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My King's Sustainability Journey – from Student to Research & Staff

When I joined King’s in 2021, I didn’t realise as a first year part-time MSc Climate Change: Environment, Science and Policy student, that there was such a variety of sustainability initiatives to get involved with and make a difference. The notion of ‘making a difference’ is unsurprisingly a common objective amongst many who study and/or work in the social and environmental sustainability space.

This is especially true for younger people as we navigate a world of diverse yet interwoven social and environmental problems. This includes marine and air pollution, ecocide, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, humanitarian and ecological violence, alongside several, green-washed ‘solutions’ such as carbon and biodiversity offsetting. Indeed, much of my eco-anxiety stems from the latter, frustrated at the lack of truly systemic thinking which tackles the root causes of social-environmental problems rather than only their symptoms. We often hear the key to addressing eco-anxiety is fostering a sense of agency, such as by taking action. Although I don’t believe this is a permanent ‘fix’, given that the planet yearns for structural and institutional change, just as much as individual change, it does certainly offer some value for coping in daily life.

It all started in 2022 during my monthly scroll through the King’s Sustainability newsletter, when I came across an opportunity to join the pilot of a self-paced KEATS module for all King’s student and staff, entitled Sustainability & Climate: Learn, Discover, Take Action. Little did I know this click of a button would soon shape my career and academic journey.

The pilot module was well-structured and covered the classic pillars of sustainability – social, environmental, and economic, whilst including content on intersectionality, privilege, and other topics that many sustainability courses overlook. The module was founded by King’s Alumnus and now environmental lawyer, Clarisse Mace, and King’s Sustainability Officers: Alexandra Hepple, Jone De Roode Jaugregi, Rosa Nieves Roe Garcia, following a hackathon with the King’s community which found that students wanted more sustainability education.

After completing the pilot module, I was invited to volunteer in a team of students and professional services staff to co-create and improve the module for the next cohort (more territory for my unexpected career-academic pathway). I led on ensuring each section offered a critical and decolonial perspective throughout, which is vital for driving structural change and demonstrating that sustainability can be practiced in so many more ways than what the United Nations says. I grasped this as an opportunity to place what I had learnt through my BSc Geography with Business Management from Queen Mary University of London and so far in my MSc at King’s into action.

I contributed 12,000 words-worth of content after 300 hours of volunteering. I also created two podcast episodes which included informal interviews with Climate and Ocean Campaigners from the UK Environmental Investigation Agency – a non-profit I was also volunteering with at the time. Enrol on the module to have a listen! A record 1000 staff and students enrolled last year. Of the 300 who have completed it, 91% said they now know how to take action on sustainability and 84% understand how sustainability is relevant to their field or occupation. Thanks to this volunteering experience, I felt ‘closer’ to the university, no longer seeing myself as just another student in just another institution studying towards a degree. I implore others to make the most of their tuition fees and grasp the extra-curricular opportunities that are waiting for us.

Following the 300 volunteering hours, I was grateful to be hired for leading a group of 30+ students and staff to improve the module for 2023. This further exposed me to ‘behind the scenes’ of modules and the people that make our learning and earning a degree possible. As a team, we improved the creative assessment side of the module – whereby students can submit a podcast, narrated presentation, poem, poster, or short essay to demonstrate their synoptic learning. Thank you, King’s Academy, for guiding us through assessment design! From a student’s perspective, this is a unique opportunity to express themselves on complex topics beyond the traditional format of an exam or essay.

Fast forward to 2024, I began the Lunar New Year graduating with Distinction and extending my contract to continue working at King’s for a little longer. I exhibited a poster about my MSc dissertation at the London Student Sustainability Conference 2024 (see below).

The title of the original research was:

‘No, we’re not all in the same boat: evaluating eco-poetic multispecies counter-storytelling for advancing praxis of critical climate solidarities’.

In a nutshell, I critiqued narratives often used at international climate and sustainability conferences that suggest “we’re all in it together”– this could not be further from reality. Who’s “we”? Who’s escaping accountability by suggesting we’re all on equal grounds? Who’s had their voices, struggles, and trauma side-lined during climate conferences and wider society? Diverse climate justice movements are therefore vital for addressing the fact that those with the least responsibility (people of the Global Majority, non-human beings and wider forms of Nature) for this crisis, continue to face unequal and unequitable impacts.

I explored how 28 eco-poems published by the Australian Earth Laws Alliance provided alternative narratives that spotlighted the work of social justice movements and scholar-activism in emerging fields of multispecies justice and Rights of Nature. Through 21 online/in-person interviews with artists, poets, and academics, I analysed opportunities and obstacles for eco-poetry in not only countering hegemonic narratives, but also for facilitating greater dialogue between social, animal, and ecological justice movements. They share similar goals, with empathy being the glue, so there’s lots of potential to build cross-movement solidarities and truly make the world a better place for all living beings. Poetry holds much potential as an artform, tool of resistance, mode of knowledge production and therapy (for poets and audiences).

Want to learn more? Browse this Padlet for inspirational poems, books, and organisations around the world working towards better worlds.

Keats module table 1

Then came what was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career so far. Inspired by the creative assessments that were submitted to the KEATS Sustainability & Climate module, and given my interest in eco-poetry, I led on the curation of an exhibition as part of King’s Climate & Sustainability Month 2024. Entitled, Ripple Effects: Voices on the Climate Crisis, the exhibition showcased a selection of 90 creative assessment submitted to the module in 2023. The submissions on display presented various topics such as biodiversity, love, fast fashion, consumerism, digital sustainability, and different cultural perspectives of sustainability. Most were poems, with some additional custom designed posters and digital artworks.

It was fantastic doing something practical and hands-on, making a change from deskwork, let alone rewarding to amplify voices from across the King’s community. Over the two weeks that the exhibition was held, 800+ visitors attended and engaged with the artwork on display. And it’s not over yet. I’m proud to witness that Ripple Effects exhibits’ legacy lives on through this blog series. Browse a digital version of the exhibition.

As King’s Climate & Sustainability works to embed sustainability across curricula by 2026 - an ambitious yet much-needed undertaking - I’ll continue to be vocal about the un-tapped potential of extra-curricular activities and pertinence of integrating decolonial and social justice perspectives within curricula. Without these, I would not be where I am now.

The transition from postgraduate life to staff at King’s was certainly unexpected. If someone told me before I joined King’s that I’d be shaping the future of sustainability education and managing an art exhibition, I’d say they were getting my hopes up for nothing. The student-staff transition was and continues to be an odd feeling. Although I am no longer officially a ‘Student’ but a staff affiliate, I will always consider myself the former – when does it really stop? I’ve always had the desire to study/work in fields that transgress silos as this is vital for structural change. Working with King’s Climate & Sustainability has only reinforced this philosophy.

I hope others can grasp opportunities to be part of making a difference at King’s and beyond. All whilst we bear witness to interconnected crises on a shared planetary home, in solidarity with fellow kin.





Why should you enrol on the KEATS Sustainability & Climate Module?

  • Gain formal recognition: digital badge + King’s Climate & Sustainability Award + King's Experience Award + added to your Higher Education Achievement Award (HEAR)
  • Learn what personal and collective actions you can take
  • Get the chance to have your creative submission displayed in future exhibitions
  • See what your peers are up to at King's including innovative research and opportunities to make a difference
  • Grapple with topics overlooked in conventional sustainability courses


Bonus: A monthly online Sustainability Seminar Series (open to all including the public) complements the module until June 2024 when the module closes, register for the module now.

Ripple Effects

Ripple Effects is the blog from King's Climate & Sustainability, showcasing perspectives from across the King's community.

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