February 9, 2021, by sustainablenottingham

Lockdown learning – Sustainability in Business Management

When the first lockdown started in March 2020, Capital Projects Manager Jonathan Leeding took the opportunity to expand his sustainability knowledge with an 8-week online course.

Exercising the mind

It might seem a lifetime ago, but March 2020 was a time of great uncertainty. Initially the novelty of zoom and quizzes kept us all entertained but it soon became clear that the COVID 19 pandemic was here to stay for the foreseeable, and the lockdown would extend for weeks if not months (little did we realise…).

As someone who enjoys keeping active, physically and mentally, I thought hard about how I could use this time effectively and made a spur of the moment decision to sign up for the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership (CISL) online short course in Business Sustainability Management. I do not regret it.

Over the course of eight weeks I worked hard to understand course content, complete assignments, but most importantly, interact with fellow students and tutors on the course forums. The peer to peer learning was new to me but inspiring, thought provoking and challenging in a positive way. It was fantastic to be sharing knowledge and ideas with such a motivated group of people of different nationalities, professions and life experiences.

The course consisted of eight modules, which provided an initial overview of the sustainability challenge, followed by different focuses on sustainability leadership, production and consumption to name a few. I found the module relating to communication, advocacy and education particularly inspiring since it brought home the importance of working together for a sustainable future. Lots of small actions (along with some big ones too…) really can have a significant impact.

The true cost of coffee

A coffee plantation in Brazil

Three of the assignments followed on from one another and we were strongly encouraged to base these on an industry different to our day-to-day work. I chose coffee production. It had never occurred to me that the waste associated with disposable cups is not the only key sustainability challenge associated with the explosion in demand for coffee. The deforestation and biodiversity loss associated with growing the beans is equally, if not more, alarming and less visible to us. This taught me a valuable lesson to ensure I am inquisitive and look at scenarios from different perspectives to help identify and address sustainability challenges.

What next?

The course was simultaneously the most humbling and optimistic learning I have ever done. I am excited to be the sustainability representative on the Sutton Bonington campus planning group as part of starting work on the University’s Estates Development Framework. I will also be continuing my sustainability learning journey as I shortly embark on the Ellen Macarthur Foundation’s online course: Circular Economy: An introduction. There are many things, big and small, that we can do to become more sustainable – I’m really excited to be a part of it.

If you’d like to know more about the courses mentioned, contact Jonathan: jonathan.leeding@nottingham.ac.uk.

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