The University of New England and Sustainability

Did you visit the Sustainability Stall at Market Day? At Open Day? Well, just in case you missed us, here is some information about sustainability at UNE.

Firstly, what is Sustainability? Some people think of it as economic sustainability, and being able to operate a business, knowing that it will offer jobs and security in the long term. Other people think of it as environmental sustainability, and as humans behaving in a way that does not place undue pressure on the natural resources that sustain us. The truth is sustainability is all of these things, and more. It also means giving the Earth “a fair go”, recognizing natural limits, our own limits and working to our strengths to address our weaknesses.

Secondly, what is UNE’s involvement in sustainability? The University has been a signatory to the Talloires Declaration for Sustainability, an international agreement for sustainability in higher education since 2005. Winning a Green Globe award from the NSW government in 2010 for its 10 year performance in Sustainability was great recognition for the university’s achievements and performance.

There are many people at UNE, including both staff and students, who are committed to sustainability and helping build a better world for all of us. You may already be working in sustainability or enrolled in a degree that studies sustainability, such as the Bachelor of Sustainability, or the Bachelor of Environmental Science, or Peace Studies or Environmental Advocacy, or the MBA. But nursing and medical students are studying sustainability too, for health is a central concern for the social sustainability of our communities, particularly in rural areas. And education students will be studying sustainability as part of the curriculum that they must teach, but education also is critical to the sustainability of our communities, and our species.

This is part of the teaching that UNE provides, but staff and students at UNE also do research into sustainability, projects which span the arts, sciences, business, education, health, law and more. Students at UNE are researching carbon markets and storage, coal seam gas, preparing plans for coastal areas to manage climate change: the aspects of sustainability are endless. Through this research UNE students and academics have a growing understanding of the ways in which human wellbeing and social welfare are linked to environmental health. They are using this appreciation to advise policy makers and assist non-government organizations and private landholders and businesses to manage both our environment and human affairs for the betterment of both.

Sustainability is also about the way we teach and research, as well as the what, and how, the university campus is managed. Recent initiatives include the electronic bikes for hire and electronic marking of assignments, reducing paper usage. The university is also making the campus environment more conducive for learning and working, as well as more welcoming for biodiversity. If you have been down to SportUNE or the creeklands lately you will have seen the hundreds of milk cartons along Dumaresq Creek. No, not rubbish. Each milk carton houses a native tree or shrub planted by students, staff and community volunteers over summer and autumn this year. UNE Landcare and the Armidale Urban River Care Group (AURG), in consultation with the University, have been in charge of this project. A calendar of planting activities have transformed the creeklands from being weed infested and looking slightly despondent into what will be in future a haven for biodiversity and a riparian environment of which we can all be proud.

“Tree plant the creeklands” is the theme of this year’s student poster competition. We hold this comp every year to promote the sustainability events around campus. One year students designed posters promoting new recycling bins. Another year the theme was the new water bubblers. The prize pool is $1000 and the competition is open to all UNE students, individuals or in groups, undergraduates and postgraduates, with a limit of one entry per student/group. Entries must be a single A4 promotional poster to encourage volunteers to plant and maintain the trees down at the creeklands. Entries close first day of Trimester 2, Monday 1 July 2013.

Entries will be assessed by an expert judging panel whose decision will be final and the winners announced on Monday 22nd July 2013. For further information please see:

You can check out previous competition entries at

…and join our email list to be notified of all sustainability happenings – including student competitions and tree planting events



- Robyn Bartel

Staff Profile: Dr. Adam J. Rock

Letters to the Editors - May 2013