Survey to guide UNE in environmental sustainability role

Published 25 March 2009


The Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England, Professor Alan Pettigrew, has launched a University-wide survey seeking the ideas of staff members on the role of UNE in the practice and promotion of environmental sustainability.

The online survey of UNE staff, launched last week, is called “Perceptions, aspirations and expectations of environmental sustainability: What are we doing in higher education for creating a sustainable future?” In launching it, Professor Pettigrew encouraged staff members to have their say in a survey designed “to engage us all in our important commitment to sustainability”. He said that the outcomes would “inform future sustainable practices, research and education at UNE”.

The Chancellor of UNE, the Hon. Richard Torbay MP, is urging all members of the UNE community to participate in the online survey. “A sense of ownership and involvement is an important component of any successful strategy,” he said. “The more people engage and put forward their ideas the more sustainable and effective the plan will be on campus and within the wider community.”

Dr Robyn Bartel, Chair of the UNE team charged with implementing the international Talloires Declaration for Sustainability, to which UNE is a signatory, said that the response to the survey had already been exciting. “It’s an anonymous survey, but already the responses show that there are many environmentally aware and concerned people at UNE,” Dr Bartel said.

“Several years ago, UNE demonstrated its commitment to environmental sustainability by becoming a signatory to the Talloires Declaration, an international agreement for the promotion of all things ‘sustainable’ in higher education,” Dr Bartel explained. “Since then, the Talloires team at UNE has been successful in obtaining a number of large grants to support the University’s research, teaching, and general operations with regard to sustainability. The team’s latest project is a study of sustainable practices at UNE which will inform decisions about future sustainability initiatives across the campus and the region. The current survey is part of that study.”

“The purpose of the survey is to put together a picture of what UNE staff members are doing for environmental sustainability, what they would like to achieve, the barriers that prevent their expectations being met, and the support required to meet their aspirations towards environmental sustainability,” said the project leader, Dr Susen Smith.  “The results of the survey will inform sustainable practices at UNE, but also tell us more generally about what people want to do at home and at work to reduce their impact on the environment. The results will be of interest to anyone hoping to find out what people are doing – and want to do – to better their environment.”

Alongside Dr Bartel and Dr Smith, UNE’s Talloires Declaration Implementation Committee includes Dr Mike Littledyke, Dr Darren Ryder (pictured here with Dr Smith), and Dr Joy Hardy. The committee members pointed out that the project would not have gone ahead without the work of Carol Davies as research assistant, the funding received from the Faculty of The Professions, and additional support from Facilities Management Services. In constructing the survey, the team said, they had been fortunate in being able to consult Chris Ipkendanz, UNE’s newly appointed Environment Officer, who hopes to use the survey results in implementing sustainability initiatives across campus.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show (from left) Chris Ipkendanz, Dr Mike Littledyke, Dr Robyn Bartel, Dr Darren Ryder, Dr Susen Smith, Carol Davies and Dr Joy Hardy.