Member of the Month: EAUC Scotland

For this month’s Member of the Month we’ve chatted with Alice Smith, Networks and Communications Officer for EAUC Scotland – The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education. Alice shared inspiring stories on the importance and potential of community, as well as on the ground examples of the step changes around sustainability being made in colleges and universities. 

Tell us about your organisation group.  

EAUC is a UK wide organisation and the environmental and sustainability champion for Further and Higher education. They support universities and colleges across the UK and Ireland. EAUC Scotland sits underneath the wide UK organisation and is funded by the Scottish Funding Council specifically to support the Scottish sector. They have a remit to inspire, empower and support leadership and collaborative action for sustainability across Scotland’s colleges and universities. They are yearly funded and their programme this financial year is: Supporting a step-change towards environmental sustainability at Scotland’s Universities and Colleges.  Follow this link for more information:

Alice acknowledges that the funding landscape is challenging. However, she also shared that in situations like this community is vital firstly to support each other, but also to ensure that organisations don’t duplicate work. 

What inspired you to take your first step into community climate action? 

While a student at the University of Glasgow, Alice was part of a funded team of students employed by the university to join their sustainability team and work directly on environmental action. For Alice this was inspiring in two ways. As part of the communications team, she worked across all activity and saw first-hand a wide range of projects and the impact they made. Through her role she covered everything from major events organised by a coalition of university sustainability teams to smaller initiatives including a bike hub offering a free repair service. Secondly, raising awareness on this breadth of activity enabled Alice to feel part of the wider community of Glasgow’s West End where the university campus is located. The university’s sustainability team was keen to break down silos between students, staff and community and worked under the ethos of everyone being part of their local area. Initiatives such as litter picking campaigns provided opportunities to bring people together, foster community spirit and make a difference locally. All of which went onto to influence Alice’s choice of career. 

What’s the one community climate action you’ve undertaken that you think had the most impact? 

Every 18 months, EAUC Scotland organises a national conference. It’s the organisation’s flagship in person event for the Further and Higher education sector and the main opportunity for all members to come together as a network. The conference is committed to being a space where people can come together, establish a base line of where things are, share stories of progress and motivation as well as discuss opportunities to work together. It attracts attendees from every part of campus life from estates to teaching staff and, over the course of the conference, space is created for conversations around the role of colleges and universities in the climate crisis to be held and heard. 

Last year’s conference focused on Step Change for Sustainability and the discussions and plenaries which explored areas of impact and influence from policy to adaptation, formed the inspiration behind EAUC Scotland’s focus for the current financial year. Sessions were held on everything from decolonisation to biodiversity, with an inspiring keynote from Alyson Mackay from Teach the Future Scotland  (  – a student led voice campaigning the Scottish Government for inclusion of climate and the environment in education. 

For anyone interested in attending this year’s conference save the date: 13 November at the University of Edinburgh. 

What story from your community would you like to share?  

EAUC Scotland recently held its Spring Forum and AGM. This event is an opportunity to elect an Advisory Group and open up the stage for members to share case studies. One of the many brilliant case studies aired on the day shared by Alice was a curriculum specific initiative undertaken by the fashion department at Glasgow’s Kelvin College ( The department are on a mission to embed sustainability into their teaching and do their bit to address the fast fashion industry and its global environmental impact.  

A local luxury bridal store reached out to teaching staff in the college’s fashion department offering to donate former display bridal dresses to their students so they could use the material to make their course work pieces, rather than consign the dresses to landfill. This is a brilliant example of how working sustainably can bring tangible benefits in ways other than environmental impact. Students had the opportunity to work with luxury materials rather than cheap fabrics, and in doing so transformed 13 dresses otherwise heading for landfill into 16 new ones. 

This is just one example of the many initiatives in action in colleges and universities that EAUC Scotland provide a platform and voice for, enabling people and organisations to share the work they are doing and, hopefully, inspire others. 

What’s your advice/tips for community groups wanting to start to take collective action against a changing climate?  

EAUC Scotland is a national membership organisation and as such its circumstances are different from local community groups. However, one thing that comes up for Alice time and again through one of the networks she runs – Community Engagement Topic Support Network – is the importance of not duplicating work. Her experiences highlight the benefits of collaboration logistically in terms in pooling resources and pulling together in tandem with each other, and also the benefits this way of working brings in building a sense of community. Alice highlighted the importance of the Community Climate Action Hubs across Scotland in this respect and ways that institutions can work with them to become more integrated with their local communities, something colleges and universities are keen to do. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Alice’s concluding message about the work of EAUC Scotland is while that the organisation aims to lead and empower colleges and universities in terms of best sustainability practice, its work is often led by the institutions themselves – in doing so helping to build a networked community that can achieve more together. 

Thanks to Alice for the positive nod towards the work undertaken by SCCAN in helping to achieve this. 

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