Volume 8 Number 5
May 14 - June 9 2012
Last month, the University celebrated the opening of its Campus Sustainability Centre, which includes new space for the Office for Environmental Programs (OEP).
The centre will provide a home for the many sustainability activities at the University, and is part of a shared agenda at Melbourne reflecting the importance of sustainability activities and thinking.
Universities are well placed to work towards a sustainable future, with staff and students often sharing a sense of urgency around a better environmental future.
The Campus Sustainability Centre showcases research projects around sustainability, climate change and the environment more broadly, from experiments with algal fuels and geothermal energy to work on ‘green roofs’ which support planted vegetation.
Alongside this important research effort, work in sustainability extends to its teaching and learning.
The Office for Environmental Program’s flagship degree, the Master of Environment, is an interdisciplinary degree in which lecturers from 10 different faculties teach subjects. No other program at the University has such a level of buy-in. The range of subjects and the breadth of the curriculum allow students to pursue their passions while accessing the skills they need to be experts in their fields.
This year, there are 127 new students enrolled in the Masters of Environment, a record number that shows the demand for postgraduate study in this area. The OEP draws students from around 50 nations and every continent except Antarctica. The OEP will make excellent use of its purpose-designed space.
Sustainability considerations now permeate all facets of the University, as part of its operations as well as research, teaching and learning.
The University has undertaken a raft of new initiatives for how we manage waste, from new rubbish bins for mixed recycling, and a preference for renewable packaging, to changes at the Student Union, where diners can now use washable plates instead of disposable ones.
The University community is also encouraged to participate in sustainability awareness-raising programs including the bi-annual ride-to-work breakfast and joining Earth Hour by turning off all appliances and lights before leaving work. This year saw the University’s energy consumption fall by 18.78 percent during Earth Hour weekend compared with normal weekends.
These may seem like small changes, but with about 49 000 students and 9000 staff, the University is, on a typical day, the fifth largest city in Victoria: local change, even in small ways, adds up to a big difference.