but to also ground this exploration in sustainability. Our idea of a ‘Sustainability Tour, which bases case studies within different parts of UCL’s estate, has now evolved into a more comprehensive examination of what sustainability means in a higher education (HE) context and how it might be pursued in a more meaningful manner.

Sustainability is a nebulous concept and one which overlaps, but should not be conflated with, sustainable development. Sustainable development is itself contested, with the broad consensus behind the Brundtland and three-pillar interpretations of this term often breaking down when confronted with the trade-offs that are inevitably made when devising and implementing policy. The latest manifestation of a global understanding of sustainable development is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These reflect, on one hand, the necessary ambition to address global problems but, on the other, the fundamental flaws of sustainable development, namely its overt anthropocentrism and the apparent lack of commitment on the part of states to deliver change.

How we respond to this in our research is twofold. First, we are investigating how the SDGs are being implemented within the HE sector using a nexus framework. While we recognise that UK universities enjoy certain advantages not shared by institutions in, for example, the Global South, there are nevertheless common challenges that impact all universities’ capacity to implement the SDGs, including expanding student populations, uncertain economic and political climates, and the growing social imperative to confront controversial issues in a university’s past. Exploring these within HE in the UK offers opportunities to share experience and learning with other HE partners, as well as stakeholders in related sectors.
Second, we are advancing the already significant scholarship on sustainability education – the idea that education should equip students with the skills necessary for them to aid society in its transition to a more sustainable future. This involves interrogating what is meant, and should be meant, by the term ‘sustainability’, and also considering how the HE sector’s relative success in progressing sustainability in estate management can be replicated in wider governance practices, curricula and, crucially, the student experience.
Ultimately, we hope to establish a blueprint for sustainability action that fosters connections between individuals and the geographical and epistemological communities centred on universities, while also delivering on HE’s potential to inspire radical societal change.

Rob Amos, Priscila Carvalho, Silvia Cesa-Bianchi and Jane Holder

About the conference

This conference is an opportunity for us to take stock of where we are, think about where we are headed and engage others in our research. We have planned this conference to be as much about knowledge generation as it is presentation and have, we hope, maximised opportunities for you to share your insights and ideas on how sustainability is and should be achieved within the HE sector.

To complement the open-discussions during the panel sessions, we will be building a Living Wall of sustainability education as the day progresses. We hope that you will add to this your own thoughts and reflections. Your contributions will help us to develop a student-led Environmental Action Plan, as well as draw conclusions from the conference that will inform roundtables we intend to run next year. Through these, we will reach out to stakeholders in other sectors and regions so that we can progress sustainability education beyond the physical and intellectual bounds of “the university”.

Further Reading on this area
  • Rob Amos and Priscila Carvalho, ‘Locating a Course on Environmental Justice in Theories of Environmental Education and Global Citizenship’ (2020) 14 Journal of Education for Sustainable Development 140
  • Joseph Friedman and others, ‘Measuring and Forecasting Progress Towards the Education-Related SDG Targets’ (2020) 580 Nature 636
  • Jane Holder, ‘Identifying Points of Contact and Engagement Between Legal and Environmental Education’ (2013) 40 Journal of Law and Society 541
  • Rachel Howell, ‘Engaging Students in Education for Sustainable Development: The Benefits of Active Learning, Reflective Practices and Flipped Classroom Pedagogies’ (2021) 325 Journal of Cleaner Production 129318
  • Jiangui Liu and others, ‘Nexus Approaches to Global Sustainable Development’ (2018) 1 Nature Sustainability 466
  • Lena Perovic and Maja Kosor, ‘The Efficiency of Universities in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals’ (2020) 22 Amfiteatru Economic 516
  • Michael M’Gonigle and Justine Starke, Planet U: Sustaining the World, Reinventing the University (Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers, 2006)
  • David Orr, Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment and the Human Prospect (Washington: Island Press, 2004)
  • Stephen Stirling, Sustainable Education: Re-visioning Learning and Change (Cambridge: Green Books, 2001)
  • Arran Stibbe (ed), The Handbook of Sustainability Literacy: Skills for a Changing World (Cambridge: Green Books, 2009)
The Conference Programme
TimeDetails
08:30Registration
09:00Opening Remarks:
Dr Rob Amos
09:15Session 1: Sustainability Innovations in Teaching and Research

Chaired by: Dr Clare Bentall

  • Dr Nicole Blum – Higher Education’s Contribution to the SDGs
  • Dr Priscila Carvalho – Taking Critically Linked SDGs by the Nexus
  • Dr Tim Beasley-Murray – More than a Mantra: Sustainability as Intellectual, Personal and Institutional Challenge in the UCL Introductory Programme
10:30Break
10:45Break Out Sessions
 

Parallel Session A: Decolonising Higher Education
Chaired by: Silvia Cesa-Bianchi

  • Dr Matthew Doyle – Sustainability and Decolonisation within Bolivia’s Indigenous Productive Communitarian Universities
  • Dr Alice Stevenson – Museums’ Role and Responsibilities in Representing World Cultures
  • Yara Shennan-Farpon – A More Diverse, Inclusive and Global Future for Conservation Science: Perspectives from Early Career Researchers
 

Parallel Session B: Food
Chaired by: Daniel Harris

  • Dr Carole Dalin – The Environmental Sustainability of Global Food Production and Trade
  • Dr Rebecca Wells – The Best of Both Worlds? Using Hybrid Teaching and Learning to Widen Participation in Sustainable Food Systems Education Programmes
  • Dr Pau Obrador Pons – A Freegan Pop-up Café: Embedding Critical Hospitalities into the Curriculum
 

Parallel Session C: Challengingn Anthropocentrism
Chaired by: Dr Rob Amos

  • Prof. Duncan French – Greenwashing, Anthropocentricity in the SDGs, and Navigating Senior Leadership Dynamics
  • Dr Helen Dancer – Reimagining Legal Decision-Making: The UK Earth Law Judgments Project
  • Dr Helen Kopnina – What is Wrong with Sustainable Development and SDGs (in Education) and What Can Be Done Better?
12:00Lunch
13:00Break out sessions - Student Perspectives
 

Parallel Session D: Making Connections
Chaired by Dr Rob Amos

  • Anna Childs – An Integrative Review and Cross-Case Analysis of the Experiential Literature on South-North Transformational Partnerships for Higher Education Since 2000
  • Claire Ramjan and Zoe Russell – Community Learning and HE Partnerships in the North-West Highlands of Scotland: A Comparative Study Analysis
  • Anna-Theresia Krein and Daniel Lowe – Advancing UN SDGs in Legal Education through Partnered International Excursions
 

Parallel Session E: Reflections on Academic Practice
Chaired by Prof. Jane Holder

  • Dr Emily Webster – Teaching Environmental Law in a Multidisciplinary Department
  • Silvia Cesa-Bianchi – Make Yourself at Home: Supporting Academics by Adapting Quickly to Interdisciplinary Research
  • Bo Yang – Experiencing Sojourns as Sustainability: Re-theorising the Relationship Between International Students and Internationalisation of Higher Education
 

Parallel Session F: Responding to Global Challenges
Chaired by Dr Priscilla Carvalho

  • Etisang Abraham – Promoting Sustainability Education Beyond Borders: Sustainability through the Lenses of Educational Institutions in Developing Countries
  • Gideon Commey – Mapping Land-use Policies that Support Urban Food Growing Spaces and Connections to Food Justice
  • Masrur Salekin – An Empirical Study on Environmental Education for Judges in Promoting SDGs
14:15Break
14:30Break out Sessions
 

Parallel Session G: Green Spaces
Chair TBC

  • David Jackson – The Future of Ecosystem Services on a University Landscape
  • Allen Abramson – What Colour is Artifice? Green Space, Outdoor Training Courses and Climbing Walls
  • Dr Adesh Sundaresan – [UCLMS Climate, Health and Sustainability UG module]
 

Parallel Session H: Urban Sustanabilities
Chaired by Dr Robert Cowley

  • Prof Elen Stokes – Future Matters Collective
  • Emily Kearsey – ClientEarth (No. 1, 2 and 3): What Has It All Meant for Communities?
  • Zelda Offermann and Amélie Clark – “Farming” a Passion for Sustainability: UCL’s Student-Led Farm in Urban London
 

Parallel Session I: Empowering Students
Chaired by John Dubber

  • Melanie Kee – How Students Can Drive Change
  • Johara Meyer – Getting Student Voices Heard
  • Ben Crawford – The Role of Workers’ and Students’ Organisations in Building a Sustainable University Model
16:00

Session 3: Universities as Community Assets
Chaired by Dr Diana Pritchard

  • Student Research: The Perfect Community Asset?
  • Dr Eszter Tarsoly – Language Studies as Transcultural Becoming and Participation: Community-based Approaches to Learning about Global Citizenship
  • Jennifer Akinola – Connecting Students with the Community through Pro Bono
17:15Closing Reflections:
Prof. Jane Holder
17:30Conference closes

 

Speaker Profiles

Conference organisers

Prof Jane Holder has taught and researched environmental law for thirty years – environmental assessment, environmental justice, commons, legal environmental activism and legal education. She has developed interdisciplinary courses, such as LLM Land-Use, Sustainability and Environmental Justice and LLB Animal Justice as well as having introduced and strengthened environmental learning in other subject areas. Jane is chair of UCL’s Working Group on Education for Sustainable Development.

Dr Rob Amos joins Greenwich University as a Lecturer in Law in May 2022, having previously been an Assistant Professor in Environmental Law at Nottingham University and Associate Researcher at UCL. He has extensive practical experience in innovative curriculum design and delivery through his work on environmental legal education, as well as his prior involvement in UCL’s Global Citizenship Programme. Rob’s work seeks to interrogate the relationships between nature and humanity, challenging unsustainable and anthropocentric status quos that drive the climate and ecological emergency. Current projects include a monograph on agroecology (Routledge) and he is editor, with Michael Bowman and Edward Goodwin, of the new edition of The Research Handbook on Biodiversity and Law (Edward Elgar).

Sustainability Innovations in Teaching and Research

Dr Nicole Blum is a Senior Lecturer and an Associate Director of the IoE’s Development Education Research Centre. Her PhD research (Anthropology, Sussex University) explored diverse forms of engagement with environmental learning and sustainable development in a rural mountain community in Costa Rica. Her research interests also include pedagogy and approaches to global learning, global citizenship education, education for sustainable development, climate change and education, online learning, internationalisation and global perspectives in higher education and the ethnography of education. She has worked and conducted research in Costa Rica, Guatemala, India, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Dr Priscila Carvalho is a Research Fellow in Environmental Law and Sustainability at the Island Laboratory of UCL’s Energy Institute. After finishing her LLM at UCL in 2013, she pursued an interdisciplinary PhD at the Energy Institute on the water-energy nexus in Brazil, with a focus on justice, regulation, and co-governance of resources. Priscila’s research interests lie in environmental law, environmental justice, resource nexus and environmental education. Throughout her PhD, Priscila worked on UCL’s Global Citizenship Programme as academic manager on the environmental strand.

Dr Tim Beasley-Murray is an Associate Professor of European Thought with UCL’s BASc Programme. He is also Academic Director of the UCL Introductory Programme, Director of the PhD Programme in Creative Critical Writing and Academic Director of the new Creative Humanities BA that will launch in 2023. Tim’s research operates on the borders of literature, philosophy and political theory and deals with European culture broadly, especially French, German, Russian, and Czech and Slovak. Tim has a wide range of research interests (masks, evil, silence, for example) and is currently finishing a book on risk, narcissism and literary games that get out of hand.

Dr Clare Bentall has over 25 years’ experience of teaching and training other educators, including in HE in the UK and overseas. She is interested in training or educating others to facilitate learning in various settings: overseas in developing countries, within the development education and global learning sector, and within higher and professional education. As Associate Director of the IoE’s Development Education Research Centre, Clare has an interest in UCL’s approaches to sustainability and the SDGs. She has served as a member of UCL’s Sustainability Steering Group and Sustainability Literacy Group, aiming to increase the focus on sustainability in UCL’s teaching offer.

Food

Dr Carole Dalin is an Associate Professor in Sustainable Food Systems in UCL’s Institute of Sustainable Resources, having joined the Institute as a NERC Independent Research Fellow in 2016. From 2014-2016, Carole was a Research Officer at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE. There, she worked on the Southern Africa’s Hydro-Economy and Water Security project with Declan Conway, concentrating on the water-food-energy nexus of Southern Africa, and on the socioeconomic implications of climate forecasts, regarding natural resources management in particular. In 2022, her 5-year ERC Starting Grant funded project, Sustainable and Healthy Food Solutions: System Dynamics and Trade-offs, will be launched.

Dr Rebecca Wells is a Lecturer in Food Policy in City University’s Centre for Food Policy and the Programme Director for the Centre’s MSc in Food Policy. Her research focusses on the interactions between food policy and the media, and developing food policy for a healthier, more sustainable and equitable food system. Rebecca’s research interests include food policy, food in the media, food systems, food poverty, food banks, food security and science communication. She has a particular interest in food systems teaching and learning and has an MA in Academic Practice. She is the co-lead for the Centre for Food Policy on the recently launched UKRI-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Food Systems, led by the University of Greenwich.

Dr Pau Obrador Pons is a Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Events Management at the Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University. Prior to joining Northumbria, he held lectureships in human geography at Exeter University and in tourism at Sunderland University. Pau’s research interests lie at the intersection of tourism, place, culture, body and management. Underpinning his work is a post-disciplinary concern for the centrality of tourism and events within contemporary societies, as well as the significance of humanities and social sciences concepts and skills for tourism policy and management. Pau has research and published on a variety of issues, including tourism theory, family tourism, embodiment, the beach, coastal and mass tourism, tourism policy, transformative festivals, critical pedagogies and research-rich learning.

Daniel Harris is an interdisciplinary researcher and policymaker, with experience in law, political philosophy, and medical ethics and regulation. He is also the founder of social enterprise Nourish Our World – using edible gardens to engage young people about food security and climate change, inspiring them to take action and become global citizens. Dan currently manages a diverse work programme on live issues in medical ethics for the General Medical Council.

Decolonising Higher Education

Dr Matthew Doyle is an Associate Lecturer in Social Anthropology in UCL’s Department of Anthropology. He is a social anthropologist who studies processes of decolonisation, state reform and indigenous politics and Latin America. Matthew’s PhD fieldwork was carried out in Bolivia and investigated the effects of government reforms, which aim to devolve political and juridical power to indigenous groups, on the local governmental institutions of a rural Quechua-speaking indigenous community. Matthew’s main theoretical interests are political anthropology and the social scientific study of morality. He has also written on higher education reform and legal pluralism in Latin America.

Dr Alice Stevenson is an Associate Professor of Museum Studies with UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. She has previously held positions as Curator of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Researcher in World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum and Research Fellow in the Institute of Archaeology and Department of Information Studies. Alice’s current major project is as PI of the AHRC-funded Egypt’s Dispersed Heritage project, a programme of dissemination, cultural events, artistic responses and museum exhibitions in Egypt and the UK, co-developed with community partners. Her research interests include museums and source communities and museum ethics.

Dr Yara Shennan-Farpon is a conservation scientist based at UCL. She recently completed her PhD at UCL’s Anthropology Department and the ZSL Institute of Zoology (IoZ), which focussed on landscape restoration policies of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest and the inclusion of smallholder farmers and agroforestry. Yara is interested in interdisciplinary approaches to conservation problems, specifically the interaction of food production and sovereignty, smallholders and biodiversity conservation. During her PhD, she teamed up with early career researchers based at the IoZ. Their “informal lab group” was born as a place to share tips and resources and discuss the challenges of conducting interdisciplinary research, as well as including and respecting human rights and wellbeing in conservation work.

Challenging Anthropocentrism

Prof Duncan French is the Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Social Science at Lincoln University. He is a leading academic on international environmental law and the international legal implications of sustainable development. As a key figure in the global debate on sustainable development, Duncan has been co-rapporteur of the International Law Association (ILA) Committee on the International Law on Sustainable Development for 10 years (2002-2012). He was also Chairman of the ILA Study Group on International Law and Due Diligence (2012-2016).

Dr Helen Dancer is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex. She is an interdisciplinary scholar working in the fields of law and anthropology on issues related to human-earth relationships, particularly in East Africa and the UK. Current and past research projects range from an ethnographic study of women’s land rights and access to justice in Tanzania, to an exploration of human-forest relations and law in ancient English forests, to the UK Earth Law Judgments Project, which seeks to further critical debates around law and ecology by reimagining legal judgments from eco-conscious perspectives

Dr Helen Kopnina is currently employed at both Northumbria University in the UK and The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, coordinating a Sustainable Business programme and conducting research within the interrelated areas of environmental sustainability, environmental education, biological conservation and animal ethics. Helen is the author of over 200 articles and (co)author and (co)editor of 17 books.

Making Connections

Anna Childs’ early career and research focussed on enablers and barriers to technology-supported learning. From 2013-17, Anna was Academic Director of the International Development Office at the Open University, with strategic responsibility for the development and delivery of the EY system-strengthening partnerships with universities in the Global South. This led to her ongoing PhD at Nottingham University exploring the decolonisation of HE partnerships for development, with co-supervision at Kathmandu University. Anna is currently working directly with the Ministry of Education in Nepal on e-learning for teachers and teacher trainers, and development of e-Learning Accessibility Standards for Nepal. She is also producing a paper on technology-supported HE in Africa for UNESCO’s 2023 GEM Report.

Claire Ramjan is a former biology and geography teacher, and currently in the final stages of her PhD at Stirling University. She is passionate about outdoor learning and her PhD looks at the opportunities that citizen science experiences can offer within formal schooling to develop and enhance environmental citizenship in young people. Claire’s research uses situational analysis to explore the interactions between young people and their outdoor experiences. Claire is also a lecturer in Initial Teacher Education at the University of West Scotland, where she works with pre-service science teachers to develop their skills.

Zoe Russell is a PhD candidate completing an interdisciplinary studentship based in the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Stirling. Her PhD focusses on communities, heritage and sustainability within the international UNESCO biosphere reserve model, through an ethnographic study of a reserve in the Scottish Highlands. Previously, Zoe gained a first class Honours degree in Criminology and Politics from Stirling  a Masters of Science with Distinction in Global Environment, Politics and Society from Edinburgh University, and a Masters of Research in Applied Social Science.

Anna-Theresia Krein holds an MA in International Relations from Warwick University (2006). She is currently a PhD student at the same institution, this time at the Faculty of Law. Anna-Theresia also holds a permanent position as Assistant of the Dean at Brunswick European Law School (BELS), Germany. She has lectured on several topics in the past, and created a new optional selectional module at BELS: Model United Nations. Her research interests include the UN, the SDGs, legal education and values-based teaching(s).

Dr Daniel Lowe is a Teaching Fellow at Warwick University, where he leads the Comparative Human Rights modules. His research interests are situated upon emergent issues of international law and legal theory, particularly in relation to the purported justifiability of various controversial concepts, such as the legality of the use of force in the context of humanitarian interventions taken without UN Security Council approval, as well as the apparent non-absoluteness of human rights in times of emergency.

Reflecting on Academic Practice

Dr Emily Webster is an Asst. Professor in Environmental and Climate Law at the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, and an Official Fellow at Queens’ College. She is a Fellow of C-EENRG, a member of the Hughes Hall Centre for Climate Engagement, the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law and a Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance network. Emily’s research focusses on the domestic, EU and transnational regulation of activity that contributes toward the disruption of the Earth system.

Silvia Cesa-Bianchi is a research assistant at UCL Laws and Nottingham University’s Law School. She recently graduated with an LLM in Environmental Law and Policy from UCL, after receiving her undergraduate degree in Comparative European and International Legal Studies from the University of Trento, Italy. Her current projects include her work for the UK-based environmental organisation Lawyers for Nature, and her upcoming participation in the SCOTLIN Early Career Scholars Symposium in Edinburg, with a research project on green gentrification.

Bo Yang is a PhD student in Anthropology at UCL. His academic interests include ethnobotany, multispecies ethnography, the Anthropocene, local adaptation to climate change and anthropology of sustainability and development, with a specific focus on the Tibet region. Bo has received degrees of MRes Social Anthropology from SOAS, an MA in Social Anthropology from Manchester University and a BA in Sociology from the Inner Mongolia University, China. He is also enthusiastic about social and education activities. For instance, over eight years he has conducted and participated in numerous volunteer education support projects, through NGOs, in impoverished areas of China.

Responding to Global Challenges

Etisang Abraham is a PhD candidate at Stirling University’s Law School. His research focusses on renewable energy and environmental law and the role of law in attaining energy justice and a just transition in energy regulation. He holds an LLM in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development (Distinction) from the University of the West of England. He has been called to the Nigerian Bar, with a decade of legal practice experience in handling oil and gas cases, dealing with host communities, admiralty agreements and other aspects of civil litigation. Etisang also volunteers with The Conservation Volunteers.

Gideon Commey is a doctoral researcher in food systems at the UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training. He is interested in investigating how agricultural production systems impact the natural environment and biodiversity, and how this complex relationship influences and shapes food trade policy. Gideon is a Ghanian environmental activist who founded the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, a youth-led national organisation in Ghana focussed on environmental advocacy and campaigns. His work in the last 15 years has concerned empowering young people for environment and climate action. Gideon previously worked as the Global Education and Youth Engagement Officer for WWF-UK.

Masrur Salekin is currently pursuing a PhD the National University of Ireland Galway’s (NUIG) School of Law as a Hardiman Research Scholar. The title of his thesis is ‘Ensuring Environmental Justice through Judicial Activism’. Masrur completed his LLM in International Law and Development at Nottingham University as a Chevening Scholar in 2020. He is currently working as an Additional District and Sessions Judge in the Bangladesh judiciary and has recently been appointed as the Research Supervisor for Law, Innovation and Professional Skills Module NUIG’s Law School.

Green Spaces

David Jackson has been a Sustainability Projects Officer at Greenwich University since 2019. He is responsible for the Environmental Management Systems, in addition to supporting the Head of Sustainability and leading on projects around ecosystem services, waste and recycling, engagement and wellbeing. David’s career started with four years at the Bat Conservation Trust, before moving into the wider world of sustainability in leading delivery at an acute NHS trust.

Dr Allen Abramson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at UCL. His research has explored mythical and ritual framings of land and the envelopment of these registers by regimes of property. More recently, he has come to focus upon mountainous form in religious symbolism, mountain epic and artificial climbing walls. This interest in edgework (voluntary non-ordinary risk-taking) undertaken in artificial landscapes included a short study on the ‘world’ of outdoor training courses, including an outdoor course offered to graduates at UCL.

Dr Adesh Sundaresan graduated from UCL Medical School in 2019. After further study with Yale University on Climate & Health, he has been running an SSC on Climate, Health and Sustainability for first-year medical students. For his work, Adesh was awarded the joint UCL 2021 Sustainability Education Award. He is currently working on the climate education programme Genie (conceptualised by Prof. Hugh Montgomery) to empower the next generation to tackle climate change

Urban Sustainabilities

Prof Elen Stokes is based at Cardiff University. Her primary areas of expertise are in environmental law and policy, with particular points of focus on the regulation of new technologies and the relationship between law and the future. Elen is a founder member of the Future Matters Collective, an interdisciplinary network of academics and arts-practitioners established to investigate society’s relationship to the future and enable creative future-making in contexts of energy and environment, urban regeneration and health and wellbeing. She is also an active member of the Environmental Justice Research Unit, a collaborative initiative between law and politics researchers at Cardiff University.

Emily Kearsey graduated from Manchester University with a 1st class law degree in 2012. After graduating, Emily worked for a year as a publishing assistant at Oxford University Press. She then spent five years working at Goodman Derrick LLP, completing her training contract and then practising employment law as a solicitor. Emily left this role to retrain in environmental law, which led her to study the LLM in Environmental Law and Policy at UCL, 2020-21. She joined ClientEarth in December 2021 as a legal and Policy Researcher, working on the UK Clean Air Programme.

Zelda Offermann is a 3rd year law student at UCL, who has been involved in the Urban Farmers Society for the majority of her time as an undergraduate. As a committee member, she has facilitated events with urban farmers in London, as well as expanded the farm’s presence and outreach within the UCL student community. Zelda is passionate about sustainable food growth and facilitating access to a space for students to connect with nature in urban settings.

Amélie Clark is a French and American 3rd year Arts and Sciences student at UCL. She discovered Bentham’s Farm in her first year and co-founded the Urban Farmers Society to further (re)develop the initiative. During her time as president, Amélie organised events with the Nature Conservation Society and London Urban Farmers. She believes in the benefits of the trial-and-error process of gardening and is passionate about the space’s potential to connect people to themselves, others and nature.

Dr Robert Cowley joined KCL’s Department of Geography in 2015. His research focusses on the proliferation of ‘eco’ and ‘smart’ urban initiatives and policies around the world. In particular, he is interested in the way that these ideas travel and are translated into varying practices in different settings, the conceptual and practical tensions between the ‘eco’ and the ‘smart’, and the significance of these experimental approaches to urban development for traditional modes of planning.

Empowering Students

Melanie Kee joined Students Organising for Sustainability UK in March 2020. She works on the Invest for Change campaign, calling for university money to be invested in the interests of students, not against them, centring on environmental and social justice solutions. Melanie studied Geography at Sheffield University and was elected as their SU’s Development Officer, leading on sustainability, as well as commercial and financial activity, across the university. At Sheffield, Melanie successfully campaigned to embed Education for Sustainable Development into the curriculum and worked with university leaders to ensure the commitment to divesting from fossil fuels was fulfilled.

Johara Meyer is in the final year of her undergraduate degree in Geography and Social Data Analysis at UCL. As Sustainability Officer for the Students’ Union (SU), she works to ensure that students’ voices on sustainability are heard across UCL and SU management, and that student-led projects and activism have visibility. One initiative that Johara is passionate about is the Sustainability Council, which brings students together with UCL decision-makers to provide input and feedback on the sustainability of their projects. She is working to create more outlets for students to have a say in UCL’s sustainability vision and have a positive impact on people and planet

Ben Crawford is a PhD candidate in sociology at Liverpool University, conducting an ESRC CASE scholarship in partnership with the Institute of Employment Rights. His thesis concerns the ways in which core structures of corporate law affect the realisation of labour rights. Ben is also a Green Rep at Liverpool UCU and has been involved in the development of a ‘Green New Deal bargaining’ claim, which aims to drive action on sustainability and climate justice through the collective bargaining process.

John Dubber is Chief Executive of Students’ Union UCL (SU). The SU represents, and provides a wide range of services for, the 48,000 students at UCL. Under John’s leadership, the SU has developed a comprehensive Sustainability Strategy with the aim of becoming the most sustainable students’ union in the UK. Previously, John was Head of Policy & External Relations for the British Council, leading government and parliamentary relations, and developing the organisation’s policy research programme and its flagship global programme for aspiring young leaders. John has degrees from Birmingham University and Warwick University, where he was also the President of the Students’ Union and won the University’s Prize for World Politics.

Universities as Community Assets

Anne Laybourne leads the Community Research Initiative for Students at UCL. This service, funded by the Office of Vice Provost Education & Student Experience and delivered by the Students’ Union UCL’s Volunteering Service, supports Masters students and voluntary sector or statutory organisations to meet, share, and co-develop research projects. It therefore serves several functions: provision of an authentic dissertation experience for students; capacity building for the community; and a route to power-sharing between UCL and its neighbours.

Dr Eszter Tarsoly is an Asst. Professor (Teaching) in Hungarian and Applied Linguistics at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. She specialises in critical sociolinguistic approaches to language and diversity, minority and endangered languages, and contact-based and translanguaging approaches to understanding multilingual contexts. Her recent project focussed on bilingual education involving Romani in monolingual ideological discourse settings in Central Europe. Eszter was academic lead of a UCL Global Citizenship Summer School on cultural understanding. She received a UCL Education Award in 2018 for her use of creative inquiry and ethnography in teaching languages and global citizenship.

Jennifer Akinola is the Clinic Coordinator at the UCL Centre for Access to Justice, Faculty of Laws. She holds an LLB from Warwick University and is a Fellow of Advanced Higher Education. Jennifer is based at the UCL Integrated Legal Advice Clinic in Stratford, which offers pro bono and legal aid services to the local community. She leads the extra-curricular volunteering programme at the clinic and assists with the day-to-day running. Jennifer has trained and supervised many student volunteers at the clinic, who help to provide a valuable and much-needed service to the local community.

Dr Diana Pritchard is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is a socio-ecologist with an interdisciplinary background, and currently leads at Bedfordshire University in education for sustainability, and equality and inclusivity. The innovative and trans-disciplinary practices she has developed as a practitioner involve multiple social actors and are sector-recognised. Diana previously worked in universities in the USA, Central America and Spain, was was regional director for an international biodiversity conservation organisation, Fauna and Flora, in Mesoamerica. Currently, she is completing research on higher education practices which develop 21st century learning as part of the five-year evaluation she also conducts of the Stategic Partnerships for Innovation and Reform Initiative, funded by the UK Government’s FCDO.

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