Student takes on sustainability

This second year student is taking on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in an extensive project for Bath Spa University

Asher Griffin MooreAsher Griffin Moore is a second year BSc Environmental Science student. He’s driven by the idea of designing sustainable ways to use our environment’s resources.

As part of his Biology Work Placement module, Asher has undertaken the mammoth task of assessing to what extent Bath Spa University is incorporating the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals into the curricula for every single course.

Here, I interview him to find out more about the project, and Asher’s personal goals for the future.

“I want to be a part of reforming what are deemed to be traditional or alternative methods, into scalable, profitable business which retains the restoration of our environment and the transcendence to a sustainable future as its ethos.”
– Asher Griffin Moore

Ellen and Asher in conversation

E: Tell me about the project – how did you get started?

A: Identifying who to speak to and how to find them was the biggest challenge! After that, I devised a questionnaire using the SDG agenda – the values that we’ve agreed as a University to try, where possible, to incorporate into our curricula. I’ve looked at that accord and tried to understand it as much possible in the timeframe I had, so that I could devise a questionnaire that covered all the bases.

It’s a complex strategy, because each of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals has about ten tasks within it, so it makes for quite an extensive interview. To streamline the questionnaire, I made an online version so that I could get to grips with what’s relevant for each course and what’s not. I’m doing in-person interviews where possible, working within the academics’ time constraints, and also mine, as I’m in my second year and I’ve got a son as well.

Once I’ve done the interview, I add the evidence into a spreadsheet that details all the tasks in all of the courses, so that eventually we should have a map of where the University is covering the Sustainable Development Goals, and which courses might be not quite meeting the targets. Once I present that to Bath Spa’s Sustainability Manager, he’ll have quite a good starting place to begin making improvements.

E: As part of your work placement module, you’re working with people across the University. How are you finding it?

A: It’s done a lot more for me that I expected. It’s made me feel more confident about transitioning into a professional environment when I graduate, and more confident communicating with my lecturers.

“[The project] has made me feel more confident about transitioning into a professional environment when I graduate, and more confident communicating with my lecturers.”

It feels like I’ve almost started my career already. Rather than just creating a research project for an assessment and then having it sitting in a database somewhere, I’m actually doing something which is going to have implications later on. Potentially, every student who comes here after me could benefit from having a more environmental spin on their course, which feels really good.

It doesn’t matter what you study; we’re trying to make it so that you can do it environmentally. If you study Business, we’ll talk about how you can do business ethically. If you’re a Fashion student, we’ll talk about how damaging some textiles can be, and how to source your materials in an environmental way.

E: I hear you want to work in environmental business. Can you tell me about your aspirations?

A: I’m interested in environmental management – especially legislation. The idea is to be an environmental entrepreneur – to create a business with a focus on restoration, but show that you can still make it profitable. I have a few different ideas, mainly to do with using plants to recycle resources.

For example, we have quite a linear relationship with phosphorus; we mine it, we put it into fertilisers and into the soil, and it's lost when it leaches out into oceans and waterways. I’m really interested in trying to close that cycle.

Some experts think that we only have 30 years of phosphorus left, and after that we’re not going to be able to farm the way we do now. Before that becomes a major issue, I want to be a part of recycling those nutrients.

E: You’re doing this project as part of the Biology Work Placement module. Would you recommend the module to other students?

A: I’m quite surprised at how fulfilling it’s been. I was going to do a year placement, but now I’ve done a paid project for an extended period of time – a research project for the University – and I feel that it’s substantial enough to talk to employers about.

It’s saved me a year, and now I can do a Master’s in that time. I didn’t think that one module would be enough, but now I do.

E: Have you tailored the course towards your career goals and aspirations in any other ways?

A: When I arrived I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do; I was finding my feet. From this point on, I’m going to take more Biology subjects, because that’s my main interest. I’m either going to use the data I’ve collected through this project to inform my dissertation, or I’ll do a Microbiology based dissertation.

At the moment in the Microbiology module, we’re looking for new antibiotic producers. The results that we upload are going into a global database, and could potentially help people in the future find new antibiotics.

This gives me the energy I need to do the work with care. I feel inspired when there’s a purpose behind what I’m doing.

“Working with academics and holding my own has given me the confidence to… feel much much more comfortable in the way I communicate. It’s completely changed my whole demeanour.”

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.



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