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Refreshed Green Steps program inspires young leaders

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In a world where climate change and social inequality are ranked by the UN, World Bank and others as some of the most challenging issues of our time, Monash has been equipping students with a unique skill set to become sustainability leaders and change agents in their careers.

In 2000, a group of Monash students started an initiative called Green Steps, which has now developed into an award-winning leadership program delivered by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI).

Each year, a group of students is selected through a rigorous application process to participate in the program.

This year 30 students from diverse disciplines (selected from a group of 95) came together and took part in a refreshed Green Steps training program in late September.

As part of the application process, students are asked to participate in Take One Step, an online challenge that encourages students to ‘take one action’ to lead to a more sustainable world.

The five-day program develops the capacity of emerging leaders at Monash to create change for sustainable development. The training provides students with practical skills and knowledge to influence sustainability-related change in their future careers.

Green Steps has been recently refreshed to provide a stronger focus on understanding and addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Drawing on a broad range of expertise across MSDI, including from ClimateWorksBehaviourWorks and the Oxfam-Monash Partnership, students learn about sustainable development challenges, systems change at the global, organisational and individual levels, and developing leadership, communication and influencing skills.

As part of the training, students also visited the site of Monash’s Net Zero Initiative, the University’s ambitious program to have our Australian campuses using 100 per cent renewable power and net zero emissions by 2030.

Students have now started work on a range of consultancy projects with Monash’s Building and Property division. Projects include helping neighbouring communities achieve net zero carbon emissions, designing concepts for solar photovoltaic installation, reducing food packaging on campus and much more.

Paul Barton, Director of Buildings and Property (BPD), said “The Green Steps program is a fantastic opportunity for BPD to engage with students from a range of disciplines. They bring enthusiasm and a diverse array of experiences and thinking to the projects we give them to undertake.

“BPD benefits enormously from their insights. It’s great that they can help shape the campus sustainability initiatives from their unique student perspective."

The program rated highly amongst students in terms of overall satisfaction.

“Student feedback has been really enthusiastic,” said Program Coordinator Liz Bacchetti.

"Our students are telling us of increased confidence, new practical skills and networks. They are considering future careers that involve creating positive impact no matter what degree they are studying”.

Senior Learning Coordinator Gitanjali Bedi added, “This is a transformational leadership experience. Every student at Monash can benefit from what this program has to offer."

The students will present their projects in early December. Green Steps runs again in semester one of 2019.