Community engagement

Heriot-Watt University's Sustainability Engagement Programme aims to start a conversation about sustainability so that our university community can take action to address the climate crisis. Staff, students and external communities will be supported and empowered to become advocates for a more sustainable future.

Engagement programmes are currently being co-developed with student and staff communities in the first phase of our community engagement plan. Some of our activities are explored further below, please get in touch with SustainableHWU@hw.ac.uk if you have ideas you would like to share.

Celebrating our staff!

New staff awards to celebrate contributions towards our sustainability initiatives

The Sustainability Champion Award will join the existing award categories within our Celebrating Our People Awards to celebrate outstanding efforts made throughout our community by individuals or teams to champion a sustainable future through leading by example.

The Sustainable Futures Award will be a new award category within the Principal’s Research Impact and Engagement Awards, recognising teams with outstanding achievement, innovation and creativity in finding research impact through the application of new technologies and approaches to sustainability challenges.

Both awards seek to recognise and celebrate the variety of approaches that can be taken to support and enable our community to become more sustainable, whether through changing everyday habits to reduce our environmental impact or through pioneering technological advancement to enable innovative solutions. All approaches assist our University in fulfilling its 10 institutional commitments to become an environmentally sustainable global university.

Sustainability engagement surveys

In 2023 we launched our first sustainability engagement surveys to learn what staff and students want from a sustainability engagement programme.  This survey itself was co-designed with staff and students and has highlighted the interest in more sustainable food choices, modes of travel and clothing.

Results from the surveys will be published in late May 2024, along with a programme for engagement. Surveys are also going to be launched with our global campus community.

Local community engagement

Sustainable clothing: Where do we go from here?

An interactive panel discussion took place on our Borders campus to outline the challenges and opportunities posed by the environmental, social and political impacts of the fashion industry and associated consumer choices. The event was hosted and led by Dr Britta Kalkreuter, Associate Professor and Director of Research at the School of Textiles and Design, an engaging and informative conversation heard from multiple perspectives and experiences across an expert panel and from a highly engaged audience.

Dr Lisa Macintyre, Associate Professor of Textiles (Technology), Dr Euan Winton, Assistant Professor in Design and Sophia Murden, Sustainability PhD Researcher considered the ways in which sustainability considerations can feature through the entire lifecycle of clothing production, use, re-use and ultimate disposal or recycling of materials.

Changing attitudes to fashion consumption across multiple demographics were considered alongside challenges regarding the transparency of how we can define what constitutes a sustainable piece of clothing.

Community engagement Sustainability updates

As part of the Edinburgh Science Festival 2024, Heriot-Watt University teamed up with Dynamic Earth to deliver a series of events that aim to start a hopeful conversation and inspire collective action towards a more sustainable future.

  • Climate Hope: Building a Better Future - a panel event featuring a diverse team of our researchers and teaching staff to explore the latest cutting-edge research and community action that is driving change and leading the way for a more just and sustainable future.
  • Climate Hope: Hands-on - a family event hosted at Dynamic Earth.