March 25, 2024, by sustainablenottingham

Sustainability in Action: Research, Teaching and Personal Experience

Sustainability is a key theme in research and forms a large part of the lives of many of our students. Kirsty and Nancy are passionate about sustainability and creating a better world and have shared their stories for all to hear! 

Student Sustainability Stories – Kirsty Fox  

Tell us a bit about yourself… Who are you and what do you do?  

I am a writer and artist studying a PhD in Creative Writing. My work focuses on our emotional interconnection with the natural world.     

What is the topic of your research and what does it involve?   

The title of my PhD research is ‘Memoir of the Tides: an ecopoetic study of coastlines, climate change, and anticipatory grief’.  

It’s practice-led research using creative writing to explore eco-grief with a focus on coastlines of the British Isles as sites of visible change in the face of climate impacts and biodiversity-loss. I will be visiting locations on the coast to observe and support the work of researchers in ecology and environmental humanities, alongside running writing workshops with coastal communities to explore how changes are affecting them.

Ecological grief (or eco-grief) is sometimes termed ‘solastalgia’ and describes the extreme sense of loss we may feel in witnessing dramatic changes to our home environment. Within my memoir I will be comparing my experiences of personal grief, with the collective experience of eco-grief, to explore the common ground of emotional responses and how these impact our day-to-day lives and our capacity to engage in positive change.  My work sits within the field of ‘ecopoetics’, an inclusive form of expression for writers and artists engaging with eco-critical topics, working to engage with scientific research through the arts, offering the potential to make it more accessible to non-academic audiences.   

   What led you to this area of research?   

 I’ve been passionate about environmental issues since I was a kid – sending pocket money to the World Wildlife Fund in the hope of saving the tigers. As someone with a ‘creative brain’ I pursued other occupations and passions during my 20s and early 30s, though it was always there in the background as my first novel was climate fiction. In my mid-30s I developed chronic anxiety and found I needed to spend more time outdoors around trees and birds to calm my nervous system. When I decided to study an MA in creative writing, the field of new nature writing and ecopoetics drew me in and has become a way for me to combine my passions, skills and experience.   

  Why do you think this is an important topic?   

 I share similar feelings to people like Chris Packham in this, to me this is the most important topic as it affects everything else. Climate justice is closely related to social justice, the ways we have harmed the planet are closely connected to the oppression of people around the world through bias systems that preference profit and progress over wellbeing of people and planet. There are always other hot button topics in the news cycles (not to be dismissive, some are literally life and death), but ultimately we all deserve a liveable planet for plants, creatures and people!   

  Over the next few years, what would you like to happen as part of your research journey? Do you have an end goal in mind?   

 To develop relationships with environmental researchers working in different fields to experience the work they’re doing first hand. To travel to the furthest corners of the British Isles to talk to coastal communities about their experiences. To find ways to engage people positively with environmental issues, so they feel less powerless and despairing. To discover unique habitats and species and write about it all so other people can share in my nerdy enthusiasm for strange things found on the beach.   

  What is one positive message that you would like to share with the Nottingham community?   

 There are so many great community groups in Nottinghamshire running local projects in sustainable food growing, rewilding and conservation. I was really heartened when I dug around to put together a list and one thing led me to another. I recommend getting involved as doing something physical outdoors really helps eco-anxiety.   

  What is your favourite animal?   

I fall in love with different weird creatures all the time, so I don’t have a set favourite. Last year I saw a bunch of stranded sea jellies called By-the-wind-sailor on a beach so I love nerding about them at the moment. But honestly the coots at Highfield’s Lake have my heart too, they have such silly big feet.   

  Where might we find you on a Saturday afternoon?   

I have an allotment now, with a wild garden section. So, you’ll find me there reclaiming space from the brambles so that other things can grow and flourish.  


Student Sustainability Stories – Nancy Verma

Tell us a bit about yourself… Who are you and what do you do? 

Hi, I’m an innovator from India! I’m passionate about empowering women and creating a more sustainable world. That’s why I founded Earth & Soul, a clothing company that designs eco-conscious, stylish fashion.

My background is a unique blend of tech and business. I started out as a web developer, and then I went on to get an MBA in finance management. This gave me a strong foundation in business and finance. I then worked as a management consultant, where I learned how to think strategically and drive growth.

Now, I’m pursuing a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship Innovation & Management from the University of Nottingham. This is fuelling my drive to create a positive impact through ethical fashion.

In short, I’m a passionate entrepreneur who is using business to make a difference. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Earth & Soul! 

 Why did you choose to study at Nottingham? 

I chose Nottingham because it offered a combination of academic excellence, strong career prospects, and a vibrant city life. The University of Nottingham is ranked within the top 120 globally, which means I would be learning from leading minds in my field. In addition, a degree from Nottingham is highly valued by employers, and the university has a strong careers service to helped me achieved my goals. The University has an Ingenuity Program Lab which is so inspiring and helpful for entrepreneurs to launch their ideas.  Finally, Nottingham is a fantastic student city with a friendly atmosphere, rich history, and exciting cultural offerings. This will allow me to have a well-rounded university experience outside of my studies. 

 I hear you have set up your own sustainable business, tell me more… 

Earth and Soul is a sustainable lifestyle fashion label making an effort to promote an ethical lifestyle. We take pride in using only the finest fabric weaved on traditional handloom, soaked in natural dyes. We believe using natural fibres keeps us further connected to our Mother Earth. Made from natural fabrics, our clothes are beautiful to touch and feel exquisite on your skin. We support the artisans causes and dreams. We’re proud to offer something considering our planets and its people, before profit. All products are made with love, keeping in mind our home, our Earth and are nourished with the spirit of human kind. 

What would you like to do after your studies? 

 I’m going to grow my sustainable fashion business, Earth & Soul. And will be taking initiatives in programmes like Climate Fresk to bring more awareness to others and learn more from other people & programmes.  

Why do you think addressing sustainability issues is important to you? 

 The world is facing several environmental challenges, from climate change to pollution. These issues threaten our planet and the well-being of all living things. I believe that it is essential to find innovative solutions to these problems. That’s why I’m so passionate about sustainability. We can all make changes from small to big in our everyday lives, such as reducing our consumption of energy and resources. And Businesses can also play a role by developing sustainable practices and products. 

What is one positive message that you would like to share with the Nottingham community? 

 Hi everyone in Nottingham! I’m passionate about creating a more sustainable world. I want to share my experiences and insights with you. I hope to inspire you to think about sustainability in your own lives, and to show you that it is possible to make a difference. “Let’s build a brighter future together, Nottingham.”

What is your favourite animal? 

 Rabbits. They are very loving and cuddly. 

Where might we find you on a Saturday afternoon? 

 Sipping coffee and brainstorming in a cosy café, or brunch with a friend – fuelling the soul with good food and conversation!

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