Students as partners and innovators

At Sussex we dare to be different and truly value the importance of student voice in co-creating a more radical and meaningful sustainable student experience.

We will actively engage students on co-delivering all of the outputs from this strategy. Recognising the great work done by the numerous sustainability related societies on campus, such as the Leave No Trace Society and Food Waste Café.

As an organisation, we will collaborate closely with the University of Sussex Students’ Union. We will: proactively respond to student referenda on environmental issues; ask for advice from the independent Student Sustainability Committee; and hold citizen-style assemblies on contentious sustainability issues with current staff and students. This will start with a citizen-style assembly on reducing meat consumption on campus by 2023.

We will recruit current Sussex students through our Student Connector Programme (and recent graduates through our Sussex Graduate Programme) to be paid members of the University Sustainability Team. This will help to strengthen student voice and engagement in all that we do.

Students are a continuing source of innovation and new ideas for improving the world that we live in. For example, our recent Product Design BSc graduate, Lucy Hughes, won the global James Dyson Award in 2019 for developing a fish waste derived alternative to synthetic single-use plastic, following support and incubation at Sussex. We want to continue to harness the spirit of social and environmental innovation within our student body. So, we will hold grand challenges and innovation competitions to support our students to create the sustainability solutions of the future.

We are launching our first grand sustainability challenge for students alongside this strategy. First- and second-year students will be asked to work together in teams of up to six, to put forward innovative ideas for improving sustainable waste, water consumption, biodiversity and travel on campus in ways that can benefit the wider community and help aid Covid recovery. Four teams will win a prize of £5,000 each to implement their ideas and will receive incubation support from the University innovation team in autumn 2021 to help bring their ideas to life.

In recognition of the importance of students as sustainability innovators and early adopters we will also conduct a review by September 2021 focused on how to promote social impact in student entrepreneurship, including whether to extend entrepreneurship work to local under-represented residents.