Collaborative Regional Conference Showcases Student Sustainability Research

The Student Sustainability Research Conference, held at the University of Leeds on 6 March 2024, showcased the research of over 100 students from across Yorkshire. This is the second year that the conference has been open to students from the twelve Yorkshire Universities (YU) member institutions across all levels and disciplines. The collaborative approach to this conference allows students to explore complex and far-reaching sustainability challenges from diverse perspectives that span across subject areas and institutional structures. 

The conference saw over 500 delegates registered, with attendees from eleven YU institutions. This year, there were 108 student contributors sharing their research across 57 presentations, four workshops, three installations, one biodiversity monitoring session and over 70 academic posters. The sessions on the day were structured to draw together ideas around a variety of sustainability themes from across disciplines and institutions. It was brilliant to see some of the connections and contrasts being made between related areas of research. The interactive elements of the workshops and instillations supported opportunities for new collaboration and allowed students to learn from and connect with their peers.  

One of the interactive workshops at the conference was hosted by the winners of the1 December Multi-University Challenge Day that YU jointly hosted with the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission as part of the UPP Regional Sustainability Service-Learning Pilot Project. The group of students from five YU institutions came together again to host a session outlining their experience of working together, putting forward their ideas for engaging students with the links between food and carbon emissions, as well as facilitating the participants to create their own innovative solutions to sustainability challenges. Keep an eye out for an upcoming student blog from one of the facilitators of this session, sharing their experience of the workshop, as well as their thoughts on the broader benefits of multi-institutional collaboration. 

There was a wide range of engagement from students throughout and following the day, with many positive testimonials shared on social media, #SSRC24. The feedback received has been really positive, with the most common one-word description used for the conference being ‘inspiring’.  

For a second year in a row, YU helped to convene the Student Sustainability Research Conference Steering Group, which brought together colleagues across the region to support the engagement of students from across our member institutions with the conference. The Steering Group and the organisers from the University of Leeds have been committed to ensuring this opportunity is accessible for students from across the entire region, with dedicated coaches for students from Hull, York, Sheffield, Huddersfield and Bradford.  

A new feature of this year’s Student Sustainability Research Conference was a ‘Careers in Sustainability’ networking event which brought together employers from across the region and was open to all students participating at the conference. There was also a new collaboration with the London Student Sustainability Conference, which saw top presenters from each conference travel to present their ideas at both conferences. 

It has been amazing to see how the collaborative elements of the Student Sustainability Research Conference have developed in the two years that we have supported this initiative and we look forward to seeing how students from across the region continue to benefit from this opportunity. We also continue to consider how this activity can help to harness the collective insights and experience of the region’s students to contribute to regional climate action in collaboration with the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission.  

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