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From blueberries to green noses

03 Apr 2014

Students work towards a sustainable future

Students investigate sustainability

More than 130 first year students from the Faculty of Life Sciences gave up their Wednesday afternoon to participate in a “Sustainable World Event” and consider a range of issues focused on dwindling natural resources and how we can plan better for the future.

As part of the University’s social responsibility strategy, students took part in this pilot event for the ‘Ethical Grand Challenges’ Signature Programme. This sustainability challenge will be the first in a series of three issues all undergraduate students will be confronted with in the future, with social justice and workplace ethics events taking place in the second and third year of studies.

Each student attended two of six interactive workshops on offer, providing them with the opportunity to think about a variety of topics, get hands-on and test out ideas in support of a sustainable future.

Workshops included Currents from Currants (investigating the use of solar energy from fairly common materials), Gamifying Sustainable Choices for students (using eco-games to learn about reducing their carbon footprint) and Climate Relief Green Nose Day (a brainstorming session to consider a green charity initiative modelled on the BBCs Red Nose Day).

At the end of the afternoon students were asked to provide feedback. The feedback will be used to develop a much bigger pilot, which will be aimed at first year students during Welcome Week this autumn.

The students relished the experience. Neli Stefauoua, a Physiology student, said: "I really enjoyed the afternoon, It really made me think about issues of sustainability in new ways.”

Professor Matthew Cobb, the Associate Dean for Social Responsibility in the Faculty of Life Sciences, said: "We have received some very constructive feedback, which we will use to develop the next stage of the pilot progamme. We hope the workshops gave the participants time to think about the future of our planet whilst having fun and getting to know each other."

The aim of the Ethical Grand Challenges signature programme is to equip our graduates to address some of the most profound ethical challenges of the 21st century. By 2017/18 every Manchester undergraduate student will be confronted with a set of major ‘Ethical Grand Challenges’ through the completion of a common programme in each year of their undergraduate study.

Jane Ratchford, Director the Student Development and Community Engagement Division, said: “As future citizens and leaders of tomorrow, we want to support all of our students to exercise important ethical, social and environmental responsibilities. This first pilot will help shape what will become a real distinguishing feature of Manchester’s approach to undergraduate education in the future”.

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