Leicester’s sustainability praised in new guide

The University of Leicester's Living Labs approach has been showcased as an example of good practice in a guide from the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) and the National Union of Students.

Applying learning and research on and off campus is the perfect way to promote next-generation sustainability for next-generation learning. This approach is often referred to as a ‘Living Lab’, and the University has just been highlighted in a new national guide for demonstrating the impact and value of student-engaged research.

Living Labs at Leicester mostly take place through the academic curriculum, with projects carried out through dissertations in science and geographical science disciplines. While work is being done to measure their impact and students are required to produce a report with findings and recommendations, there has been no obligation for these to be used as a basis for implementing change on the campus.

We have been trying to make the most of these great ideas, and a fantastic example of the potential of Living Labs at Leicester was shown in a student partnership with the Estates division, where a final-year student collaborated on a campus-wide sustainability programme.

Hannah Sellers, a Biological Sciences graduate, undertook a study of tree species and insect diversity on campus in order to identify the trees that would best support the campus insect population. She presented her findings to the Biodiversity Working Group who included her ideas in the University’s Biodiversity Action Plan, which has been used by estates in planning the work of our gardens team. Her work resulted in her winning a Green Gown Award from EAUC.

Hannah’s work also led to the creation of a graduate internship co-ordinating Living Labs at institution level. The programme, called Research in Action, involves meeting with academics from across the University to create a joined-up approach and make the most of the sustainability ideas coming from our staff and students.