Universities for Sustainability: Challenges and Responsibilities

Next Wednesday, April 3, we hold a new diágolo (im)probable with Zoe Robinson, professor of Sustainability at the University of Keele (United Kingdom) and co-director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, recently created at this university.

 Using a range of sustainability developments at Keele University as a case study, this Diálogo (im)probable seeks to explore the challenges and responsibilities that the universities face in contributing to a more sustainable future.

The case studies will explore different approaches through universities’ educational, research, and external engagement missions as well as the university estate and operations, and the use of ‘Living Labs for Sustainability’ approaches to maximize the positive impacts across all these areas.

Case studies include i) Keele’s smart energy network demonstrator and other major ‘energy transition’ infrastructure projects, and ii) the student-led ‘Sustainable Student House’ project and its public-private tensions.

Keele’s ‘Smart Energy Network Demonstrator‘ will be the biggest in Europe, with clear carbon savings and business engagement targets.

The HyDeploy project, a first-of-kind trial to blend 20% hydrogen into the gas grid, has made breakthroughs in regulatory and technical developments.

The student-initiated Sustainable Student House project, catalysed by a sustainability-focused undergraduate degree programme and a module focused on empowering students to drive change, has given a number of students the opportunity to explore sustainable living.

Looking at the development of these case studies, this talk will explore the breadth of potential of these projects, and assess how ‘success’ is determined, and what can be learnt about addressing the challenges and responsibility of universities in contributing to a more sustainable future.

 Zoe Robinson

Zoe Robinson is a Professor of Sustainability in Higher Education at Keele University, UK.

Zoe also holds the roles of Director of Education for Sustainability at Keele University, and is a co-director of the recently formed Institute for Sustainable Futures, a cross-university interdisciplinary research institute.

Zoe would nowadays class herself as a sustainability scientist, defined by the challenges being tackled rather than by discipline, but has at various times in her career called herself a geologist, hydrogeologist, a physical geographer, and environmental geoscientist.

Zoe’s work has covered a broad range of areas from the effects of glacier retreat on groundwater systems, to climate change outreach, strategies for addressing fuel poverty, community knowledge networks for energy conservation and consumer experiences of low carbon technologies.

Zoe’s specialism is in the area of Education for Sustainability as an educator-researcher-practitioner, and she was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the UK’s Higher Education Academy in 2012 for her leadership and innovation in Education for Sustainability. 

Zoe has led many nationally-recognised and externally-funded teaching innovations including the ‘Living what we’re learning’ Sustainable Student Bungalow project, and the ‘Unmaking Single Perspectives: a Listening Project’, as well as undertaking research across a range of sustainability-focused areas with international collaborators, including integrative environmental footprinting for university campuses, and developing a framework for Campuses as Living Labs for Sustainability.

Zoe has also been a national advisor on Education for Sustainability for the Higher Education Academy, National Union of Students, and Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges in the UK.When: Wednesday, April 3, 14:00 to 15:30

Where: itdUPM Building (See map)