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Work Experience: The University of Derby

Cohort 3 BGFers Charlotte and George Creed completed their BGF work placement last summer with the Sustainability Team at the University of Derby. Read on for some of Charlotte's reflections about her week...

Why did you choose the University of Derby for your work placement?

The University is a large organisation which is involved with a large number of people, including students and staff, as well as the further community. As I am interested in environmental management and sustainability, I wanted to find out more about how they achieve this on such a large scale.

What experiences did you want to gain from your placement?

I wanted to see how environmental management fits into the overall daily workings of the university and learn about what measures are already taken. I also wanted to see how environmental strategies are developed and improved to continue sustainability in the future.

What did you do during your week?

For the first half of the week I was with Rosemary, who works in environmental management within the university. We visited many different departments of the university to discover how they undertake environmental management, despite it not being their area of expertise. From the catering management, to the procurement, to the printing, there is lots being done within each area to help the university with environmental management and their goal of becoming a greener university. For example, in printing, they carefully select the companies they source their paper from, in order to lessen their environmental impact, as well as using less plastic and using a system to manage the amount of documents printed.

In the second half of the week, I was with Helen who is the Quality and Compliance and Estates manager, as well as being involved in environmental management at the university. We started by walking round the Kedleston Road and Markeaton Street sites, auditing the bin areas. After that, I went to a meeting with Trees for Derby who wanted to discuss ways the university could assist them with their goals. I took minutes for the meeting and later typed these up. We also thought of ways the current waste campaign can be updated to fit with the aims of the university. On the final day I sat in on a meeting between the majority of the Estate employees, which occurs twice a week and they discuss anything that needs to be done and what issues have occurred.

What were the best parts of the week?

I found that visiting different departments within the university and discovering how they operate was particularly interesting. It was good to see how they all work separately and together to keep the university running.

What was most interesting?

I found it particularly interesting to see how the university links with the wider community in terms of sustainability. I went to a meeting about making people more aware of climate change within different faith groups. I was surprised to see so many organisations present, from researchers at the university to Derby Climate Coalition and Extinction Rebellion, all with a genuine interest in planning activities in and around the university.

I also found it interesting to learn how people’s work has changed as environmental management has become a larger part of daily life and how it is not always possible due to rules and regulations and costs.

What do you want to find more about?

I would like to find out how other similar organisations undertake environmental management and how this compares to the University of Derby’s actions.

Final thoughts?

I have enjoyed my time spent at the university and have learned a lot about how it is able to function as an enjoyable place for students and as a successful part of the community. I have learnt a lot about how the university carries out its environmental management and I admire its aim to become an even greener university.


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