AUL/Sustainability and university
The underyling thought of this meeting is to problematize some adhoc thoughts on how to make the university green.
While thinking about this, one can easily come in contact with the notion of "sustainable development". Around this notion and "university" several publications can be found. e.g.:
- Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit
- Environmental management systems for universities - A case study
At the meeting we can feed in experiences from Australia and Germany, and from all the participants of the meeting.
Bring something to eat and drink!
[[MINUTES OF MEETING and random additions that weren't articulated on the day ]]
We decided to talk in small groups first about what the concept of 'green university' meant to us.
some ingenious ideas from these discussions:
a) sustainable constructions/buildings - and energy efficiency in them! at the moment heating is either on or off, what about in between?!
b) green curriculum - personal development planning boring pdp
c) campus carbon/ecological footprint and carbon offset?
d) environmental officers have no power / people don't know who they are
e) paper - recycled paper use in library etc, financial input to forestry, make copying etc. more expensive, double-sided only
f) cut down on hardware waste - develop printer hardware
g) community living - waster through individual cooking in halls etc., housing co-op mentality, buying/cooking together, relationship with cleaners? people should be responsible!
h) organic gardens - one per college?
i) catering - plastic cups - bring own cup initiatives, locally sourced foods and EVERYTHING.
j) reversal of privatisation/franchises of uni services
k) vegetarian cafe!
l) TRANSPORT - bus subsidies, more routes, care share initiatvies, make sure more than one in each car, different types of car permits to discourage, tram from morecambe!
m) green ethical investments!
n) food co-op on campus
o) green map of campus - improve existing one and add non-green things like how much energy wasted in certain buildings!
p) improve info packs for freshers, including much green propoganda
q) boycotts - e.g. NUS in bed with coca-cola...
r) vegan/fair trade/local alcohol - is all three possible?! selfmade.......start a brewerey society now!
s) better cool things for lovely cyclists - lockers, showers, cycle parks, maps
t) suprise day trip for first years to rubbish tip - leave them there!
u) fostering community thinking - change attitudes - things in isolating won't achieve anything - MAKE PEOPLE CARE!
v) upset corporate investors
w) green league tables - change criteria - one box for green and one for cluster bombs! the uni can be both! make sure this isn't the case! no environmental management greenwash. tell uni they're lagging behind their corporate buddies.
we then drank tea, complained about life and then returned to some more ingenious and innovative comments on how to start the communitarian revolution:
ingmar (in servitude to others...) and michaela gave short statements based on their experiences with students' environmental action in germany and in australia.
ingmar, firstly, explains four layers/categories of action for green the uni:
a) "doing" concrete things: e.g. environmental officers facilitate recylcing, cooking, cycling...
b) "studying" using academics: e.g. doing green research (green topics, or greening topics, greening research processes (no flights)), making interdisciplinary links to focus on environmental issues, green institutions (modules for students, institutes for research)
c) "thinking" only: groups, which focus on specific discussions, such as e.g. sustainable development, relation uni-city/region, green marxism, renewable energies, [green anarchy]
d) "setting agendas" changing immediate discourse: lobbying/awareness raising/consciousness building through action on the "street" or in uni committees.
these four categories are not mutually exclusive: green strategies should have elements of all of them!
secondly, ingmar explains some criticism on university environmental management (UEM): UEM is often seen as the logical consequence to improve the environmental situation of the uni. however, the danger exists, that there is only greenwashing. the environmental managers do not usually have the power or intention to influence the university business fundamentally. some universities, such as oxford brookes, got some nice labels (EMAS, ISO 14.000ff.) to indicate that they are green unis. BUT: such UEM systems are mostly based on top-down structures: environmental managers and environmental experts define WHAT IT IS to have a green uni and how to become a green uni. to green the uni, the uni is explained in material streams, which are controlled through expert knowledge (technocratic fix). Thus, UEM is depolitizising environmental issues.
(more thoughts from random anarchist) this is analogous to giving money to charity, which perpetuates the system at it is, with people thinking they're really doing something to help. if there was no charity (as some socialists advocate), then maybe the crisis would come sooner and what we have left of (wild) nature would be possible to save earlier. also analogous to nature restoration, whereby we profit from spoiling the land for commercial use, then from the restoration. the value is in the pockets of the ruling class while we all pretend it's ok to say the public understanding of restoration is anthropocentric and there's no chance of moving from this, thus we are static. revolutionise management....NON-ANTHROPOCENTRIC UNI?!
So, we need to integrate decision-making structures into UEM, which include students voices / input from "below" -> make UEM system democratic! The green issues of the uni should not be approached with technocratic technical fix ideas, but we need a critical thinking, ecologically reflected multitude of people.
michaela introduced several activities at her uni:
a) "green office": subsumed by university admin
b) "environmental campaigning": taking people into forests, to reactors: politizising students. this activity usually reinvented the weel avery few years, after the campaigner group broke down.
c) "food co-op"
d) "permaculture garden": affiliated with the uni but were more independent (for students and wider community). (interesting to think about this structure also in terms of AUL: party affiliated to uni)
Thoughts for concrete action: PROPOSALS
a) thoughts about food co-op in a trailer? use SPAR/LUSU shop? find the guy who has the money! maybe find a room and do it permanently? this was tried in the past. very successful in Leeds. also an ideal point of contact for propaganda.
b) Problem of transitional student populations. solutions could be either closer contact to people from the town/region or to staff of the uni, such that the discourse can be continued for several student generations.
b) i) anarchic interjection - yes! this is what i was going to say! seeing the uni as situated in a wider , more permanent local community and thus getting round the problem of tansient population. establishing links between groups in the local area and groups on campus (and individuals also...). maybe organising a series of workshops, practical and more theoretical. or simply practical like getting conservation groups together, getting someone to talk about allotments/permaculture/homeopathy, critical mass. this would compliment the theoretical seminars we have, which are often radical but always leave me thinking 'what do we do now?'.....
c) Projects/working groups (can't get enough of these!).....apparently there are working groups already in the uni 'structures' on things like transport......contact these folk.......
- Green Map (incl. recycling). GSA can copy in large amounts. Make map different: situationist/psychogeographical map (Ingmar, Michaela, Martin)
- Food Co-op (Helen, John, Michaela) email@example.com
- Recycling - creating working groups in halls etc, so people know who their reps are (direct democracy....) (Helen, Michaela) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practical workshops (what do people think? i didn't actually talk about this.......may be some overlaps with the AUL-list-future-topics....) (Helen) email@example.com