An international student who chose the University of the Sunshine Coast for its sustainability credentials has now been named an Australasian leader for her green endeavours.
In her final year of a Bachelor of Environmental Management, Fien Van den Steen was last night named Sustainability Champion – Student in the Green Gown Awards Australasia.
The awards promote best-practice sustainability within the operations, curriculum and research of the tertiary education sector in Australia and New Zealand and are run by the Australian Campuses Towards Sustainability.
UniSC’s Thompson Institute also featured, with the Alliance for Suicide Prevention – Sunshine Coast receiving a Highly Commended award in the Creating Impact category, and the EMERALD community wellbeing project named a finalist in the Benefitting Society category.
Fien credits her win to the many leadership opportunities she’s had at UniSC, a university that aligns its own operations with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“As a university we are doing excellent work and I am still very proud and happy that, when I was considering which uni to attend, I chose to come here,” Fien said.
“It’s not just the logistical side like the water battery and sustainable operations on campus that inspire me, but also the environmental research and education happening here.
“Living so close to the beautiful ocean and the hinterland, we have sustainability at our heart and, as a university community, we want to take care of our environment.”
In her time as a student at UniSC, Fien has attended the Green Summit at the United Nations headquarters in Bangkok where she received the Green Ambassador title. She also co-created and leads a workgroup of professional and academic staff, running regular initiatives to inspire and embed sustainable activities and engagement on campus.
Fien is a student representative on the university council, co-chairs the student senate, and represented the student voice at the Students as Partners Roundtable and Gender Equity Panel and helped organising the Outback Tour.
She has also relaunched the UniSC Enactus group in which students take entrepreneurial leadership to increase sustainable and connected communities while contributing to Sustainable Development Goals.
And earlier this year Fien was named the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors Scholar Award recipient, among other achievements.
“My aim is to give students the confidence to take sustainability action in their lives and know that, working together, we can create a bigger impact,” Fien said.
UniSC Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Helen Bartlett, said Fien was a powerful advocate for sustainability on campus and off.
“Fien has not only driven sustainability among her peers, but she has been a driving force in organising on-campus activity with staff,” Professor Bartlett said.
She said students were increasingly seeking out a university that aligned with their values of creating a better world.
“Students are concerned about the future of their world and they expect their university to be taking action and leadership,” Professor Bartlett said.
“It speaks volumes that sustainably minded students like Fien are assessing their options across international universities and choosing UniSC, which has a national reputation for its teaching quality and is known for its leadership globally in sustainable development, including embedding clean energy and environmental practices across our campuses.”
UniSC was this year named top in Queensland and in the global top 2% for impact in the Times Higher Education Impact rankings, which assess university outcomes against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More on sustainability at UniSC here.
UniSC campuses are also located across three of Australia’s five UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, located at Fraser Coast, Noosa and Sunshine Coast.
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