NUS is in the process of setting up a new charity, called Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK), so it can do more and even better sustainability work. I have been an enthusiastic supporter of this change for some time.
NUS has a good record of incubating ideas and enterprises and then spinning them off when they are big enough, as it did with Endsleigh Insurance. The NUS sustainability work has grown so much that the sustainability team is now the biggest department inside NUS, and it's appropriate now to become a separate charity – acting in response to the IPCC report that says we have 12 years to prevent runaway climate change, and the new youth-led strike movement calling for systemic change. NUS thinks that the pace at which society is reforming to become sustainable is far too slow, and believes that education is the catalyst needed to speed things up.
SOS-UK will legally come into being on 01 July 2019 and will work to:
- Move sustainability from being a niche subject that relatively few study to something all students learn about. All students should be sustainability students
- Create cohort after cohort of positive solutions-driven students who go on to make the world a more sustainable place
- Shift society from an obsession with short-term profit to long-term benefit
through three programmes:
- Getting more students leading on, and learning about, sustainability
- Embedding sustainability in formal education, from early years to adult learning
- Making sustainability more inclusive, for everyone
It will be seen as a part of the NUS family but will have independent governance. Being arm’s length from NUS means that it won’t be restricted to post-16 education, so can start to support students in schools (Huzzar!), and also be able to work with students’ unions that are not affiliated to NUS. The distance from NUS politics will also help when engaging with government.
Great news at a much needed time. And a great name don't you think?