Embedding Sustainability across the Curriculum, Operations, Research and Experience (CORE) of a University: A Case Study of Waste Management at the University of Southampton

By Simon Kemp, Neil Smith and Michael Travers.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Education

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The approach of many universities to sustainability can be diverse but fragmented. Much good work takes place across global higher education institutions but it is often delivered in isolation by activities such as environmental management at an estates level, teaching sustainability
in individual programmes, collaborative interdisciplinary research projects, and student conservation work. Through imaginative practices it is possible to unite these frequently detached activities with clear benefits to the sustainability of institutions. This adoption of sustainability practices can reduce the environmental footprint, deliver financial savings, enhance the employability profiles of students, produce research outputs, and help create sustainability literate graduates. This paper investigates how the University of Southampton is working towards embedding sustainability across the Curriculum, Operations, Research, and Experience (CORE) of the institution through the case study of a five year programme of ongoing institutional-wide waste audits at the University of Southampton between 2007 and 2011. This innovative practice can be demonstrated to provide valuable professional development opportunities for students whilst helping to green the campus, reduce scope 3 carbon emissions, and reduce expenditure.

Keywords: Embedding Sustainability, Waste Audits, Research, Curriculum Innovation, Estate Management, Student Experience, Sustainability Literate Graduates

International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.143-149. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 194.780KB).

Simon Kemp

Director of Employability and Employer Engagement, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

Simon Kemp is a Principal Teaching Fellow with the position of Director of Employability and Employer Engagement in the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton where he has worked since 1996. He is also the UK Higher Education Academy’s Academic Lead in Education for Sustainable Development. Simon has been recognised as an innovator in pedagogical theory and case study practice through the award of a National Teaching Fellowship from the United Kingdom’s Higher Education Academy. His teaching and research interests lie in Environmental Management Systems (EMS), Carbon Footprinting, Environmental Law, Waste Management, and Education for Sustainable Development. He has coordinated over a hundred sustainability projects with industrial partners for teaching and assessment projects in sectors such as construction and demolition, retail, freight handling, energy, waste, and health care taking some to ISO14001:2004. One of his main ongoing projects is leading the University of Southampton in a national ‘Green Academy’ project to embed sustainability across the institution.

Neil Smith

Environment Manager, University of Southampton, UK

Neil Smith is the Environment Manager at the University of Southampton, arriving in 2005. His remit is to act as a focal point for environment and sustainability matters, keep the organisation legal and provide strategic direction. Neil graduated in 1986 with a 2:1 in Applied Biology from the University of Bath and then completed his PhD in fish physiology at the University of Dundee in 1990. He then held a number of posts at area, regional and national level in the National Rivers Authority and Environment Agency over a fifteen year period. In his Southampton role, Neil also forges partnerships with external bodies to deliver common sustainability objectives. He was a member of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) and a Chartered Scientist. He was a Board member for the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) for five years, standing down this year.

Michael Travers

Campus Services Manager, University of Southampton, UK

Michael Travers is the Campus Services Manager at the University of Southampton where one of his main responsibilities lies in waste management. Michael leads the logistics of the annual waste audits, from planning, site set-up, waste collection, and data management. Michael previously worked as a surveyor for Poole Contract Services.