Professor Joy Carter CBE, DL isn’t your average vice-chancellor. She’s often pictured with a distinctive purple streak in her hair, has spoken out in support of the ‘Fridays for Future’ school climate strikes and is a patron of no less than nine charities.
Speaking with Professor Carter, her passion for social justice, equality, sustainability and animal welfare is apparent. These passions aren’t just personal, however – they’re key to her leadership at Winchester. She explains: “We want to be a trailblazer in the higher education community and show that a values-driven approach to education is hugely effective.”
Since her arrival at the University in April 2006, Joy has championed the importance and impact of values in education globally. Closer to home, the University’s strategic plan is focused on establishing values-driven education to address the most urgent problems facing humankind.
Joy is very direct in acknowledging the challenge: “The University of Winchester wants to tackle the major challenge of climate change head on. We need to take positive action now, rather than sleepwalking into a global disaster.”
The University clearly outlines the values it seeks to instil in students and weave throughout its work: compassion – valuing people, animals and the planet; individuals matter – embracing equality, diversity and inclusivity to the full; and spirituality – expressing and reflecting on life’s big questions.
The list of sustainability, environmental and social accolades that the University now boasts is long. It is working with the National Union of Students’ Responsible Futures programme – an accreditation mark and supported change programme for a whole-institution approach to environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
Practice what you preach
It’s key for Joy that the University goes beyond strategy documents and international schemes with its approach. When there was a need to expand the University’s Department of Digital Futures, which offers degree programmes that blend computer science with cutting-edge design, it was an opportunity to create an eco-friendly, inclusive new building.
“As a university that prides itself on being a beacon of sustainability and social justice, it was key that the new building embodied these values – we wanted the building to not just meet our educational needs, but also lead the way in sustainability.”
For the University, it was important that when choosing partners for the project – everything from architects to bank finance - it chose suppliers who understood the values behind it. Working with Triodos Bank for a £30m loan to fund the project was therefore a natural fit.
The building at the University’s West Downs Quarter is of a highly innovative design and promises to achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating once complete. It boasts a range of cutting-edge sustainability and efficiency features from heat recovery systems and solar photovoltaic panels, to rainwater harvesting and a green roof.
Joy is clear that this is much more than a building project: “Whilst we’re excited that the new building is the biggest project in the University’s history, in terms of physical size and investment, we believe that its true value is much more than just monetary.
“The project is even more valuable in that it’s an iconic milestone on the road to Winchester’s sustainability targets and a meaningful building that aligns with our values.”
While boosting teaching space by 20%, the building will also bring a range of social benefits for both students and local residents, with a multi-use space that features an art gallery, zero waste shop and vegan café.
Joy adds: “We hope that these features will help us on our journey to eliminate single-use plastics at the University by 2022 and achieve other key environmental milestones. Sustainability is a way of life at Winchester and we aim to incorporate it in everything we do.”
While Joy is leading from the front, developing a way of life at Winchester that is founded on its key values should underpin the education delivered. “We want our students to be empowered to change the world for the better, challenge convention with compassion and stand up for what they believe to be true.”
About the University of Winchester
Founded in 1840, the University of Winchester is a leading university in the UK offering study on a wide range of subjects – from arts and humanities, to business and education. It is home to over 7,800 undergraduate and postgraduate students. Lending of £30 million represents the bank’s first loan to a UK university, a commitment to supporting pioneering educational institutions.
The Colour of Money
This article was originally published in the spring/summer 2019 edition of the Colour of Money, Triodos Bank's inspirational magazine.
Our mission is to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change. The Colour of Money gives you stories, features, and interviews showing you how we do just that.
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