Sustainability Action Blog


What attracted me to the Sustainability Action internship programme?

By Bethany White |

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability is probably one of the most fashionable current buzzwords. Most of us will immediately conjure up images of everyday environmental issues – the most common of these being climate change, recycling, low energy use and general ‘greenness’. Indeed, these are very real issues which our generation faces. During my final year at Southampton I have come to discover that sustainability is not purely about everything ‘green’.

Sustainability in the Local and Global Environment conference

Sustainability in the Local and Global Environment conference

Rather, it incorporates far more than I ever could have imagined….

At Southampton I studied Anthropology – this has naturally meant I have a great interest in people, places and the way other cultures function. It is probably a subject that most wouldn’t associate with sustainability, right? It was only when I decided to enroll onto the UOSM 2015 module ‘Sustainability in the Local and Global Environment’ I discovered that in fact, I had a totally skewed perception of what the concept of sustainability means and involves.

The module showed me that sustainability is the developmental process whereby present social, environmental and economic activity does not influence future generations’ ability to meet their own needs.

I also learnt more about environmental issues locally and globally. I’ve always had an interest in this and it was a great opportunity to absorb more outside of my degree area. Yet I was struck by the number of discussions dedicated to human and social aspects of sustainability. One of the topics looked at was how traditional cultures across the world – past and present – are forcibly removed from their homes so the land can be used to produce things needed for western lifestyles. What we were talking about seemed so related to aspects of Anthropology I had studied and this really excited me.

The realisation that sustainability was so interrelated with environmental, social and economic factors was the main reason I applied to be an intern for Sustainability Action. To know that my interests in Anthropology and human culture were part of a bigger picture – where our actions have very real implications on future generations – made me feel I had a responsibility to act.

Sustainability week

Sustainability week

I applied for the internship with no real expectations of being successful, – thinking that the team would probably prefer someone from a more environmental degree background. It just sounded far too good to miss – working on different projects where I would have the opportunity to voice my views on how best to engage students in sustainability across campus and in the community.

I am now just finishing my fourth week out of twelve in the internship with Sustainability Action. I am absolutely loving it. It is a very exciting time to be part of the movement. So if you do have an interest in environmental, social and economic issues and ideas both on campus, in the community and globally– get involved. Or for those who think you may be interested but are not sure – find out more. You are being given an incredibly exciting opportunity to implement change within your university.

Trust me – you won’t be disappointed.

To find out more visit our Sustainability Action website.

Or alternatively email me at: or tweet: @b_white642