Student Solutions in Sustainability: Spotlight on Engage for Change
Posted on: 1 February 2021
On Wednesday 3rd February, our Engage for Change Programme Manager at Cambridge Hub, Laura Barr, will be speaking at the Universities UK (UUK) conference on the role of Universities in Tackling the Climate Crisis. Her presentation is a case study of our programme, Engage for Change, a programme sponsored by Cambridge Zero and the Sustainability Team at the University of Cambridge. We wanted to share a case study about the programme, as an example of our work in sustainability, and the importance of student engagement in initiatives which focus on addressing the climate crisis at universities.
Engage for Change
Engage for Change began three years ago, designed by Cambridge Hub as an incubation programme, with the aim to equip students with the skills, tools and confidence to lead on environmental change in the University of Cambridge. Students have the opportunity to develop their own intervention, which contributes to the wider University Sustainability Strategy. Cambridge Hub leads the programme, recruiting, training and supporting the students across their 12 week incubation journey into sustainable programme design. The programme provides weekly training sessions, structured problem solving team meetings, and 1:1 support from our staff team. We also hold additional sessions on topics around mental wellbeing in activism or employability skills, and recent feedback has told us that students are feeling well supported. Other training that Cambridge Hub provides during the programme includes ‘Ecological Grief and Resilience’ and ‘Intersectional Environmentalism’.
The projects and interventions that the student cohorts create cover a wide range of topics, including communications and awareness, carbon and energy, food and water waste, and departmental procurement. One student is currently working on how to make their environmental justice committee more intersectional and inclusive, whilst another is currently working on seeking funding for an environmental start up dedicated to sustainable food packaging within deliveries. Last year, one intervention, led by Will Moody, received funding to provide Carbon Literacy training to 100 students over the course of the year. These three examples are only a snapshot of the impact our incredible passionate students have made only recently.
Integral to the programme is encouraging communities of practice, where programme alumni, called the ‘Backrow’, are given opportunities to interact with new cohorts, join in on sessions and discussions, and provide peer support to incoming participants. The community we build is just as important to the programme and to sustainability as the skills being taught alongside them.
Due to the success of Engage for Change, the programme has recently expanded its length and scope, going from six sessions to twelve. Student feedback was key in this decision, as students reflected that a longer programme would provide much more structured support in getting initiatives off the ground and reflecting on next steps.
The programme allows students to make change in their University, and carry on that change beyond their University experience.
In our most recent programme feedback, as a result of taking part in Engage for Change:
- 83% of students felt this programme enhanced their university experience;
- 94% have a better understanding of how they can use their skills to create sustainability-related change;
- 86% of students plan to continue with their intervention after the programme is finished;
- 81% of students reported increased confidence in approaching challenges;
- 81% of students said their ability to work with others to make change improved;
- 81% of students have learnt more about sustainability issues.
Sustainability at Student Hubs
If you’re a student at one of our Hubs, you can get involved in the following programmes:
- If you are a student at the University of Cambridge, you can apply for Engage for Change here;
- If you are a University of Bristol student, you may be interested in Climate Action Bristol (also featured at the UUK Conference) here;
- If you are a University of Southampton student, you may be interested in our food waste programme, BioCycle;
- Any Hub student can get incubation project support from their local Hub, so if you have a sustainability idea, simply get in touch with your Hub team!
If you have any questions about Engage for Change you can contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a university interested in partnering with Student Hubs to run sustainability programmes or other initiatives, please get in touch with our Sales Director, Fiona Walsh at email@example.com to request a Hub Model brochure.