Students use Big Picture Challenge to tackle food waste problem

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Students recently celebrated their completion of the Big Picture Challenge, a new enterprise education programme at the University of Bath. Students from a range of countries and levels of study came together to work collaboratively to find innovative ways to tackle the problem of food waste and gain key transferable skills for the workplace.

This extra-curricular activity was a joint initiative between the SU Bath and the School of Management, with support and funding from the Centre for Learning & Teaching and the Public Engagement Unit. It aimed to explore new education possibilities as part of the curriculum transformation process.

Students reflect on their experience of taking part in the Big Picture Challenge

With food waste becoming an increasingly hot topic, students were able to draw upon the knowledge of key industry experts, including Trewin Restorick of Hubbub, Jeff Davison from Unilever and Tim Rawlings of B&NES Council. Teams of students worked together to explore the complex problem of food waste from all perspectives, before generating solutions and pitching their ideas to a panel of judges.

The winners of the Big Picture Challenge were team “Fresh Thoughts”, who developed a simple and effective system of prompting students to think about the food they waste using a range of posters, cards and fridge magnets. Follow-up mentoring was also offered to all students who took part to allow them to take their ideas forward.

Reflecting on his experience, Lewis Hall, 3rd year MEng (hons) Chemical Engineering, said:  “I learnt a lot from working with students from different courses. The group work aspect of the challenge was completely different from the group work within my degree where we all think the same, we have the same ideas.”

Almost half of the participants were international students like Lucksamon Deevongkij, MSc Entrepreneurship and Management. Lucksamon admitted that: “At first, I was afraid that the cultural differences would bring incompatibilities, but it turned out that all members were really nice and open-minded. We all learnt to be good listeners and let others share their ideas.”

Kristie To, 2nd year BSc (hons) Psychology, said: “This challenge was the first thing that allowed me to go outside my field and develop entrepreneurial skills which will be really useful when applying for jobs.”

After judging the presentations, Libby Sandbrook, Head of Circular Economy at Business in the Community, commented:At this critical point in history where we must tackle sustainability challenges head on if we are to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, I felt inspired and encouraged by the commitment and energy that these students put into their projects.”

Dave Broadway, Chairman of CFH Docmail and Bath alumnus, added: “It was a privilege to witness the excellent ideas presented to reduce food waste and improve sustainability. The fact that the output was so good shows the value of this kind of cross- disciplinary team creation in the best possible way.”

If you are interested in running a similar activity or in building new enterprise activities for students in your department, please contact Dr Henrietta Sherwin, Centre for Research on Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management.

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