Staff and students came together this week to mark the launch of the Academy for Sustainable Futures.

The Academy is based on ten years of pioneering work in sustainability and has been created to enable the University to make a step-change in its drive towards educating, advocating, and influencing our collective sustainable futures. In responding to the climate crisis, the Academy will drive forward the academic elements of the strategy, leveraging the University’s wider influence and civic duty.

Its priorities are:

  • to provide evidence through undertaking and sharing sustainability research;
  • embed education for sustainability within all learning and teaching;
  • exemplify sustainable practices through University operations; and
  • build relationships for change through engagement with the University and local communities, and with national and international policy and policy-makers.

Speaking at the launch event held at the Canterbury city campus, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, spoke of the importance of the Academy as the University celebrates its Diamond Jubilee and looks to its future.

“At the core of our commitment for 60 years has been a desire to pursue social justice. The Academy for Sustainable Futures reflects our values to use education and research to support our local communities and change society for the better,” he said.

“We have been hugely committed to driving this agenda forward through our strategic plans and in collaboration with our staff, students and the wider community.”

Professor Thirunamachandran also highlighted how the University will act and respond to the current climate crisis.

Over the last decade we have reduced our carbon emissions by 54%. Through the Futures Initiative we have been promoting sustainability within the curriculum. Our work in taking forward our commitment to sustainability has been recognised through numerous awards including several Green Gown Awards and the Sustainability Team was recently a recipient of an Advance HE Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence. "Now, with the Academy, it is about mainstreaming and embedding sustainability across the whole of the University, within our education, research and advocacy. Across our staff and student body and right across external partners to ensure we make a real change.

Professor Rama Thirunamachandran Vice-Chancellor

Christ Church Students’ Union President Dan Bichener also explained that responding to the climate emergency is not just about reducing, reusing and recycling.

“It is about understanding that we are a global community, and it is our responsibility to protect those who are the most at risk and vulnerable. We as a student movement hope that the Academy for Sustainable Futures will use its position as an educator to ensure that Christ Church graduates leave this University armed with the knowledge, power and confidence to tackle the climate crisis head-on. Not just to save the planet but to save humanity.”

The keynote speaker was Dr Jane Davidson, former Minister for Education, then Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in the Welsh Government, and the author of #futuregen: lessons from a small country. Jane said: “Congratulations to Canterbury Christ Church University for their very real commitment to making a change. This isn’t just a conversation about whether or not we should act. Or asking what is the evidence for us acting? This is a conversation about whether you are prepared, collectively and individually, to get on the path to change. It is about creating the right conditions that are able to deliver for the environment, society, economy and culture. And as this Academy grows, you all have to demand that the Academy has a duty to deliver change.”

Dr Peter Rands, Director of Sustainability at the University, said: “It is now clearer than ever that it is time to act big, to move further and faster. We need to act with compassion and courage to change the things that we can; to leave behind unsustainable behaviours and processes and contribute meaningfully to a sustainable future for us all.”

As part of a range of year-long events to celebrate the University’s Diamond Jubilee and show its commitment to a sustainable future, there are numerous opportunities for staff, students and the wider community to join in and show their support for a more sustainable campus. These include:

  • the planting of 420 hedgerow saplings outside of the Verena Holmes Building to attract birds and wildlife. The saplings have been donated by the Queen’s Green Canopy Project and planting will take place on Wednesday 23 March between 9am and 12pm. Everyone is welcome to attend and help with the planting.
  • a new Jubilee Garden on the Canterbury campus which will be formally opened on 29 April at 10am, and
  • an International Forest will be planted at Stodmarsh sports fields.

The events form part of the Wilder Campus Jubilee project, to further enhance the campus environment.

For more information about the Academy, visit the Academy for Sustainable Futures webpages.

Notes to editors

From 2000 – 2011, Jane is Pro Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David was Minister for Education, then Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in the Welsh Government, where she proposed legislation to make sustainability the central organising principle. The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 connects environmental and social health and looks to solve complex issues such as poverty, education and unemployment. Wales remains the only country in the world to have put long-term sustainability into law.

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