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University wins at UK Sustainability Awards

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At the awards ceremony: UWTSD Vice Chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes and Jane Davidson

At the awards ceremony: UWTSD Vice Chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes and Jane Davidson

THE UNIVERSITY of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) is celebrating its success following the prestigious Green Gown Awards in Bristol.
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Awarded to UWTSD for its Institute for Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resources Effectiveness (INSPIRE). INSIPRE is the University’s institutional approach to delivering sustainability through its culture, curriculum campuses and community.
The judges’ described INSPIRE as delivering ‘strong institution-wide strands for sustainability, embedded at all levels of the University. It demonstrates a top-down structured approach with clear goals and good results’.
LEADERSHIP AWARD
This award was presented to Dr Jane Davidson, Director of INSPIRE at UWTSD. Dr Davidson established INSPIRE in 2012 before which UWTSD had no history of involvement in sustainability. Three years on, INSPIRE has won the Guardian Award for Sustainability in HE in 2013 and the Soil Association Gold Catering Mark for its support of local producers in 2014. In 2015, UWTSD rose from 113th in the UK and a 3rd class degree to a 1st class degree and 8th in the UK (1st in Wales) in the People and Planet University League.
The judges’ said ‘Jane’s exemplary leadership demonstrates powerfully the role of a university as a catalyst for change and an ‘anchor’ institution impacting city/region and beyond. Jane has championed the embedding of sustainability throughout the university strategy. This is particularly powerful as the university is a dual sector institution, and this agenda connected the community during a time of change. Jane is an inspirational leader, charismatic and enabling of others – she is authentic and her passion has created a unique space for creativity and change led by others’.
SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION – STAFF
This award was presented to Luci Attala, Anthropology Programme Director at UWTSD. Luci believes that to stimulate genuine and lasting change people need to experience how their actions make a difference. Recognising that future leadership demands confident individuals who make clear, bold decisions, Luci works stridently to empower undergraduates in diverse ways.
Her community work with students in Kenya was recognised with a UN Gold Star Award in 2014.
The judges were impressed with the breadth, quality and scale of the work undertaken by Luci. She has embedded sustainability into the anthropology curriculum, influenced other academics to adapt their teaching and learning techniques and provided a significant amount of support to students to help them raise money for developing countries. Her passion for sustainability was described by the judges as ‘truly inspirational’.
SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION AWARD – STAFF
Highly commended in this category was Gwenllian Beynon, Art and Design Senior Lecturer and Programme Director at UWTSD. Sustainable Pedagogy incorporating ‘social, economic, environmental and cultural’ values, is central to Gwenllian’s role in Higher Education. She has enabled students to study in their own language, to look at their own and global cultures, and to embrace sustainability in creative practice.
The judges were ‘impressed by the way in which she had embedded sustainability into her art and design course, developed the new Welsh language degrees and the international project with St Michael’s School to share sustainability expertise and learning across borders. The judges were also delighted to see the way that Gwenllion had involved the local community in her work – providing practical, sustainability experience for a student from the local school’.
SUSTAINABILITY IS KEY FOR UNIVERSITY
Now in its eleventh year, the Green Gown Awards provide universities and colleges with benchmarks for excellence and are well respected by governments, funding councils, senior managers, academics and students alike. The Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK. With sustainable development moving up the global agenda, the Awards are now established as the most prestigious recognition of sustainability excellence within the tertiary education sector, as well as the environmental sector.
The UWTSD Group, which includes Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion, was shortlisted in six categories representing cross-campus initiatives as well as individual staff contributions to the sustainability agenda.
Dr Jane Davidson said “This is excellent news that demonstrates clearly the University’s commitment to sustainability. Colleagues and students across the UWTSD Group have worked diligently to ensure that this important agenda is embedded throughout our core operations and culture.
“UWTSD has placed sustainable development as a core value and aims to ensure that our students and graduates develop the skills and attributes that are required by employers and society across the world.”
Professor Medwin Hughes, UWTSD Vice-Chancellor, said: “These are prestigious accolades and they acknowledge our commitment to sustainability as one of our core values. Most importantly it celebrates the excellent and inspiring work of colleagues and students across the University’s campuses.”
Iain Patton, Chief Executive of the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), said: “Every year the Green Gown Awards rewrite what business-as-usual looks like for UK universities and colleges. Sustainability makes business sense and this year’s inspiring initiatives prove that sustainability benefits staff, students, the wider community and of course the bottom line. Congratulations to all the finalists for their hard work.”

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Education

PhD conference hears from Welsh researchers

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WELSH agricultural researchers, Non Williams and Eiry Williams, showcased their work to academics and industry representatives at the Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) 2020 Livestock PhD Conference in Nottingham last week.
Both researchers have been part of a scheme which brings the industry and universities together to undertake work which benefits key sectors of the economy. The two PhD’s are funded through the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS 2) scheme supported by European Social Funds through the Welsh Government and in these cases, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is working in partnership with Bangor University and Aberystwyth University on projects which will directly benefit livestock farming.
In the final year of her research at Bangor University, Non presented her work during the first day of the conference. Titled ‘Optimised management of upland pasture for economic and environmental benefits’, Non has been looking at how upland cattle systems can increase production efficiencies, the farms financial return and helping to identify opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will help meet the agricultural sector’s emission reduction target.
“Field trials were set up at Bangor University’s farm which is a typical upland system with the aim to determine the effect of improved and unimproved upland grazed pasture on cattle performance, improved grazed pasture on cattle urine and dung composition and consequently, greenhouse gas emissions from soil following excretion” explained Non.
On the second day of the conference, Eiry Williams presented her poster on sustainable control of gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep. Eiry’s PhD is titled ‘Design and development of a targeted selective treatment (TST) strategy for nematodes during the periparturient period in ewes’.
Eiry explains that “the aim of the project is to help better advise farmers on the most suitable worm control management of adult ewes and their lambs. This work is an important factor in preventing further development of anthelmintic resistance.” Eiry is currently in her second year at Aberystwyth University.
The aim of Eiry’s PhD is to design molecular and computational modelling techniques to develop a novel targeted selective treatment strategy for controlling nematode infections in ewes during the peri-parturient period.
Non has also been presenting results of her experiments on home turf at Coleg Meirion-Dywfor, Glynllifon and Coleg Sir Gar, Gelli Aur at two events organised by HCC as part of the Red Meat Development Programme which is supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

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Education

Tesco donation puts school on fundraising path.

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Carmarthen children have held a charity ‘walkathon’ to mark the re-opening of a path around their school, made possible thanks to £4,000 from Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme.

The grant allowed Model Church in Wales School to carry out work on the path around the perimeter of the school field, which was previously off-limits to children as it was unsafe.

The school decided to mark the opening of the path with a charity walkathon in aid of the British Heart Foundation, during which the pupils raised an impressive £3,000.

The school was chosen for the top £4,000 award after Carmarthen shoppers used their blue tokens to support the school by voting for them in local Tesco stores.

Amanda Bowen-Price, Headteacher at Model Church in Wales School, said: “We are truly grateful for the funding from Tesco through the Bags of Help scheme and to everyone who took the time to vote. The funding has transformed a previously unsafe path to a fantastic resource for the whole school and the local community.

“We know that a high number of people don’t get their daily recommended steps in to keep fit and healthy, so we decided to put the new path to great use and hold a sponsored walkathon. Over 400 pupils from the school walked the equivalent of half a marathon between them, and I’m sure the £3,000 will be a great help for the British Heart Foundation.”

“The new path will be an asset not only to the school, but to the whole community,” she added. “We will be able to promote exercise and health and wellbeing activities through the use of this path.”

The Tesco Bags of Help grants, which are administered by the charity Groundwork, sees money awarded to thousands of local community projects every year.

Rhodri Evans, Tesco’s Communications Manager for Wales, said: “We are really proud of the impact Bags of Help has had in communities across Wales. Model Church in Wales School is just one of many schools across the nation which have benefitted from funding through the scheme, and we have awarded more than £5million to projects across Wales. We would encourage anyone with a project that could make a difference to their local community to find out about how Bags of Help could help them.”

To date, Bags of Help has provided more than £80million to more than 27,000 community projects across the UK.

Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, said: “Bags of Help continues to enable local communities up and down Britain to improve their local spaces and the places that matter to them.

“The diversity of projects that are being funded shows that local communities have a passion to create something great in their area. We are pleased to be able to be a part of the journey and provide support and encouragement to help local communities thrive.”

Further information is available at www.tesco.com/bagsofhelp.

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Education

New lights reduce carbon footprint

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A STATE of the art greenhouse at Aberystwyth University that is helping breed next-generation plants is itself cutting its carbon emissions by installing new LED lights
In doing so, the National Plant Phenomics Centre at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 60 tonnes per year.
The Centre is home to pioneering research work that sees biologists working with engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians to identify and develop resilient crops that can help combat the effects of climate change on agriculture, such as increased drought resistance and the ability to survive floods.
Funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the greenhouse is the only one of its kind in the UK and one of only a handful of similar facilities in the world.
It provides open access to its technology nationally and internationally, and here Aberystwyth University scientists are contributing to global food-security by breeding ‘smart’ plants, better adapted to the climate of the future.
Dr Fiona Corke, Smarthouse Manager at the National Plant Phenomics Centre at IBERS, said: “Plant phenomics is a science that can change our lives by responding to and predicting future environmental needs. We are very lucky that the Centre features a computer-controlled greenhouse, where plants are tended and measured automatically daily.
“We then take that data and use it to identify what genes within the plants have caused the different traits, so we can selectively breed stronger plants with the features we want to make them more resilient to conditions caused by climate change, such as drought or even flash flooding.
“It is therefore vital that our Centre is not adding to the world’s carbon footprint itself, as that goes completely against the principles of work we aspire to here. By installing these LED lights, we are contributing to help Aberystwyth University’s effort to limit global warming.”
96 of the original lights in the robotic greenhouse have now been replaced with LED lights that provide the correct wavelength for plant growth, particularly during winter months.
As well as significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions the new lights will also cut the Centre’s annual electricity bill by around £17,000.
Dewi Day, Aberystwyth University’s Sustainability Advisor, added: “We have recently invested in two innovative green energy lighting projects on our Gogerddan campus. This means we will now see a saving of 12% on previous annual electricity running costs for the site and will save over 100 tonnes of Carbon dioxide – significantly reducing the facility’s carbon footprint.
“Whilst the University has already achieved substantial reductions in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions over the last 10 years, it is now developing a new Carbon Management Strategy in-line with the Welsh Government’s ambitious target of a Carbon Neutral Public Sector by 2030.”

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