University hosts climate change summit for region’s youth

Wed 01 February, 2023
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The University of Bedfordshire welcomed students and teachers from over a dozen local schools to a climate change summit this term in collaboration with the Science Learning Partnership.

This event comes following a successful few months for Bedfordshire’s sustainability agenda, after it was awarded second place in the UK in the 2022/23 People and Planet University Green League and was ranked as one of the top scoring eco-friendly universities in Uswitch’s 2022 study.

The conference was delivered by Aspire Higher – part of the University of Bedfordshire’s wider Collaborative Projects team – with academics from the University’s sustainability forum facilitating and delivering talks and workshops to help students better understand climate change and sustainability. It was also held in partnership with the Science Learning Partnership for Hertfordshire, Essex, Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes, which provides subject-specific CDP opportunities (Continuous Professional Development)   for primary and secondary schools across the region, focussing on high-quality STEM teaching provisions.

Alongside the in-depth and informative workshops, attendees from 17 schools across Hertfordshire, Essex, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes were also treated to a ‘marketplace’ style exhibition, allowing them to meet and greet sustainability representatives from a number of exciting businesses, including Microsoft, STEMPoint East and Unilever.

Dr Helen Connolly, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, and Dr Diana Pritchard, Principal Curriculum Developer with the Academy for Learning & Teaching Excellence, delivered the welcoming keynote speech and hosted an interactive session using MIT-developed software to explore the impacts of different activities on the climate. Dr James Bishop, Senior Lecturer in Construction Management and Building Technology, also worked with students during a session where he encouraged them to question what motivates people to use less energy.

Speaking about the successful summit, Dr Pritchard said: “Involvement in this activity is an integral way that the University can engage with local communities and showcase our sector-recognised practices in sustainability. This has been evidenced recently by our position in the People & Planet University League results.”

Mr Morgan, Head of Geography at Bedford-based Mark Rutherford School, added: “The whole day was a resounding success and it really had our students thinking about the challenges and potential opportunities that climate change poses. The day was well organised and introduced the students to a range of different voices and players in the field.

“The expert-led workshops really allowed the students to think critically about the issues and their role in making a better future. I would thoroughly recommend any school thinking of coming to the next conference to attend and participate. Our students had a wonderful time and gained much from the visit – hopefully this will then lead to positive changes being made!”

Claire Ruthven, Lead Practitioner with the Science Learning Partnership, commented: “We were thrilled to be working with the University again for the annual Bedfordshire Student Climate Change Summit, a highlight of the school calendar. It was so fantastic to see students and teachers coming together with the academics and array of industry partners to learn more about this important issue. All the students and teachers went away inspired and enthused, with lots of ideas of how to help with the climate change crisis. We look forward to doing it all again next year!”


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