Published: 20 April 2021

MSc students make a sustainable difference on placement

Students on Surrey’s Environment and Sustainability Masters courses in the Centre for Environment & Sustainability (CES) have been bringing fresh ideas to a range of companies, charities, local authorities and environmental groups during a six-week placement.

The optional placement module, offered on courses within CES enables students to put the theory they have learnt into practice and see it working in the real world  as a sustainability professional.

This year’s students have gone to a wide variety of organisations, including Global Action Plan, Derbyshire Community Health Services and Guildford Environmental Forum, and worked on topics from designing a zero carbon leisure centre to inspiring school children to take collective environmental action.

Katherine Murphy opted to go to Guildford Environmental Forum (GEF), where she worked in collaboration with Surrey Living Labs to conduct research among GEF members about their perceptions to climate change, particularly in the wake of Covid. These insights revealed that climate action remains of key significance in peoples’ minds, even in the time of Covid, and will help the Forum to increase engagement with the local Guildford population to support the rapid reduction of carbon emissions across the Guildford borough by 2030.

Joseph Granado took on an important task at Cranleigh Parish Council, helping to develop plans for the design and construction of a new carbon-neutral leisure centre. As part of this work, he has researched cutting edge technologies, taking inspiration from contemporary leisure centres in the UK and US which use on-site renewable energy and energy-efficient construction.

“I believe that developing a net zero leisure centre will promote health and prosperity for people and the community, but it can also be a catalyst for large scale change within the community and beyond.” - Joseph Granado

Alessia Gabriele chose to go on placement to SOS-UK – an educational charity created by the National Union of Students in response to the climate emergency. Interested in developing her research and communication skills, she opted to write a case study report on the best examples of embedding sustainable development goals into teaching, as well as developing a communications campaign.

Aiming to engage a younger group of consumers, Ilaria Bo’s placement at Global Action Plan (GAP) involved her working on a project designed to give schoolchildren in the UK and Turkey the confidence and support they need to take collective environmental action.

Other placement students include Ben Readman, who has worked with Derbyshire Community Health Services (DCHS) on its plans to promote sustainable care models and improve biodiversity, and Steffie Clement, who has gone to international sustainability consultancy BRODIE where she helped to run a campaign highlighting the positive stories of companies’ response to the pandemic.

Professor Richard Murphy (CES Internship module leader, University Research Theme Champion for Sustainability and Director of CES’s Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability programme) comments “These superb students bringing their expertise into practice are an outstanding example of how we aim at CES to turn sustainability knowledge into action. It is an absolute delight for me and my colleagues to have been able to play a small part in supporting them, our postgraduate students and our early career researchers become the sustainability leaders of tomorrow”


Read a full account of the students’ placement experience on the CES blog.

Discover our courses in environment and sustainability.


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