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by Larissa Petryca, on 14 October 2021 12:31:28 CEST

When you hear the word Sustainability you may think environment, but sustainable practice extends into society, the economy and education.

What is Sustainability

As a planet we extract large amounts of materials from the earth. We also create and accumulate substances and products. This inhibits the natural environment to thrive. As a society we have created inequality, many people struggle to meet their basic needs. If we continue to extract and create more products and encourage inequality, life is challenged and will ultimately become unsustainable.

Sustainability is the sixth pillar of the university’s core values. By embracing sustainability we consciously consider our individual and collective impact. By being aware, and through our choices, we can reduce impact and create solutions. The primary goal is for a healthier society and environment, ensuring a sustainable planet for future generations.

Education for Sustainable Development

Sustainable principles guide activities across the university and reinforced in the curriculum, in activities, on campus, over projects, research and knowledge transfer.

It guides our Living Futures university-wide theme, a long-term initiative to build awareness of the most important challenges affecting humanity and our role in shaping the future.

We take our lead from a key UNESCO report from 2019:

“Education for Sustainable Development empowers learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability and a just society, for present and future generations, while respecting cultural diversity… It is about lifelong learning, and is an integral part of quality education.”

As educators, by instilling a sustainable philosophy within the classroom we expose students to a deeper level of thinking and problem solving. We encourage and motivate them to examine and find solutions.

sustainability using fungi
Fungi has incredible properties that can be used to create new products across a range of industries

These are demonstrated in students’ individual and group projects. It’s also of equal concern to our lecturers who highlight sustainable issues within their field and propose solutions.

Some interesting examples are:

Recovering metals from E-waste

Ayna Pirkuliyeva’s MycoRecovery project for MA in Future Design investigates mycelium, fungi with thread-like cells. Mycelium absorbs radiation and metals and is proven to restore and protect natural environments.

sustainable solution to e-waste
E-waste, the fastest growing waste in the world

Its fibrous form has also been used in bio packaging, artificial leather and bricks. Ayna found it’s absorbing qualities can recover metals from e-waste, the fastest growing waste in the world. By adding it to e-waste at the recycling phase a huge range of metals can be recovered, sold and repurposed. This would also lessen toxic landfill and reduce the necessity to mine.

Ayna Pirkuliyeva explains her MycoRecovery project

Self-sustained energy systems for cities

sustainability in modern cities
Energy City resembles an ecosystem

Zhyldyz Shaiymbetova's project for MA in Future Design presents a future in which energy systems in cities are interconnected and self-sufficient. Zhyldyz’s city-wide, multi-scale energy network collects, distributes, and stores natural resources and energy. This reduces waste and emissions. If adopted, future cities would take on characteristics resembling natural ecosystems.

Zhyldyz Shaiymbetova explains her energy system project

Programming an App for Refugees

While studying for his BSc in Computing Ahmed Ebeid became involved with refugees in Germany. In order to improve communication and help refugees move out of camps and into society, Ahmed applied his coding skills and programmed an App.

Ahmed’s App enabled matching and sharing of information for individual refugee cases assisting the volunteers and also assigned tasks. This allowing for improved communication with the refugees. It also meant faster processing of applications so that individuals and families could begin to rebuild their lives in a safer society.

Repairing Unwanted Laptops

In 2019 students from the School of Media and IT took part in a charitable sustainability project when they sourced unwanted laptops and reconditioned them and gave them to children in need attending an elementary school outside of Prague.

BSc (Hons) Computing student Kristi spoke on behalf of the students ‘Our aim is to help through gathering, fixing up and then donating old unwanted laptops with the purpose of enabling children in need to learn valuable skills such as coding, which can later in life help them land a job’.

Sustainable Development Goals in a Post-Pandemic World

Dave Gannon, Associate Dean of the School of Business, was recently invited to talk at an international conference hosted by the Taiwan Philanthropic Study Institution and the Euro-Asia Business Research Group. The topic was Sustainable Development Goals in the Post-Pandemic world. Dave addressed Business Mindset as economies emerge from the Pandemic. He also shared how businesses could contribute to fostering Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainable development.

Business confidence is at its highest in four years. This is due to organisations agile response in finding new solutions for their operations, fast digital transformation and an adaptable consumer market. This positive outcome should encourage businesses to work in more flexible ways with employees, customers and the wider community, leading to greater satisfaction and wellbeing.

Dave Gannon, Sustainability Goals
Dave Gannon presented on Sustainable Development goals to a Taiwanese and East Asian audience

School of Business research focussing on sustainable issues

Business ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are of upmost importance to PCU. School of Business student’s are encouraged to consider these factors along with sustainability when researching for their final dissertation.

The environmental impact of Coca Cola in the Czech Republic

BA (Hons) International Finance and Business Accounting student Radhik Soni presented to CCHBC Czech Republic his dissertation, a joint research project that was undertaken with CCHBC with their assistance for his final year dissertation. Radhik undertook research to determine the environmental impacts that CCHBC has in the CZ using disclosures recommended by the Global Reporting Initiative. He was then able to measure the sustainability of their operations. In addition, Radhik researched related topics such as Integrated Reporting, Porter’s Value Chain, Mendelow’s stakeholder Power/Interest matrix and Sustainability Accounting.

Radhik Soni’s research presentation to CCHBC

Day Care for the Disabled

Tereza Kvalová’s dissertation for Bachelor’s (Hons) International Management investigated the need for a day care centre in Prague that would provide care, removing the need for personal carers. There are currently 1.8 million people in the Czech Republic living with some form of disability and despite government support programmes and access to education, once a disabled persons reach the age of 26 the education provision is ended and personal care is often required, beyond the reach of many peoples budgets. Tereza found that there is sufficient demand for such a centre and would remove some of the stress and impacts that family members face when caring for a disabled relative.

Sustainable Fashion

Jasmína Píšová’s dissertation investigated if there would be sufficient consumer support for a sustainable business focusing on the fashion market. The research demonstrated a positive response from Czech consumers, although the market showed some skepticism towards businesses that claimed to be sustainable. As a result, a business would need to make transparency and communication key drivers of their business strategy to attract consumers.

Online Entrepreneurs

Tendeukai Manase researched the challenges faced by online entrepreneurs in South Africa and Zimbabwe. With a high attrition rate in the region, key challenges facing prospective entrepreneurs were sought in order to advance strategies allowing for increased entrepreneurial activity and development in the online arena. The key barriers identified were infrastructure provision and internet connectivity, along with accessing finance to fund start up costs. Despite these challenges, both countries demonstrated a strong entrepreneurial desire amongst young people to embrace the online world and start businesses.

LGBTQIA Brand Association

Erick Araujo investigated LGBTQIA+ friendly brands and examined whether a brands association with the LGBTQIA+ community could work as a brand enhancement strategy, particularly in targeting Prague millennials. His outcomes found that there was a positive reaction and support for the LGBTQIA+ community, but that was often diluted by feelings of rainbow-washing unless an organizations values stressed inclusiveness and diversity.

Disability Employment

Manuel Marques investigated the employment cycle of people with physical disabilities in Sao Paulo, Brazil. With 217,000 affected, understanding their employment experience allows for better support and increased opportunities for work. The research found that prejudice and discrimination are the factors that prevent many from finding work. There is a need for managerial approaches to remove stigmatization allowing this access to greater career opportunities.

Sustainable Agriculture

Julien Moigno chose to focus on growing consumer concern regarding the environmental impacts of agricultural production. The key challenge for agri-business is to develop new approaches and strategies which satisfy the needs of production, the consumer and the environment. With sustainable agriculture only forming a marginal element of the overall industry, there is a great need to change to more sustainable models. Julien’s research identified that currently, sustainability does not form a core component of agri-business strategy, even though awareness of its impacts is acknowledged and greater efforts need to be made.

PCU Industry and Community Engagement

PCU continues its commitment to sustainability by joining the British Chamber of Commerce Sustainability Working Group which meets several times a year to develop and present policy ideas to government.

We also choose to partner with businesses who share a similar commitment to sustainable practice. Stay tuned for a soon-to-be announced industry partner dedicated to helping cities reduce their vulnerability to climate change impacts!.

If you would like to be a part of our sustainability initiative and have your business work with us then please contact us here.