Be the change 2.0

Do you remember the article ‘Be the change’, which was published in The AEGEEan a few weeks ago? Did you have the chance to attend the workshop ‘Impact your university’ during the Agora in Patra? In case you didn’t, we got you covered with this article!

‘Impact your university’ was a workshop conducted by rootAbility, a social business that drives the sustainability transition of the European higher education sector by establishing and coaching student-driven and staff-supported sustainability units, teams and projects. They believe that universities and colleges should create new knowledge to solve complex sustainability questions. Universities and colleges are educating the decision-makers of tomorrow on relevant sustainability competencies. They should therefore reduce their organisations’ ecological and social footprints and assist regions in their sustainability transition.

Do you believe that you can change the world with a simple students’ project? Perhaps it sounds a bit difficult, but if you start small you can have an impact! As university students we are one of the biggest stakeholders in our society. With this manpower behind us, starting with our own institution can be a smart idea when changing the way we live. Later on you can always make it bigger. When rootAbility started, it began with the Maastricht University’s Green Office in 2010. They took sustainability matters into their own hands, the student’s hands.

In the workshop, rootAbility communicated the tools and steps you need to implement your own project. We learned that it is not so much about having ideas but more about executing them. Concrete planning should therefore play a major role before jumping right ahead and try to change things. Thinking about possible problems, strategies to mitigate them and ideas on how to engage the stakeholders for the project are necessary activities to ensure later success.

Photo by: Elise Bessieres

Using a project canvas, sustainability projects were identified through problem analysis, planned according to their needed resources and activities that were mapped corresponding to the desired outcomes. However, no one can plan a whole project in such a short period of time completely. Learning that further steps such as writing a project plan or proposal are required to move on was also a part of the workshop.

We can learn a lot from the business world, even when implementing sustainability projects. Taking the tools you need from different disciplines and working together with students from various study backgrounds further contribute to a project’s realization. With resources that are accessible at your university such as its infrastructure, the knowledge from professors and peers, its reputation or the university’s network, every student is in a unique position to impact their direct surroundings, while also improving your university experience.

Besides, the life skills learned in project management are widely applicable, and more and more employers are seeking graduates that have such additional skills. So, the knowledge acquired when executing a sustainability projects can be used later on and complement university curricula. At the end of the day you have the power to have an impact on the society! Think big, start small and change the world for the better!

In case you have any questions regarding student-driven and staff-supported change projects for sustainability, do not hesitate to contact, or visit Rootability.


Written by Iris Hordijk, Policy Officer on Sustainability