Hello, I am Ed, a part-time MSc student studying Public Policy. Outside of work I work in campaigns and communications and host a political podcast with one of my good friends (a shameless plug but it is called Backchat if you were interested and is available on Spotify, Google Podcasts or Apple Music!)
Today, I will be talking to you about the VIP project I am involved in, what it is, why I do it and what we are trying to achieve.
What is VIP?
A VIP is an acronym for a Vertically Integrated Project.
The projects allow you to work with senior staff and other students to develop a project that addresses a certain issue. There are various ongoing VIPs and I am part of the project looking at Food Waste and (In)security in Bath.
The primary reason I chose this project over the other options is because I recognise the (underrated) importance of food waste and the overall challenge of tackling climate change. Similarly, I know how food insecurity can be devastating for some families and I felt a sense of obligation to get involved once the opportunity emerged. Finally, I thought it might be a good opportunity to build on my research skills in a productive and practical way.
What does it involve?
Our specific VIP focuses on food waste at the University and how the level of food waste can be reduced. This considers the university’s food waste policy, on-campus food outlets, and student attitudes to waste.
To enhance productivity our team has split into three subgroups tasked with exploring each of the areas mentioned above. My specific group is focusing on student attitudes to food waste. We are currently drafting a survey which will be followed by a focus group and a food diary with participants which will help us to understand how much food is being wasted by students and the main reasons behind this. This also involves identifying potential businesses to approach for help with incentives.
We meet over Teams every Tuesday evening to discuss progress and plans going for the future. Our team has split into three sub-groups which look at the university’s policy, student behaviours and businesses/food outlets on campus.
What are you aiming to achieve?
The overall aim of the project is to change the culture surrounding food waste and to create a more sustainable campus. More specifically, we want to identify the primary reasons behind waste and work with students and other stakeholders to develop a plan to reduce waste. This may involve cooking lessons or simply assisting with food management, shopping and storage.
What do you get out of it?
The projects also provides an opportunity to develop research and communication skills as well as exposing you to a variety of views and suggestions on how to tackle food waste on campus. Members of the project come from a variety of courses which means there is usually healthy discussion and ideas, stemming from a different academic perspective. Not only does this allow for a high standard of discussion and research but it opens your eyes to other ways of thinking about the issue at hand. The projects also allows you to develop your skills in research and communications whilst making a long-lasting difference to the university.
Finally, we are in the early stages of the project which is why I haven’t mentioned any tangible outputs yet. But we are planning to set in motion a project which fundamentally changes the culture around food waste to help the university take vital steps towards tackling the climate emergency.