Our student volunteer, Elizabeth Tiffany, shares her thoughts on working for the Department on the Sustainability Awards.
My name is Elizabeth Tiffany and I am an Environmental Sustainability MSc student.
I started volunteering with the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability as a social researcher for one of their events last year, which focused on food waste, and since then I’ve been involved in the Sustainability Awards as a project assistant, auditor, and event volunteer.
The auditor role was by far the most independent position I’ve filled. My experience as an auditor for the Sustainability Awards came directly after working with the SPSS team as a project assistant, so I understood the awards and the tasks departments strive to meet.
The auditor training takes the whole experience a step further by training you to go into departments to review the work they’ve done and the evidence they’ve submitted. In doing so, student auditors receive a recognised industry standard accreditation in auditing through the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.
I visited the Old Moray House School of Education at the Holyrood campus to audit their work towards the Bronze award. I had the chance to review the submitted evidence the morning before and so was prepared to ask directed questions about how the tasks had been completed. I also took pictures to preserve best practices.
Although I was apprehensive to take the role of inspector for the first time, I had a very constructive experience. For example, the School of Education is a perfect example of how many initiatives are already under way, but through the Awards more staff and students have come to know, understand, and participate in these efforts. The Sustainability Awards process takes advantage of the University’s vast human resources, allowing many actors to use their creativity and enthusiasm to contribute to SRS’s goals.
I participated in this opportunity because it provided a practical setting to demonstrate the skills I have learned as part of my Masters programme and because it provided useful ‘real-world’ experience of putting theory into practice, giving me a good base to build on when I try to move into a career in sustainability at the end of the year.
Integrating social responsibility and sustainability into practical matters is essential. The SRS Department performs highly at the difficult task of cross-departmental collaboration on these topics. Through their work, staff and students from throughout the University are contributing to SRS’s goals and facilitating the transition from knowledge to implementation.
I’m proud of my university’s SRS Department. Its existence shows that the University is committed to investing in and implementing the practicalities of sustainability, and is dedicated to improving wellbeing both locally and globally. I am most impressed with the university community’s eagerness to work together and improve the university. Volunteering opportunities such as the project assistant and auditor roles are so much fun and really give students that chance to make personal connections with staff as we all work together!