At Sheffield, we are proud of our students’ knowledge, dedication and activism within the sustainability agenda.
Sheffield provides world-class research and teaching on environmental issues and all students will engage with Education for Sustainable Development to equip them with the knowledge and skills to prepare them for the jobs of the future. We know that many Sheffield students already have the knowledge and enthusiasm to make a real impact on our sustainability work. Students are invited through our governance structure and our open engagement with campaigns to get involved in shaping our sustainability agenda.
Students and student representatives play key roles in both the Sustainability Steering Group and Sustainability Delivery Group. The Sheffield Students’ Union Development Officer, as an elected sabbatical officer and student lead for sustainability, sits on both groups. The Students’ Union Sustainability Coordinator and the President of the Student Sustainability Committee also sit on the Delivery Group. Both positions play a key role in mobilising and representing SU and student sustainability activities.
Below our formal structures there are a range of social and environmental student societies for students to get involved with. To find out more, visit the Sheffield Students’ Union website.
In the writing of our sustainability strategy, we sought to keep our student voice at the heart of our work. The audit on which our strategy is based, was undertaken by PhD students at the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. During our strategy development, we invited a student lead from the SU Sustainability Committee to sit on each Advisory Group responsible for drafting work around each of our Sustainable Development Goals. Student involvement in these groups has provided a unique perspective and many student suggestions have made it into the final strategy.
As well as involving representatives in the drafting process, we have made sure to consult with students on our draft work. The Students’ Union ran a session in which the students involved in writing the strategy and the SU Development Officer consulted with interested students and fed back their thoughts and concerns. This work has been collated and is being addressed in ongoing strategy development work.
Students have taken an active approach to mobilisation around specific sustainability issues. We recognise the passion students have for sustainability and that on some issues, the University has been behind the curve. We strive for a positive dialogue with campaigns and have succeeded in finding solutions to issues that are of common interest for both student campaigners and the University.
In 2015, the University of Sheffield pledged to be one of the first universities to divest from fossil fuel investments. This pledge came about after student pressure led to an open dialogue between senior University staff, student campaigners and Students’ Union representatives. Our divestment was completed in April 2019 and we are currently considering how we can progress this work further to actively invest in socially and environmentally just projects.
The University has engaged successfully with the student campaign UoS Clean Energy Switch. The campaign lobbied the University to change its electricity supplier to a fully renewable provider. In May 2020, the University announced that it had signed new fully renewable electricity contracts for all procured electricity. Throughout this process, we worked pragmatically with the UoS Clean Energy Switch group as well as our energy procurement consultants to explore low carbon opportunities.
Our sustainability strategy
We have set the principles and direction for our Year 1 sustainability strategy.