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Office HoursPeopleSpiegeloog 413: Nature

Office Hours: UvA Green Office

By September 17, 2021No Comments

For this month’s office hours, Spiegeloog spoke with Milly Warner, the research and education team leader of the UvA Green Office in the 2020-21 academic year. The Green Office is a student-led organization which aims to accelerate sustainable development at the UvA, build a community around sustainability, and integrate sustainability in research and education.

What does the Green Office do?

The Green Office is a student-led organization which tries to promote sustainability within the University of Amsterdam. We have a group of around sixty bachelors, masters, and PhD students, who are all working on different sustainability projects. The Green Office is broken down into four different teams: community, campus, communications, and research and education. We focus on these relevant topics. I lead the research and education team, and we have a variety of different projects going on. We have some individual research projects where students come to us and we help facilitate their work. For example, we have someone with us at the moment who has been doing computational models of the energy usage of different UvA buildings. We also do a series called Green Talks, where we interview sustainability professionals in order to give inspiration to people who are looking to make this kind of career progression. We have also been developing a new site called the Knowledge Hub, which is a centralized sustainability platform for the whole of the University of Amsterdam, so anyone from any discipline is welcome to join, post projects and opportunities.’

How has the COVID-19 affected the Green Office and its work?

‘It has affected it a lot. Everything we have done is online, and I have actually never met my team. It is quite a funny position to be in having worked with people for a whole year without meeting them. And we used to do quite a lot of in-person events, for example we would organize events with the PhD researchers, who could do talks about their work. There have also been some silver linings to it. Previously the research and education team of the Green Office has really been focusing on linking people in different parts of the university together in order to develop their ideas and research projects. Obviously, this year that was not possible because of the pandemic. The development of the Knowledge Hub has really been improved and fast-forwarded because of working online, and because of the increased need for this online space. It is supposed to be this connective tool, linking people from different parts of the university together, based on similar interests rather than being divided by disciplinary boundaries.’

Why should psychology students join the Green Office?

The Green Office is open to anyone from any discipline, and I think it really takes this kind of holistic view of sustainability. Obviously, there are the more direct environmental sides of it, such things like carbon sequestration, as well as the more biological and physical processes; but we try to look at sustainability as holistically as possible. We use a framework called ‘systems thinking’ quite often, and the social sciences are absolutely fundamental because they tie into this wider conversation about how people engage with ideas about sustainability.’

How can one go about joining the Green Office?

‘At the beginning of every year we put out a call for new members. You can apply to join an ongoing project, such as our podcast, the Green Talk or the floating garden research site on the Roeterseiland campus. You can also apply with your own project that you would like to implement with the help of our office and our contacts at the university. Just pitch your project idea to us and hopefully we will be able to facilitate it.’

What does the Green Office do?

The Green Office is a student-led organization which tries to promote sustainability within the University of Amsterdam. We have a group of around sixty bachelors, masters, and PhD students, who are all working on different sustainability projects. The Green Office is broken down into four different teams: community, campus, communications, and research and education. We focus on these relevant topics. I lead the research and education team, and we have a variety of different projects going on. We have some individual research projects where students come to us and we help facilitate their work. For example, we have someone with us at the moment who has been doing computational models of the energy usage of different UvA buildings. We also do a series called Green Talks, where we interview sustainability professionals in order to give inspiration to people who are looking to make this kind of career progression. We have also been developing a new site called the Knowledge Hub, which is a centralized sustainability platform for the whole of the University of Amsterdam, so anyone from any discipline is welcome to join, post projects and opportunities.’

How has the COVID-19 affected the Green Office and its work?

‘It has affected it a lot. Everything we have done is online, and I have actually never met my team. It is quite a funny position to be in having worked with people for a whole year without meeting them. And we used to do quite a lot of in-person events, for example we would organize events with the PhD researchers, who could do talks about their work. There have also been some silver linings to it. Previously the research and education team of the Green Office has really been focusing on linking people in different parts of the university together in order to develop their ideas and research projects. Obviously, this year that was not possible because of the pandemic. The development of the Knowledge Hub has really been improved and fast-forwarded because of working online, and because of the increased need for this online space. It is supposed to be this connective tool, linking people from different parts of the university together, based on similar interests rather than being divided by disciplinary boundaries.’

Why should psychology students join the Green Office?

The Green Office is open to anyone from any discipline, and I think it really takes this kind of holistic view of sustainability. Obviously, there are the more direct environmental sides of it, such things like carbon sequestration, as well as the more biological and physical processes; but we try to look at sustainability as holistically as possible. We use a framework called ‘systems thinking’ quite often, and the social sciences are absolutely fundamental because they tie into this wider conversation about how people engage with ideas about sustainability.’

How can one go about joining the Green Office?

‘At the beginning of every year we put out a call for new members. You can apply to join an ongoing project, such as our podcast, the Green Talk or the floating garden research site on the Roeterseiland campus. You can also apply with your own project that you would like to implement with the help of our office and our contacts at the university. Just pitch your project idea to us and hopefully we will be able to facilitate it.’

Arda Ergin

Author Arda Ergin

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