Influence! 2019 - A conference to remember

7th July 2019

This year, the EAUC 23rd Annual Conference was held at the University of Manchester on the 18th-20th June. Its theme, ‘Influence’, comes at a time when sustainability issues are increasingly at the forefront of mainstream media, following scientific research publications outlining imminent climate catastrophe and a growing movement of young people determined to wake the world up to this.
‘Influence!’ recognised the role universities and colleges can, and should, play in this landscape, and provided inspiration and insight to change minds and policy.
The event saw hosted over 200 attendees from the further and higher education sector, including academics, researchers, students, campus managers and of course sustainability leaders. They explored the role they can play in creating sustainable campuses, curricula, leadership, and a sustainable future.

Making Sustainability Just Good Business
EAUC Board member and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability at UWE, Bristol, James Longhurst, chaired the Conference. He said: “We were delighted to welcome attendees to the University of Manchester for the 2019 EAUC Annual Conference. Over the course of the last 6 months, the EAUC has launched various guides and tools designed to support members influence hearts, minds and institutional policy, and it felt fitting that the Conference embraced this theme.
“Young people are becoming more and more vocal; they want institutions to make a socially responsible and sustainable contribution to the world. They want them to commit to carbon neutrality, to divest from fossil fuels and to equip them with the skills needed to be resilient global citizens. The sessions and speakers challenged delegates to be more innovative and go further in their position as influencers in further and higher education.”

Sharing Best Practice
The three-day event kicked off with a brilliant Members’ Day, featuring workshops on the psychology of influence, building your influence, and the University of Manchester’s much applauded Sustainability Challenge. The remainder of the Conference carried the theme forward.
The second day started with a plenary session on carbon targets chaired by Phil Korbel from Carbon Literacy Project, featuring the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham; University of Manchester’s Activities & Development Officer, Lizzy Haughton and academics from Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Manchester. They explored the 2038 carbon target for Greater Manchester including the steps to make it the “greenest city region in the UK”, but most importantly, the role of universities and colleges in accelerating social change. They all echoed their critical role in leading the debate and demonstrating leadership in the sector through an agenda of integrity that is not politically driven.
Another plenary session featured Dr Alison Green, National Director at Scientists Warning and Academic Lead of Extinction Rebellion, who was joined by Maeve Cohen, Director of Rethinking Economics. Their enthusiastic and thought-provoking discussion about the collective actions that must be taken across sectors to tackle climate breakdown and ecological collapse, have sparked debate and was very well received by the audience. Some imminent actions they suggested are to encourage a critical shift of the curriculum and having the education sector leading and being the intellectual home to key disciplines and therefore, avoid having “young people in a position to inherit a spent planet”.

Our final inspirational keynote was delivered by MP Mary Creagh, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee and Lucy Siegle, Environmental Journalist and Broadcaster who reinforced the need for individual actions in order to galvanize change. Reflecting on the relationship between the Western overconsumption culture and the climate crisis, they talked about the need to demand higher governmental action and to make sustainability a priority across sectors, especially through sustainable procurement.

A range of resources from the plenary sessions are available here

Peer to Peer Learning

The conference also offered a range of workshops and breakout sessions, all streamed around the theme of influence. You can now find the materials available from these sessions here

You can also find the videos from the plenary sessions below:

Greater Manchester's Carbon Target
One Planet Prosperity by Terry A' Hearn

Influencing Your Organisational Leadership
Influential Disruption


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