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Capturing positive outcomes from students and alumni with a focus on relationship building


May 23, 2024

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2023-24 Host partnership webinar by UCEM

Responsible Futures is a supported change programme delivered by SOS-UK, partnering universities and colleges with students to embed sustainability in all student learning.

On 14thMarch, University College of Estate Management delivered the first of two Responsible Futures host partnership webinars taking place in the23/24 academic year. The session focused on different methods of capturing positive outcomes for students and alumni from education for sustainable development (ESD), with a focus on the importance of relationship building.


Student Engagement

Following an introduction from UCEM about their work on Responsible Futures, the partnership showcased their efforts to increase student engagement through a series of sustainability student initiatives including:

  • Student voice opportunities– UCEM recognises the importance of student voice and encourages their students to get involved in opportunities such as SOS-UK’s sustainability skills survey and Responsible Futures programme to put forward their views and to feel a sense of ownership around shaping UCEM’s sustainability work.
  • Two dedicated Climate and Social Action weeks – events, workshops and initiatives for students, staff and alumni to come together and learn about sustainability
  • Students and sustainability webpage– information about opportunities for students, staff and alumni at UCEM to get involved with sustainability, and to keep updated regarding UCEM’s progress on their sustainability work.
  • Student communications platform -  platform for students to connect with their student officers through a sustainability forum, sustainability WhatsApp group and/or via email.
  • Student Officers and Ambassadors for EDI – UCEM’s student officers lead on and deliver their sustainability work at the institution and to the student community, whilst ensuring their sustainability work is inclusive.
  • Inclusion of both built environment and non-built environment topics in formal education–Students tend to focus solely on their studies and spend less time engaging in extracurricular activities. By incorporating sustainability-related topics into their formal education, students will now have the opportunity to understand the importance and practical applications of sustainability within their learning.

UCEM works to understand how, and celebrate the way these initiatives result in positive outcomes for students. UCEM captured feedback from students in a number of ways:

  • Disseminating the SOS-UK sustainability skills survey to understand student experiences and perceptions of sustainability in learning
  • Student ambassadors sharing their experiences on social media
  • Articles capturing student engagement with sustainability activities, including student motivation behind their involvement

UCEM showcased examples of capturing positive outcomes through their student engagement work. For example, following the journey of one of their student officers, Donna, who contributed to UCEM’s sustainability work. She has engaged with sustainability through supporting Responsible Futures at UCEM and her involvement at UCEM will be captured through a case study. Her achievements so far involve creating and delivering webinars, creating activities for UCEM’s climate and social action weeks and much more.


Alumni Engagement

The next part of the session focused on the work UCEM’s alumni engagement. For example:

  • UCEM global community – an alumni exclusive social platform
  • Organising in-person and online alumni events
  • Monthly alumni newsletter – including sustainability updates on the built environment, and from UCEM
  • Producing case studies and sharing alumni successes of their personal and professional achievements

UCEM introduced case studies of their alumni engagement and revealed how they interact with their alumni. For example, Jason a proud UCEM alumni and previous Responsible Futures student auditor, has stayed connected with UCEM even after graduation. He has shared his invaluable insights of sustainability at UCEM and how it has shaped his successful career in an online case study.

Image from UCEM's webinar on a breakdown of their Alumni Lifelong Influencing Plan (ALIP)

UCEM shared their Alumni Lifelong Influencing Plan (ALIP) to show how they have embedded sustainability through different areas of engagement with their alumni. Their Alumni Lifelong Influencing Plan (ALIP) encompasses 5 objectives aimed at ongoing engagement from alumni, students and staff. These objectives consist of opportunities for students to deliver on sustainability events and initiatives, case studies and more.

ALIP centers on lifelong learning, aiming at empowering students with the necessary tools and knowledge to become futures leaders in sustainability. Engagement is one of the main objectives, and includes feedback opportunities for UCEM to capture students’ experiences.


Exchanging Ideas

In the final part of the session, participants discussed how their own institutions are developing relationships with their staff and students for sustainability. Participants emphasised the importance of relationship building by shedding light on both the opportunities and challenges it presents. For example, one participant mentioned implementing more training and awareness building opportunities for students and/or student groups, however getting students engaged in those opportunities can be challenging as many students are primarily focused on their studies.

Another participant mentioned the challenge of building connections with students and staff at a big institution, where the number of students can be overwhelming and discouraging for some to participate in online discussions or sessions. This can lead to lack of trust/participation when attending in-person sessions however, they highlighted the events are still worth organising especially for distance learning institutions.

We would like to thank UCEM for facilitating the webinar and sharing good practice, and for everyone who joined and participated.

To learn more about Responsible Futures and how to get involved, check out our website.