Sustainability project helps students connect with Leeds

Students have shared their experiences of how they connected with the city of Leeds through a project aimed at increasing environmental awareness.

Sustainability project helps students connect with Leeds. June 2023

Leeds University Business School students took part in the Walking to Zero project which encouraged them to engage with the Leeds landscape and increase sustainability awareness. 

Training sessions with Steve Hoffman from the To Walk project helped students to un-do existing walking habits such as listening to music, and instead to follow their instincts on their daily commute to campus. 

By walking in this way, students noticed more about the city and picked out new favourite community spots, local landmarks and regular friendly faces. 

Sally Chan, project lead, said: “Our aims with this project were to really help students to engage with their surroundings, with the goal of increasing their engagement with sustainability and climate change.  

“It’s been a fantastic success – students have told of not just an immediate impact on their physical and mental wellbeing, but of how it can impact on the rest of their life. International students were also surprised that learning more about Leeds helped them to connect with their own countries – and enjoy time in the city they’ve made their ‘home from home’.” 

Students documented their journeys with photographs which will be displayed in an exhibition called Walking to Zero on 28 June at Leeds University Business School, Maurice Keyworth Foyer. 

Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, is the University’s executive sponsor for the delivery of its Climate Plan. He said: “As a University, we know our responsibilities include providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to have a positive impact in the world and to contribute to solutions in our local community.  

“There is a big personal factor in sustainability – the more you know about it, engage and connect with your environment, the more you care about it and want to protect it.” 

The Walking to Zero project will be launched again next year where more students will be invited to take part. 

Steve Hoffman added: “We wanted to help students create a relationship with the landscape – that’s what transforms a walk from the mundane to the magical. If we’re constantly looking at screens when we walk, we lose that relationship with the landscape. Our work really helped students transform how they saw their ‘commute’ walks between their home and campus, and created landscape and walking memories for them in the city.”

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