OurEd: Creating an Online Social Responsibility and Sustainability Community

By Rhys Howell, Michele Wisdahl, Joseph Farthing, David Somervell and Mary Bownes.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The University of Edinburgh has adopted a whole-institution approach to social responsibility and sustainability (SRS)–defined as understanding and addressing social, environmental and economic global challenges. In order to further student engagement with SRS, we have developed OurEd, an online resource to inspire University of Edinburgh students to get involved. OurEd maintains a holistic approach to SRS by bringing together all of the University’s SRS related activities in one place, including information on events, courses, societies, volunteering, and internships. OurEd has been successful at demystifying SRS by conceptualising it as issues of environment, development, health, and social justice. OurEd’s approach is to highlight those students and societies who are already actively engaged in the SRS agenda. By telling students’ stories, OurEd demonstrates the excitement and rewards of getting involved and encourages community among students around these issues. OurEd was developed following consultation with the student body. As a result, the site is highly student focused in design and usability, making use of social media and other interactive applications. OurEd is a significant contribution to the knowledge base surrounding practical ways to engender sustainable behaviour within student communities.

Keywords: Student Communication, Social Responsibility and Sustainability

International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.1-9. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 268.126KB).

Rhys Howell

Research Assistant, Estates & Buildings, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

I am responsible for designing and implementing practical projects to engage the University community in social responsibility and sustainability. My research interests lie in investigating societal responses to sustainability issues. I have an MSc in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh, and a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science from the University of East Anglia.

Michele Wisdahl

PhD Student, Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, UK

I am a Social Anthropology PhD student investigating access to education in Brazil. I also work as a part of the University of Edinburgh social responsibility and sustainability team. In 2008, I studied an MSc in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. Prior to that, I served for six years as a Residence Director in residence halls at the University of Massachusetts, having previously earned a MA in University Student Development at Appalachian State University. Having lived in residence halls for thirteen years, I have a keen understanding of university students and their capacity for making change.

Joseph Farthing

Communications Officer, Transition Edinburgh University, University of Edinburgh, UK

David Somervell

Sustainability Adviser, Estates & Buildings, University of Edinburgh, UK

Prof. Mary Bownes

Vice Principal and Professor of Developmental Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK

Mary Bownes is Vice Principal at the University of Edinburgh with strategic responsibility in postgraduate affairs, widening participation, recruitment, admission, scholarships, sustainability and community relations. She is a Professor of Developmental Biology and Director of the Scottish Institute for Biotechnology Education. She has led an international research team investigating developmental biology, trained 27 PhD students and published over 100 papers in international peer reviewed journals. Science communication is a particular interest of Mary’s, especially the development of materials for use in schools and at science festivals to encourage people to take an active interest in biotechnology and how it affects everyday life. She is also very active in encouraging and enabling researchers to engage with the public about their research. She leads the Edinburgh Beltane Team, and chairs the Sustainability and Environment Advisory Group, coordinating a whole-institution approach to social responsibility and sustainability.