What happened at SusSEd 2015…

SusSEd is our very own sustainability lecture and workshop series for staff and students here in Sheffield. In 2015, it ran for its second year as an eight event series, involving participants from across the University.

The Sustainability Skills and Education programme aims to break the subject of sustainability down into manageable chunks, allowing staff and students to find out about environmental issues.

SusSEd opens up current academic research and what is happening in departments and professional services at the University, allowing attendees an insight into a huge range of environmental topics.

Sussed poster

This year’s programme covered a broad range of topics, opening with a session delivered by the University’s Environment Officer on our waste strategy and our efforts to boost recycling at source as we move to the co-mingled recycling system.

We continued the themes of waste and individual action with a session on Food Waste and the Love Food Hate Waste Campaign. This session opened with some shocking statistics about food waste in the UK; 5.8 million potatoes and 1.4 million bananas are thrown away every single day and our yearly food waste equates to 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Dr Sonal Choudhary, a lecturer in Sustainable Management here in Sheffield and a Climate Leader, as part of the Climate Reality Project led by Al Gore, delivered ‘Evolving Concepts of Sustainability’. The session took us through definitions of sustainability and how these have changed over time before putting a focus upon environmental, social and economic perspectives.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Pure Science Professor Tony Ryan gave a great talk introducing the work of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures and Project Sunshine. The session focused upon how we can feed and fuel a world of 10 billion people, taking us through our history to our reliance upon fossil fuels. A detailed, scientific exploration of types of fuels and the energy in different objects from bullets to butter, brought the conclusion that our focus should be upon solar power.

Our next session took a different perspective, concentrating on a specific barrier to sustainability; disgust or the ‘Yuck Factor’. Research Associate Philip Powell is interested in emotion and its effect upon our behaviour. This session looked at how disgust could be a barrier to sustainable living; would you eat insects or drink recycled water?

We then brought the focus back to the University, looking at our Energy Strategy and a focus upon our Carbon Management Plan. This session went through our different energy sources at the University and what we are doing to cut carbon emissions at a time of expansion. With a target to cut our emissions by 43% by 2020, we had a look at how Sheffield is trying to meet these targets via the new three-pronged Energy Strategy which focuses on self-generation, energy saving in buildings and behaviour change. We also found out that our energy usage at the University costs 36 pence every second!

Nutgreen delivered an interactive session for our seventh meeting; a creative workshop which had everyone on their feet. The participatory workshop allowed everyone to discover the skills they have to help advance environmental issues and how we could utilise these when thinking about how we position ourselves in relation to sustainability. Do we think about me or we? Are we reflective or active?

Our final session was delivered Professor Lenny Koh from the Management School, director of the Centre for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, director of the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre and director of Logistics and Supply Chain Management Research Centre. This session looked at whether we could live with infinite resources from finite resources and explored different hypotheses and scenarios in which we may be able to achieve this.

Interest in the programme proved high with between 35 and 60 attendees at each session. Attendance was from a mixture of staff and students, from a huge range of courses and both Green Impact participants and those not involved in the programme. Many students and staff are keen to learn about sustainability and environmental issues but often don’t get the opportunity to do so at University – we hope SusSEd can go some way in doing this!

The programme received positive feedback from those who attended and we hope to make it bigger and better next year!

If you would like access to any PowerPoint slides from the sessions, contact Green Impact

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