Elen: University of Exeter Sustainability Summer Programme (July 2021)

In July, I had the opportunity to attend the two week Summer Sustainability Programme, hosted online by the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Exeter.

The first week of the programme, which focused on sustainability, combined the knowledge of experts across a range of disciplines, covering topics including climate change, renewable energy systems and sustainable city design. Each day, we would attend a combination of live plenary talks and workshops, which were supplemented by a range of pre-recorded content and resources. The plenary talks were both engaging and exciting, and the opportunity to listen to world-leading experts discuss their research was invaluable.

I particularly enjoyed the workshop sessions, where we got to work on group activities with students located all around the world. Under the guidance of experts within departments including Mathematics, Physics and Engineering, we were then able to apply our knowledge in order to complete a group project. The project that I worked on, which looked at the optimisation of Renewable Energy systems, really highlighted the value of sustainability as an interdisciplinary endeavor.

The second week of the programme focussed on Urban Analytics, and followed a similar structure to the first week. Each day we would attend a plenary talk and a live session. Throughout the week we worked towards completing a project using the skills we learned in the module sessions, and had the option to attend daily drop-in sessions for guidance. Again, the second week of the programme really highlighted the value of listening to experts discuss their research first-hand, and the keynote speakers were excellent. Overall, I found that the second week of the programme gave me an increased awareness of emerging forms of data, as well as how to begin to utilise data to achieve sustainable outcomes.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to participate in the Exeter Summer Sustainability Programme, and have an ‘abroad’ experience in a time where overseas travel is extremely difficult. The University of Exeter was an excellent host, and created a friendly and welcoming environment even online. I believe I have gained a better understanding of many practical tools, as well as how they can be utilised in sustainable endeavors. Above all I enjoyed learning about emerging research across a broad range of disciplines, and have discovered many new areas of interest and future study. I am very thankful to 360 International for this experience, and I would highly encourage other students to seek out virtual opportunities while they are available.

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