Student Capital in Green Cities: Building University—Student—City Coalitions

Chris Willmore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

2 Citations (Scopus)


Bristol (UK) is European Green Capital 2015. University students form over ten per cent of the population, the two Universities – the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England and their Student Unions are running a major project, supported by catalyst funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, to engage students in the sustainability transformation of the city region of Bristol. This paper reports on the first phase of the project, its aims, the learning emerging, the support needs for large scale transformative coalitions and the impacts upon all those involved, at the end of the first academic year of the project (2014/15). This project aims overcome the resource questions and develop transferable models of student engagement for sustainability with the cities in which they live. It suggests ways in which a re-visioning of student volunteering may mobilise more students and community partners. The project is testing different ways for securing student engagement in transforming sustainability activity in the city region – in partnership with the business, public and voluntary sectors. It is committed to delivering a transformational change in student engagement and aims to deliver 100,000 extra hours of student activity for sustainability in the community in 2015, to skill students as change agents, to help community change and to link student activism with more formal aspects of their education. It aims to develop a ‘ challenge shop’ approach to help sustain the work of partnership building beyond the 2015 project so as to ensure students and the community continue to be able to find productive ways to work together for sustainability. It is predicated on coproduction models of project design and engages students, staff and other citizens as partners each bringing insight to the activities, and is adopting an action research approach. Much has been written about student engagement but less has been written about the different approaches to linking formal and informal student activity. The study makes a unique contribution in that different approaches are being tested simultaneously.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEngaging Stakeholders in Education for Sustainable Development at University Level
Subtitle of host publicationPart II: Case Studies from Universities
Editors Walter Leal Filho, Luciana Brandli
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783319267340
ISBN (Print)9783319267326
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameWorld Sustainability Series
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Print)2199-7373

Structured keywords

  • Cabot Institute for the Environment


  • Education
  • Sustainable Development
  • Student-Community Engagement
  • Volunteering
  • Student Projects
  • University
  • City Region engagement
  • Open innovation
  • experimentalist governance


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