The Beginnings

Student Societies Transition movement Transition University of St Andrews

This year Transition has taken on a fast pace of its own – we are really lucky to  have three staff, an office and great projects funded by the Climate Challenge Fund, but it is still important to remember how this all started.

I have coordinated the OneWorld Society here at St Andrews for about a year now. I was thrown into this role last year when most of the other OneWorld committee members went their separate ways.  I had the challenge of re-launching the Transition University campaign and other campaigns of OneWorld, all without any previous experience!  So, everything did get a bit confused at first – what’s OneWorld? What’s Transition? Where are the boundaries? Who are People and Planet? I floated away on my own little idealistic bubble thinking about how great it could all be, and that I could manage all the campaigns myself, until the bubble popped and I realised I was as confused as everyone else.

The previous year Elana Bulman, Hannah Steenbergen, Rebecca Petford and Hanna Plant had done a great job launching the Transition campaign inspired by People and Planet (P & P). People and Planet are a student led network of activists who campaign about environmental and human rights issues at Universities all around Britain. OneWorld is a branch of this, but someone years ago decided that they didn’t want to call the society People and Planet but instead OneWorld for greater autonomy. We still have great support from the P & P office of staff based in Oxford and good contact with other P & P groups across Scotland. We also send a few students each year to Shared Planet, which is a huge gathering of P & P activists . The event hosts skill shares and high profile speakers – last year we saw Caroline Lucas!

Transition Universities had been chosen as the P & P Going Greener campaign in this Shared Planet forum a few years ago. St Andrew’s environmental consciousness from the Sustainable Development Department and other green Societies made this campaign seem perfect, as it was about behaviour change across all departments and the student body, which would lower the carbon footprint of the University as a whole.

At the beginning of last year there were some differing opinions about the links between Transition and OneWorld. Many people were under the impression that being linked to OneWorld created socialist or hard core activist connotations and although I didn’t think this was the case, the OneWorld and Transition Siamese twins went under the knife.

I am happy to say that the operation didn’t turn out to bad for either group and that we still work together very closely. Many OneWorld members are in the Transition University of St Andrews Steering Group and worked on the original Climate Challenge Fund. There is much passion in many groups here at St Andrews p about this campaign. Luckily for me, Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs took on the role of Transition Co-ordinator and has done a great job so far, allowing OneWorld to focus on other campaigns such as anti Tar Sands and the Buy Local campaign, along with hosting many events such as Fairtrade Cafes.

I am really excited to see where another year takes us, and hope that OneWorld and Transition University of St Andrews can develop further and further, and continue to inspire each other. This year we have built a base of inspirational individuals who are active environmentalists here at the University. If you are interested in getting involved in OneWorld’s campaigns, please email your username to oneworld.sta@googlemail.com to find out more.

Lauren King

OneWorld Co-ordinator, 2010-Present

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alistair.macleod
Ali is project manager of Transition University of St Andrews.