The very best of UEA’s sustainable initiatives were highlighted and rewarded at the first SustainableUEA Awards on Wednesday 26 May.
The awards highlighted the breadth of sustainable projects being undertaken by the UEA community and celebrated the work of staff and students in making UEA and local, regional and international communities a more sustainable place for current and future generations.
The virtual ceremony was compered by Katherine Middleton, Environmental Management System Manager, with the awards presented by Prof Dylan Edwards, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and Chair of the UEA Sustainability Board. Submissions could be for projects from either the 2019/20 or 2020/21 academic years.
The awards used the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a framework to evaluate the impact of submission projects, with the ceremony attended by UEA staff, students and guests, including Norwich Research Park partners and awards judges from the private, public and civil society sectors.
The ceremony began with a keynote address from Dylan, before going to the main event, announcing the finalists of all five categories before revealing the winners live. The winners spanned both students and staff, with the five winners automatically shortlisted for the Special Recognition Award, for the most outstanding contribution over the last two academic years, and the winner of that award was also revealed at the ceremony.
Recognising a UEA staff member who has worked hard at implementing a sustainability project or initiative, including the hidden heroes who faithfully work in the background to advance the cause of sustainability at UEA.
Sarah Eglington (Professional Internship Programme Coordinator in the PGR office)
Project: A Green Hero
Sarah initiated and led Norwich Bioscience Institutes Graduate School’s Green Impact team, rising from Bronze to Silver in just one year. Sarah has set up recycling hubs, provided Green Impact staff inductions and delivered workshops for postgraduate research students. Sarah is also active outside of work as a Project Manager for Norwich FoodHub – collecting and redistributing surplus food to those in need.
The judging panel felt that Sarah exhibited huge initiative and enthusiasm with great staying power, communicating with several departments on different issues as well as with the outside community. Sarah goes above and beyond any work duties and has set up a charity for the benefits of the scheme. A true inspiration and a true champion.
Recognising a UEA student with excellent leadership skills, who has encouraged, empowered and inspired others to take action towards a more sustainable future.
Sophie Ciurlik Rittenbaum (PPL student)
Project: Divest Barclays
Sophie Ciurlik Rittenbaum has spearheaded the Divest Barclays campaign at UEA this year. Sophie is heavily involved in the Extinction Rebellion UEA group and is a Non-Portfolio Officer within UEA(SU).
The campaign has involved letters to the Executive Team, VC and Finance Committee, a petition, a motion to the Students’ Union and holding socially distanced demonstrations on campus.
The judges said that this was an excellent campaign with innovative ideas and recent success. Sophie has worked by herself and in a team in order to promote the Divest Barclays campaign. The submission included future plans, showing Sophie’s determination to increase the visibility of the campaign in order to achieve clear goals.
Recognising staff and student achievements in the development of academic courses, skills and capabilities relevant to sustainable development.
Chris Price (Lecturer in Media Practice in AMA)
Project: BAFTA’s Albert Sustainable Production Certification for Education
As a Lecturer in Media Practice, Chris Price has worked throughout 2019 with the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA), representing UEA as one of around twenty higher education institutions tasked with developing the course content for the rollout of BAFTA’s Albert Sustainable Production Certification initiative to media students across the UK.
UEA is now a founder member of Albert’s Education Partnership, resonating with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the teaching delivers lifelong learning to address four additional specific goals: responsible consumption & production; climate action; life below water; and life on land.
The judges said that this entry showed an outstanding commitment to addressing sustainability issues within the film and TV industry through active engagement in a national initiative with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). After working on this initiative for media students across the UK, Chris redesigned UEA’s existing course curriculum to embed understanding about sustainability within the modules he teaches. The content and approach of these modules connects directly with the SDGs around responsible consumption and production, climate action, and sustainable cities and communities.
This project is striking as it is not only about education for sustainability within the context of UEA film and TV courses, but also has the potential to reach across the UK and have an impact on lifelong learning within the industry.
Recognising staff and students who have identified and implemented a project to improve biodiversity or sustainability on campus, whether in outdoor or indoor spaces.
Hannah Hoechner, Sophie Ciurlik Rittenbaum, Henry Webb, James Graham, Saskia Ramsden, Rose Comben, Peggy Lee, Em Anderson, Heather Butcher, Peter Emmrich & Ted Tuthill-Jones.
Project: Extinction Rebellion UEA campaign for a more sustainable, ethical UEA
Over the past two years, Extinction Rebellion UEA has been campaigning for a more sustainable, ethical UEA. They organised a ‘Climate and Environmental Activism’ workshop for ‘Do Something Different Week’ in February 2020. This included a Q&A panel with seasoned activists, and discussions about activism, politics, decolonisation and climate justice. They initiated and passed a motion committing uea(su) to lobby UEA to implement a sustainable travel policy in January 2021. They have also initiated a ‘Divest Barclays’ campaign, with considerable success so far.
The judges said that this staff and student group has clear goals with ethics at their core. They’ve already had several recent successful campaigns around ethical investments and banking. Their continuing campaigns will have even more impact, demonstrating an excellent understanding of the influence of the university in meeting the SDGs.
Recognising staff and students who inspire others to think differently and take action on sustainability and environmental issues in a new and creative way.
Freyja Elwood (PPL student)
Project: Idun Collective
Freyja Elwood runs ‘The Idun Collective’, which is an Instagram based platform that advocates sustainable fashion. It puts the spotlight on independent, UK-based fashion brands which have a low environmental impact but are also affordable for students. Freyja runs ‘sustainable swap’ challenges, showcases sustainable brands, and honestly reviews products to show others how simple it is to make positive changes in their life. Freyja has also written articles for Concrete newspaper about sustainable fashion, Extinction Rebellion and consumption at Christmas. The Idun Collective page was set up just over six months ago and already has over 800 followers.
The judges commented that Freyja’s work relates to creativity for sustainability in several ways. They noted Freya’s energy in maintaining a professionally presented platform. It looks good, informing visitors’ fashion choices with engaging posts that review fashion brands and items according to their sustainability credentials. In addressing fashion, it also promotes new ways of thinking about creative industries and focuses on independent brands that can play a role in reducing harmful environmental impacts.
Freya demonstrates creative thinking and action in writing for other platforms too. Her articles for uea(su)’s Concrete have highlighted climate change issues and invited readers to reflect on their own habits of consumption. Finally, Freya’s organisation of ‘Sustainable Swap’ encourages individuals to take action by adjusting their fashion-consumption habits
The finale of the award ceremony was the SustainableUEA Special Recognition Award. Chosen by Prof Dylan Edwards, this award recognises the project amongst the five category winners that has made an outstanding contribution to UEA’s sustainability agenda during the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years.
Project: A Green Hero
Prof Edwards said: “I was impressed by Sarah’s passion and commitment to sustainability, leading initiatives and acting as a role model at UEA and outside in the broader community. I think she exemplified the inspirational grass roots engagement that helps bring everyone along.”
Sean Thompson – Project: BAFTA’S Albert Sustainable Production Certificate
Bayley Wooldridge & Hugh Braidwood – Project: uea+sport Goes Green
Dr Lee Beaumont – Project: Embracing the principles of ‘Leave No Trace’: Educating the next generation of students and outdoor practitioners about sustainable practice in outdoor education
Bayley Wooldridge & & Hugh Braidwood – Project: uea+sport Environmental Sustainability & Community Engagement Workshop
Lisa Howard, Charlotte Torbitt, Charlotte Melling & Oliver Cozens – Project: Leading the Charge on Going Green
Bayley Wooldridge & Hugh Braidwood – Project: Sustainability in Sport Working Group
Meg Watts – Project: Any Last Words? Creative Climate Writing Competition
Sebastian Brennan, Michael Prinz, Syed Bakht & Andrea Finegan – Project: Oakwood Fund Management
Congratulations to all the winners, shortlistees and everyone who entered this year’s SustainableUEA Awards.
All shortlisted entrants received a certificate, with the winners being given the opportunity to install biodiversity enhancements on campus, choosing between bat boxes, bird boxes and tawny owl nest boxes. Shortlisted entrants had further publicity opportunities to be considered as UEA Climate Stars and feature on the University’s social media channels.