Sustainability Action Blog


A Postcard from Bristol

By Imogen Dinham-Price |



Taking in the views from Europe’s Green Capital


Week Eleven on the Sustainability Action Internship: attend and present at an International Conference. ‘Yea, why not’ were my initial thoughts…

…And I am very glad they were!

On Monday 7th September I (along with my supervisors) took the early morning train up to Bristol, which gave me an insight to the life of a ‘commuter’. Anyhow, we were en route to an International Conference titled: Learning from the sharp end – implications for sustainability in Higher Education International Symposium. The two day conference’s main agenda was to focus and update upon the advances of sustainable development within education.

The conference was laid out into workshops, presentations, networking breaks, food and lots of coffee drinking! In this way there was opportunity for everyone to have their say both formally and informally in discussion. So after watching two days of presentations on how academics could change students, it was my turn to discuss my experiences of the last three months and being a student in the sustainability sector.  Before the presentation, I of course had all those normal feelings of nerves, few shakes (probably from all the coffee) and sweaty palms…but I can honestly say I loved it! These opportunities do not come often, I never thought I, yet alone whilst on an internship, would ever have the privilege to experience presenting to a floor of academics, business leaders about my experience as an intern and a student in today’s 21st century university experience, which was very much valued.


Workshop negotiations in illustration form

So did I learn from the sharp end?

For a student learning about sustainability there are many times of uncertainty as it is a topic whereby answers are unknown.  In knowing this it was comforting to know that universities want to provide an adaptive environment for students so that they learn in the changeable circumstances.

The conference, therefore, gave me a greater understanding of how others felt towards this topic and encouragement that people are all working in a community to join the pieces together in an often complex solution.

Secondly, the benefit of having an international conference is not only do you learn about the ideas from other counties but you can begin to assess how the language is used and whether their definition of sustainability is similar to ours or not. Not that there is a right definition to sustainability but someone might be having more success. Through hosting a conference these ideas, points and values can be discussed and questioned hopefully bringing together a more detailed conclusion of thoughts at the end.

For myself the main point I decided to take away from this conference was the fact that there should be a strong emphasis on student-led action, as students should be seen as the ‘change agents’ and not who need to be changed. I hope that this can give you some inspiration for becoming involved with sustainability matters within University, especially as COP21 is fast approaching!

Lastly I would just like to thank Julia Kendal and Simon Kemp for a brilliant 2 days.