MSc Sustainability Transitions students are helping the University to become more sustainable

MSc students took part in a catering workshop to review and redevelop the University of Aberdeen's sustainable food policy, addressing various issues such as menus and ingredients, waste and plastics, and communication of sustainable practices.

The MSc Sustainability Transitions programme is not only a platform to acquire academic knowledge, but also, or even most importantly, to learn how to make a concrete impact and help make the world a more sustainable place. The first such opportunity for MSc Sustainability Transitions students appeared before Easter when the MSc cohort was invited by the University to take part in a Catering Workshop and share their expertise with other participants, including six members of staff from Catering and Estates.

The workshop was organised by Mr Fraser Lovie (Policy Adviser) and Mr Calum Maclachlan (Head of Catering & Commercial Services) and its main aim was to review and redevelop the University of Aberdeen’s sustainable food policy. Students had a task to deal with three interrelated topics: 1) Menus, ingredients and produce, 2) Waste, disposables and plastics, 3) Communication and marketing of sustainable practices. The 3-hour workshop generated numerous ideas which will inform the University’s new Sustainable Food Statement and a number of further decisions and policies.

Not only did the event prove to be an exciting chance for MSc ST students to convert their theoretical knowledge and the experience gained so far into concrete actions and recommendations, but it was also a useful opportunity for the University to capitalise on the knowledge and expertise of the students who are being trained to become future sustainability leaders. While the students were encouraged to hear of the University’s existing commitments and ambitious plans to go further, they had lots of useful feedback on ways to improve communication and plenty of ideas about how to engage customers and where existing practice could be enhanced. Catering also took the opportunity to showcase a range of excellent vegan dishes for lunch.

“I was delighted to see the students’ commitment to the workshop. They are a very good and strong cohort which I enjoy working with very much and I am glad to see how strong a desire they have to help make a change and promote sustainability. I am grateful to Fraser Lovie and Calum Mclachlan for appreciating MSc students’ expertise and creating this opportunity for them to make a valuable contribution to the University’s sustainable policy. It was a very useful learning experience both in academic and more practical terms.” (Dr Piotr Niewiadomski, MSc ST Programme Director)

“Over the past five-years we have worked very successfully with a number of individual MSc students on dissertation projects. Having been approached by some members of the MSc Sustainability Transitions cohort with catering suggestions, we identified a unique opportunity to work collaboratively and to involve the entire group in this discussion. We hope to be able to run similar workshops on other sustainability issues with future cohorts.” (Mr Fraser Lovie, Policy Adviser in Estates & Facilities)

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