(*Teh-tarik is a sweet foamy tea that is a favorite amongst the locals in Malaysia during chit-chatting sessions with friends).
As PhD research students, all serious and busy with our studies or so we pretend to be , life is about waking up in the morning and thinking what goals to achieve for the day, with barely enough time for sleep. We mix well with people in our research group (or not) but we hardly know researchers from other schools and faculties. “Hey! Enough of the exaggeration,” without doubt that is what I would’ve said. But then again, I am thinking about my life before we started the SRN-UNMC (Sustainability Research Network, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus) ride. Well, let me tell you about how it soon changed us.
The interest on sustainable UNMC was there and waiting for a stimulus, which comes as an email from the SRN-UNUK, looking for like-minded students interested in building a sustainability network in UNMC. As fate has it, the current team responded (Jennie, Umair, Rajeev, Abba and Ee Phin) and we soon met up for a chat with Gabriela and Sarah. The idea of forming SRN-UNMC was extremely appealing because, rather than just thinking about sustainability in the campus, we are actually going a step further by doing something about it.
The journey for SRN-UNMC has been a good one, full of challenges and triumphs, especially when working with a group of highly spirited and enthusiastic souls that are often busy with their own research work and deadlines. Nonetheless, by introducing different communication channels (emails, chats, fb) and reaching out to each other as a team, we were able to initiate and sustain a movement that is fast becoming the sustainability-hub of UNMC. We recently had a networking meeting with the Green Team from the SA, the MINDSET network, Sustainable Environment and Equality Network (SEEN) and the UNMC-LAKE project team from the Estate Office – where we discussed the short and long term sustainability goals at UNMC. In facts, we even developed our own ‘shiny’ vision statement:
Vision: SRN-UNMC sees sustainability as a way of life that starts from within and aspires to transform UNMC into a sustainable model campus that inspires others by example.
In a nutshell, here are what SRN-UNMC has been up to:
- Mar 2014: Skype meeting with SRN-UNUK to get to know more about Sustainability Research Network.
- April 2014: Launched SRN-Malaysia Facebook group and currently we have more than a hundred members.
- May 2014: SRN-Malaysia met to trash out and finalise the vision statement.
- June 2014: SRN-Malaysia launched its very first public dialogue at Graduate School Coffee-and-Cake Session reaching out to like-minded postgraduate students and early-careers researchers working on, or with an interest in sustainability. The talk was given by Jennie Unnikrishnan (Biosciences) and Abba Lawan (Computer Science) and the session was published in the UNMC postgraduate blog: http://blogs.nottingham.edu.my/postgraduate/2014/07/02/coffee-and-cake-session-sustainability-research-network-srn/
- July 2014: The sustainability research baseline questionnaire (Ongoing) was circulated among UNMC staff in an attempt to identify ongoing sustainability research.
- Sept 2014: Meeting with Dr. Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz to find out more about MINDSET – a new sustainable research center in UNMC. Dr. Ahimsa has also agreed to be mentor to the SRN-UNMC committee. We have also extended the invitation to several other researchers to be our mentors.
Last but not least, we have several other projects in the pipeline with collaboration with UNMC management and administrative groups and we are constantly engaging with others to talk about sustainability and what does it mean for them and UNMC. We have students from Geography, Biosciences, Psychology, Computer Science, Engineering and we trying to get through to more people from Social Sciences. It is not only fun to engage with people from diverse background and talents, but we are pooling more creativity and innovativeness into our ideas and projects.
We would like to thank the SRN-UNUK steering committee for getting the ball rolling and we hope there will be more good things in the way.