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Win for York St John University’s Living Lab air quality project at 2022 Green Gown Awards

Published: 09 November 2022

  •   Awards
Green Gown Award with York St John name printed on
Ecological justice project at York St John University praised for student employability and engagement success.

This year York St John University launched its first ever Living Lab project, which raised the profile of ecological justice and sustainability through collaboration and student engagement.   

The pilot project was declared winner of the ‘Tomorrow’s Employees’ category at last night’s  Green Gown Awards 2022, which celebrate sustainability initiatives and projects from across the UK higher education sector. 

Funded by the University’s Institute for Social Justice and led by the Ecological Justice Research Group, ‘Living Lab: Learning at the Junction’ engaged over 250 students from nine different academic subjects on the issue of air pollution in York. 

York St John University’s main teaching campus is located on a busy city centre junction known for its poor air quality. The project focused on this junction and the local challenges it presents, challenges which are on our doorstep but have a global relevance. 

Employability was a core theme in the project, as it opened opportunities for students to challenge themselves by engaging in multidisciplinary collaborations and public events.  

Judges of the Green Gown Awards commented: “We were impressed by the creativity and diversity of this innovative project. We appreciated the civic involvement of various stakeholders and the engagement of students into local issues, bringing multi-disciplinary ideas together to tackle a prevalent issue.” 

Energy and Environmental Projects Officer Sarah Williams, who collected the award on behalf of York St John University, said: “This project demonstrates that every discipline across the whole University has a role to play in tackling global issues and making the world a better place. Through the project, our estates team have formed lasting connections with academics and students alike to open new avenues for action.” 

York St John University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Karen Bryan, said: “The award is a valuable recognition of our continued commitment to sustainability and social good as a university community. It reflects how dedicated our students and staff are to tackling the real-life issues facing our society.  

“The Living Lab is a great example of what is possible when universities come together with local organisations with a common purpose to improve and support the communities in which we live and work. Many congratulations to everyone involved. 

Read more about this year’s Green Gown Award winners and finalists.  

Building on the success of last semester's project, the new Living Lab, 'Feeding the Campus' is running year-round with a focus on transforming the campus food system. Now incorporating a total of 25 modules from all five Schools of the University, the 2022-23 Living Lab's events so far have included shared meals, talks and visits to local food innovators, film screenings, artist workshops and exhibitions. Read more about the latest project on the Institute for Social Justice blog page.  

Dr Catherine Heinemeyer, Senior Research Associate in Ecological Justice and project lead, said: “We are so proud to develop this initiative and bring a real sense of empowerment in tackling ecological justice concerns, and to invite our students to see themselves as climate game-changers.” 

York St John University continues to work towards its sustainability goals, and its commitment to becoming a greener University. Find out more about the University’s 2030 targets, as well as student involvement in sustainability on the Sustainability at York St John University webpage.  



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