Students pitch up for the chance to become Green Dragons
Members of the local community joined students, alumni and staff at City University London for the launch of Green Dragons. The project, which is funded by the Students' Green Fund, is designed to increase engagement with environmental and sustainability issues.
Green Dragons encourages students and staff to come up with ideas for how to improve environmental or social sustainability and then helps them to make it a reality. The first stage in the process is for them to pitch their idea and gather support from City students, staff and the local community. Successful projects could receive between £500 and £5,000 in funding.
Among the projects presented on the night were a student book exchange devised by Jemiliat Salami (Cass Business School); a mobile-phone recycling ATM proposed by recent graduate Justin Tung, which recycles old mobile phones for instant cash; and a soil-less growing system known as hydroponics, which Hamish Haghayeghi (School of Informatics) is hoping to take to Rwanda with the help of a charity which supports survivors of the genocide.
Emily Thornberry MP for Islington South and Finsbury attended the launch and commented:
"We all know we cannot carry on as we are and there has to be a fundamental change in how we treat our planet. It starts with the next generation and the enthusiasm of the students to tackle these issues is brilliant. I am very pleased to see that the City University London students are intending to take their ideas out to our community so that we can work together on tackling the most important challenge of our age."
Emily's own idea for making a difference was to suggest a mobile phone app which lets users keep track of the food mileage of ingredients they intend to cook with.
City University London's Students' Union (CULSU) project was one of those selected by the National Union of Students (NUS) to receive a portion of £5 million provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Giulio Folino is President of the Students' Union:
"We hope that Green Dragons will become a permanent feature at City with long-term benefits for the local community. We want to bring together students and staff with experts in industry and government to help get projects off the ground."
Professor Ken Grattan, Chair of City's Sustainability Committee, welcomed the Green Dragon's initiative: "I'll be encouraging City staff to not only act as mentors to the projects but also to look at how they can truly embed sustainability within our curriculum."
The Students' Green Fund aims to engage with 50,000 students nationally, and embed sustainability into the core purpose of higher education across England. It is anticipated that the project will result in a minimum of 100 tonnes of CO2 reduction, along with a 30% increase in the number of students actively involved in sustainability projects.