Keele University

Keele University image #1

We asked Pat Bailey, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Environment & Sustainability), at Keele University about their approach to social responsibility and sustainability and how they think LiFE is going to fit in with what they are already doing.

"When the University made the decision in 2008 to really develop their sustainability and environmental agenda, it was the natural sciences, technology and environmental areas that were earmarked for attention.

When we started to look at the range of sustainability-related activity at Keele, we soon found that across the University there was already an impressive level of activity happening. The challenge was that all of the initiatives were stand-alone. What we needed was an integrated strategy.

We decided to develop a new interdisciplinary undergraduate programme that combined the institution’s environmental expertise across a broad range of subjects including politics, business and management and health, with expertise in different branches of environmental science. Next came a postgraduate masters programme that had a technology focus, but which built social and political issues into the sustainability teaching, and included the opportunity to undertake a community research project. In addition, we have developed a sustainability-related elective module available to all undergraduate students. We are working to embed sustainability within all programmes, and are carrying out a series of staff development workshops to support this activity.

As well as improving the link between our teaching, research and community engagement from a sustainability perspective, we also wanted to address a challenge we had with our estate, and the need to have a physical focus for some of our sustainability activities. We decided to use a derelict building within our grounds that required substantial levels of upkeep, and secured development funding from HEFCE to turn this into a project that would embed our sustainability and social responsibility activities across the whole university.

As a result we now have the ‘Sustainability Hub’, a valuable and specialist resource we can use to further support our teaching and research, help us to meet our own challenging carbon management targets, as well as furthering our sustainability education activities in schools and our local community. This new Hub has provided a focus for innovative community engagement activities, including an intergenerational project, Grey Matters, that engages over 100 older people from the community.

We want to be one of the universities that is really doing something to make a difference, and we also want to be seen as such.

One of the handful of universities that achieved the Carbon Trust Standard when it was launched, Keele is recognised as a top performer in carbon reduction. The ‘environment and sustainability steering group’ now see LiFE as a natural extension of the activity that they already undertake and are currently mapping the LiFE framework structure across their own internal strategy themes.

We believe LiFE will become the right standard for sustainability activity in Universities and Colleges in the next few years."

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