University of Gloucestershire SU runs successful pilot for sustainability themed placement programme
29th September 2015
University of Gloucestershire Students’ Union delivered Big Green Gap Year (BiGGY) Summer Placements 2015 in July and August 2015 piloting a sustainability themed placements programme. This built on the original idea of a community engagement/ citizen service lobbied for by James Derounian, senior lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire. Thanks to funding from the National Union of Students’ Green Fund, the University of Gloucestershire Students’ Union was able to conduct a feasibility study in 2014 and deliver a pilot for BiGGY during 2015 as one of 6 strands for the Greener Gloucestershire Project. Drawing on feedback from placement hosts and participants, and reflections and experiences of the BiGGY Coordinator, the successes and challenges of this pilot have been evaluated to inform future delivery of the BiGGY programme.
Working on sustainability themed projects or work assignments during their placements, the contributions participants made to Gloucestershire organisations supported them to become agents of positive change (social, environmental and economic) whilst gaining employability skills and bridging the gap between school and university thus fulfilling the BiGGY vision. All placement hosts stated that the BiGGY participants added value to their organisations; that they would recommend BiGGY to other organisations and they would take on future participants.
Participants explicitly commented on the deepening of their sustainability understanding, knowledge and skills as a result of the training and experience gained throughout their BiGGY experience. This, combined with the early integration into university life, demonstrates BiGGY’s role in promoting transformative learning for sustainability to support development of forward thinking, engaged learners who will become proactive members of their universities.