Sustainability Action Blog


Employability opportunity #2: what to expect

By Imogen Dinham-Price |

Artistic Impression; Learning from the Sharp End Symposium, Bristol

Artistic Impression; Learning from the Sharp End Symposium, Bristol

Last week in this blog I presented to you an opportunity and this week I want to write from experience. The experience being my own experience presenting at an International Symposium. Sometimes by knowing what others have experienced can put you in better stead and make you feel more at ease when doing something for yourself and especially if it is your first time…

On Monday 7th September 2015 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 mind sets towards a more sustainable mentality, it was my turn to discuss my experiences of the last three months and more generally being an intern 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 and business leaders about my experience as an intern and a student in today’s 21st century university experience, which was very much valued.

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 situation.

Secondly, the benefit of having an international conference is not only to 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 of 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 and partaking in an International Symposium, especially after COP21 has presented us with some pressing concerns!