Katie Hargrave-Smith is in her final year studying for a BA in Environmental Social Sciences.
“It feels strange now to think back to nearly two years ago, nervously sitting in a small room on campus with no more than fifteen people, listening to Lecturer in Conservation Science, Dr Charlie Gardner, talk about a new initiative with the University of Kent’s Sustainability Team. Charlie, along with a former colleague, had taken up the roles of ‘Sustainability Champions’ but felt that it wouldn’t be fair for them to represent the whole School when we had such a wide range of people dedicated to sustainability.
“Therefore, they sent out an open invitation to anyone who wanted to join them in coming up with sustainability initiatives. And so, there I sat, a shy first year, as the School of Anthropology and Conservation’s (SAC) Sustainability Working Group (SWG) began to take form.
“I would never have imagined then that I would be comfortable sitting in a room with academics, PhD students, support staff and fellow undergraduates, joining in a discussion and being listened to as an equal. I would never have guessed that I would assist in composing a written Declaration of Climate and Environmental Emergency. There was no way I would have been willing to stand up and speak in front of a lecture theatre so full that people were sat on the stairs at the public event where the Declaration was announced. These are only some of the opportunities that I have been afforded by being a member of the SWG.
“On Monday 21st September, 2020, myself and Gwili Gibbon, studying for a PhD in Biodiversity Management at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), chaired the first SWG meeting for this academic year. What began as 15 people sat in a small room has grown exponentially, with over 80 people attending this first meeting. When it comes to the SWG, the more the merrier, as this just means more voices added to the call for change. If you join, you will have the opportunity to work on projects you’re passionate about, whether it be topics such as food sustainability or the importance of green spaces for mental health. If there isn’t already a project initiated on your topic, you can bring it up at a meeting and get one set up. You will be able to say that you contributed to helping SAC reach the sustainability targets set out in our Declaration.
“I am now in my final year of university, hopefully graduating next summer. The Sustainability Working Group will forever be one the highlights of my time here, and it could be one of yours too.
“I invite you to join us and help make our small portion of the world just that little bit better.”
Dr Charlie Gardner is now Sustainability Lead for the School. This new position is a sign of the School’s commitment to achieving our Declaration targets. He is a point of contact for the group and will play an administrative role, helping us progress and reporting on that progress.
All of our information and communication will be shared on Basecamp, a project management platform. If you would like to join, you can do so by contacting Charlie and requesting to be added to the forum. Training on how to use Basecamp can be provided upon request,
We will be having weekly meetings on Wednesday afternoons, hosted on Microsoft Teams. These could just be informal chats to catch up with what everyone is doing or we could split into breakout rooms to work on individual projects.