University and Student Win Awards for Work to Educate People on the Climate Emergency

Megan Ashbury
Megan Asbury

The University was named winner of the Innovation for Engagement Award in the national Green Impact Awards, organised by the independent group, Students Organising for Sustainability UK. In addition, student Megan Asbury was named winner of the Student Leadership Award “for being ‘committed to forwarding environmental education’, supporting Green Impact team members, and developing communications to increase public understanding of sustainability”.

The Innovation for Engagement Award recognises ways in which Green Impact teams have engaged more people in sustainability activity, supporting more staff and students to learn about and lead on sustainability.

The University ran a special Climate Emergency Educators Assembly, which took place on World Environment Day 2021, involving school teachers, governors, senior leadership, parents and pupils in leadership or eco-council roles from across the West Midlands.

Representatives from local organisations spoke to participants about ways schools could engage pupils in the climate change issue and what teachers could do to integrate the climate change crisis into the wider curriculum. They also explored teachers’ broader role in raising awareness.

Principle organiser, Elena Lengthorn, Senior Lecturer for Secondary and Post Compulsory Education at the University, said: “We wanted to look at what the role of the University is in preparing students to be educators in our climate emergency. We wanted to understand what participants felt teachers need to know, what should be in the curriculum and what that might look like in training.”

“Some teacher participants were able to take the experiences from the day straight into their school roles and reported an increased knowledge and confidence in addressing our climate and ecological emergency with their pupils and colleagues,” she added.

The Student Leadership Award recognises an exceptional student who has been leading change within and beyond their Green Impact team.

Geography undergraduate student, Megan Asbury, assisted with the Climate Emergency Educators Assembly and went on to co-author a special article reflecting on the project, published in the Discover Sustainability journal.

“Our project is incredibly important in helping get more information about the ongoing climate crisis to a variety of people, from school children to grandparents,” she said. “Winning this award has been a good reminder to me that it is possible to achieve my dreams of having a small impact on the climate crisis.”

Each year Green Impact programmes across the country award Special Awards to individuals and teams who go above and beyond for sustainability. These awards recognise the breadth of positive action happening in the UK through Green Impact, and spotlight some of the initiatives that might not be fully captured by the standard Bronze, Silver and Gold Green Impact awards.

These local Special Award winners have been announced at universities, hospitals, research institutes and charities over the last 12 months, and in December 2021 these local winners were put forward for consideration for the Green Impact National Awards.

Sustainability has been a key commitment of the University for more than a decade. The University won Sustainability Institution of the Year at the 2019 Green Gown Awards and went on to be Globally Highly Commended at the International Green Gown Awards, at the United Nations in New York.