Posts from ACTS: Jennifer McMillin engages students

Posted on October 7, 2008



Jennifer McMillin from ANUgreen spoke at the Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability conference in Christchurch last week.  

Jennifer talked about Engaging students in campus sustainability: learning experiences, using campus as laboratory.

The focus of her talk was ways of engaging the majority of students who “don’t come looking for courses on sustainability”.  This has benefits as a learning experience,  boost programme outcomes, building community, spreading the word, and bring enthusiasm and new ideas to the sustainability pool. 

Part of their approach is a sustainability internship programme.  This is a 7 day internship with a well defined task.  Students are selected for the internship on the basis of an application that describes how the experience will benefit them professionally and personally).   The project is supervised by ANUgreen staff sometimes partnering with academics.  Students are compensated $1500 (although Jennifer is quite sure wouldn’t need it).  

Jennifer says an important part of the success of the programme is that this practical experience is real.   The students are considered to be acting as a consultant with a business-like report.  The institution shows commitment to the students by valuing and using their work.  Projects have included ANU promo video, feasibility study park and ride, online sustainability pledge, green office case studies, green cleaning contracts, building comfort guide, green roof feasibility study.

Other initiatives Jennifer presented were including sustainability projects in coursework (look for courses that match needs with lecturers prepared to be flexible) .   She also talked about supporting student groups with facilitator training workshops, action planning, skill building.    ANUgreen helps run a Green Shield Competition with halls competing to reduce energy and water consumption.   There is an ANU Sustainability Learning competition and ANUgreen hosts campus sustainability events such as Sustainability Day”.

A key message from ANUgreen is “delight not fright”.  They focus on positive messages.