University of Leeds students tackle debate on a sustainable future

16th February 2017

At the inaugural student Sustainable Futures conference in February over 100 University of Leeds students came together to debate and share future solutions to sustainability matters.

The conference was the first of its kind to be held in Leeds and aimed to bring sustainability to the forefront of students’ minds through cross-discipline conversations. On the day students presented research to tackle regional, national and international societal challenges.

In his opening address to conference attendees, Professor Tom Ward, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Student Education said: “Today is about celebrating and nurturing what we are doing. This agenda will shape your future, be part of the sustainability society.”

Discussions on the day targeted projects in carbon reduction, urban development, challenges in healthcare, social equality, policy and governance, international trade, sustainable energy, the circular economy and food security.  This multi-disciplinary theme encouraged collaboration and greater understanding of future sustainability challenges across multiple disciplines.

In her speech to close the conference, Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research & Innovation commented: “The University is committed to embed sustainability in our research and innovation activities and we are committed to making a positive impact on society.
“It’s really important to share and celebrate the research our students are doing in sustainability. Real innovation and impact often comes from working together across different disciplines. Venture out of your disciplines, speak to others, challenge your own ways of thinking and make a real impact across Leeds, the UK and the world.”

Students’ achievements were acknowledged through an awards ceremony at the end of the day.

Clare Martynski, awarded the certificate for Most Original Concept for her presentation on The Role of Arts in Catalysing Action towards a Sustainable Future said about being chosen a winner: “I'm thrilled to have won an award for Most Original Concept at the inaugural Student Sustainability Conference. Sustainability is an issue that involves all aspects of society and the arts have a really important role to play.  It was an absolute honour to present my work alongside such an inspiring group of researchers, all working towards a more positive and equal future.

Today, perhaps more than ever before, we need events like this to connect us together. I'm looking forward to an even bigger event next year!”

It is hoped that students inspired by this conference will take the next steps by integrating their learning and ideas into final year projects and dissertations.

Visit for a summary and photos of the event. 
Students work at the Poster Exhibition, a key part of the conference Clare Martynski being presented with her certificate by Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research & Innovation