New project will link university students with Yorkshire's climate agenda

Mon, 01/30/2023 - 11:17


Yorkshire Universities has been awarded £20,000 funding by the UPP Foundation to pilot a regional sustainability service-learning project, working alongside Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission.

The project will establish a multi-university task and finish group to audit existing work within the 12 universities in the region, scope out a brokerage network between communities and university students to help solve local environmental sustainability challenges, and share the case studies and learning with a wider audience.

This pilot project builds on two unique regional networks for collaboration:

  • Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission brings together actors from the public, private and third sectors to support and guide ambitious climate actions across the region. The Yorkshire and Humber Climate Action Plan, which was co-created by Commissioners, panellists and members of the public, sets out actions for organisations across the region to collectively deliver.

The project activity will help connect students and their work to the bigger picture. The task & finish group will design and issue a ‘Certificate of Achievement and Contribution to the Delivery of the Regional Climate Action Plan’ to students participating in the pilot - recognising their achievements and how their actions support broader impact across the region.

Monika Antal, Assistant Director of Yorkshire Universities said: “We are excited to learn and showcase modes of engagement from across the region and to bring together multi-disciplinary teams of students to enhance their sense of belonging with their communities, as part of this place-based scheme. We see this pilot as a unique opportunity and example of the higher education sector directly supporting regional climate action. It is offering a trailblazing model.”

Rosa Foster, Co-Director of Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, said: “Delivering Yorkshire and Humber’s Climate Action Plan requires dedicated team effort, so we are excited to see this project helping link university students with the regional climate agenda.

“This project will engage students from diverse backgrounds, studying a wide range of subject matters – exactly what is needed to ensure our climate and nature goals are delivered in a fair and inclusive way.”

The project is one of eight pilot initiatives the UPP Foundation has invested over £160,000 in. Funding was awarded to schemes which support student and graduate success for disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, and for initiatives which support universities’ efforts to embed environmental sustainability within their local communities.

The five key stages of the 15-month project (starting January 2023):

1. Audit the ways in which students can or are engaging with the sustainability agenda through service learning across the 12 Yorkshire Universities member institutions.

2. Scope the brokerage network and explore ways in which the following relationships could be joined up in a systemic way:

  • Within institutions and their employer contacts – between departments and faculties to be better informed of each other’s work and to reveal further collaboration opportunities with external partners and enhance relationships with local authorities and the third sector.
  • Across institutions and their employer contacts – among external engagement officers across the region’s universities to share experience and to reveal further opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange and to share enquiries.

3. Pilot challenges

  • Within institutions – by funding £1k challenges for service learning across each of the twelve institutions around a feasible task meeting a community sustainability need. 
  • Across institutions – to trial a £3k multi-university community consultancy team and/or project with students from 3+ institutions: enabling them to meet new people and work together, build new networks and relationships on the sustainability aspect of a local or regional challenge which will be set with the help of the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission.

Those completing either of these pilot challenges will be issued a ‘Certificate of Achievement and Contribution to the Delivery of the Regional Climate Action Plan’ detailing the green skills used and developed to increase awareness of employability skills students can articulate to employers. 

4. Collate an online repository

To be hosted by Yorkshire Universities and aiming to serve two main purposes:

  • Showcasing modes of engagement in sustainability service learning (from step 1) and case studies (from step 3) for an awareness raising campaign, to demonstrate what is possible by working with a diverse range of students and universities.
  • Gathering multi-media reflections or testimonials of individual experience that could help improve an internal service at a university and provide learning for capacity building, thereby helping to co-design future initiatives.