The University's research is world-leading. It goes on to count in policy debates, inform business, be part of the public discourse, and therefore have a real impact on society. We're finding ways to make it more sustainable.
Why is research important?
As well as its positive handprint, research also leaves behind a negative footprint, often requiring energy-intensive equipment and travelling, which contributes significantly to the University’s environmental impact.
The University is working to embed sustainability both in practice and in research outputs.
Research focus (Strategy 2030)
We will strive to make our research even more interdisciplinary and international, to address social and global challenges including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
We will create initiatives in a variety of areas including justice, data science, environmental sustainability, mental health and wellbeing, ageing and dementia, human rights, and global governance, driven by new collaborative research communities. Working in open facilities, researchers, students, the public sector and companies will ‘breathe the same air’ and solve major challenges side by side.
Examples of research include:
- modelling that helps us to understand the causes and the pace of the climate crisis
- renewable energy technologies and carbon capture
- the human and behavioural dimensions of the nature and climate crisis, and societal challenges
- regulatory processes at the national and international levels
Here are some examples of research focused on sustainability, climate action and the SDGs.
The Edinburgh Earth Initiative is our response to the climate crisis. Drawing on strengths from across the University and working with our global partners, we will deliver ambitious solutions for a future that effectively manages and mitigates the effects of climate change.
How the University community is making its mark upon the world through its research, innovation, ideas and actions.
Futureproofing societies and the planet
The Science for Sustainability Hub nucleates academic activity at the University of Edinburgh that pioneer technological solutions toward a sustainable future for our people and the planet. The Hub acts as a portal to build engagement across research, industry, government and civil society to build a new vision for a sustainable future.
The following initiatives make our research more sustainable.
SDG Research Network (for PhD researchers)
The SDG Research Network was created in 2020 with the aim of bringing people together using the SDGs as a common framework and shared language that facilitates collaboration across disciplines.
The group meets regularly to discuss the latest developments in research and practices and offers members a platform to share their research and connect. They also organise bigger events like conferences and workshops to facilitate engagement with the Edinburgh business, policy, and social communities.
The three co-founders are PhD students from different colleges at the University of Edinburgh. They discovered the usefulness of the SDGs for interdisciplinary collaboration and decided to bring this positive experience to our institution. Join the Teams channel to start connecting.
Join the SDG Research Network Teams channel
For us, treating the University as a Living Lab means using our own student and researcher capabilities to solve social responsibility and sustainability issues relating to our infrastructure, practices and teaching.
We can help you make your lab more sustainable through training, funding and advice. We also run an awards scheme to recognise your good practices in lab sustainability.
Topics include waste, fume cupboards and ventilation, cold storage, benchtop lab equipment and water.
Advice for embedding sustainability in your research grant applications, including UK Research and Innovation and Wellcome Trust.
Students as Change Agents is a safe 'living lab' approach for students, staff, and challenge hosts to tackle real-life challenges and generate fresh thinking. It involves students from multiple disciplines, who want to make a social impact.
The Edinburgh Research Office coordinates with the College leads for public engagement, and supports staff and PhD researchers to share their ideas, invite perspectives and spark discussion with new audiences. Making sustainability research accessible to a wider audience can help harness its potential to affect positive change.
Case studies and blog posts
Read case studies and blog posts tagged as 'Academic'
Read case studies and blog posts tagged as 'Living Labs'