I was fairly heavily involved with the green scene at UEA while I was studying there, but I had definitely felt the difference in emphasis between the campaigning focus of the student groups and the more personal lifestyle-change focus of transition. At the same time I knew that there were lots of students at UEA who were trying to reduce their environmental impact, but with little support or student specific advice.
Luckily the Student Union agreed that this was a good idea and have funded a course of Carbon Conversations at UEA. We have almost completed the course with the first group now and I have found it incredibly inspiring. Helping other people to realise what changes they can make in their lives is a very fulfilling feeling.
It has been an interesting process focussing the course solely on a student lifestyle and the sharing of advice and opinions on how to view changes or how to save energy in a house you don't own, has been incredibly useful to everyone - including me!
There are many features of student lifestyles that affect low carbon living: from the short term renting of houses I have already mentioned, to the necessity of travelling (usually long distances) to visit your family, or in some cases having to travel for your academic course. However, it is amazing how much positive change you can still make. Carbon Conversations helped me out of feeling that I had very little control over most of my carbon emissions, to giving me a whole range of small changes that I can now do to make a real difference.
As I'm sure you will have realised by now I very much enjoyed facilitating the session last year and I hope to run another session in 2011. I also hope to get more students trained as facilitators so that we can start operating Carbon Conversations on a university scale! It is possible -Transition Edinburgh University ran 15 courses last autumn!!!
Photo: the Carbon Conversations handbook (www.cambridgecarbonfootprint.org)