What is leadership for sustainability in higher education?

Listen in.

Podcast hosted by The University of Worcester. Chaired by Professor David Green CBE.



About the panel members

Questions and references



During the Covid-19 global lockdown, The University of Worcester in the UK began a debate via Teams about Leadership for Sustainability in Higher Education.

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor David Green CBE chaired the debate and the panel began to unpick what Leadership for Sustainability in Higher Education means from a variety of critical perspectives.

In these 8 short podcasts, covering 8 questions, each panel member shares their own contemporary thinking and practice.

As the world faces global economic, social and environmental upheaval, The University of Worcester’s Director of Sustainability, Katy Boom, gathered together a diverse panel of professionals and posed the question: What does Leadership for Sustainability in Higher Education mean?


Meg Baker and Meg Price share what students want. (Q1).

Meg Price, President of Worcester Students’ Union, 2021.

Lord Victor Adebowale discusses the need for diversity in leadership. (Q2).

Lord Victor Adebowale, Chair NHS Confederation.

Dr Antonius Raghubansie considers leadership and innovation. (Q3).

Dr Antonius Raghubansie, Director of Learning Services, British Council.

Katy Boom shares her thoughts on prioritising change. (Q4).

Katy Boom, Director of Sustainability, University of Worcester.

Meg Baker shares Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK) goals. (Q5).

Meg Baker, Director of Education, Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK).

Lord Victor Adebowale and Meg Price discuss plans post-Covid. (Q6).

Lord Victor Adebowale, Chair NHS Confederation.

Dr Antonius Raghubansie shares practical examples of global leadership in sustainability. (Q7).

Dr Antonius Raghubansie, Director of Learning Services, British Council.

David Green CBE responds to urgency and action at the board level. Q8).

Professor David Green CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Worcester.

About the panel members

Professor David Green CBE

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Worcester.

David has been the University’s executive head since 2003 and is accountable to the University’s Board of Governors for the strategic leadership, overall performance and management of the University. He has led Worcester to successful applications for full University title in 2005, and for Research Degree Awarding Powers in 2010. During his time in office, Worcester became Britain’s fastest-growing University, as both revenues and student applications more than trebled. The University has achieved an outstanding reputation for educational quality, imaginative, inclusive innovation, sound management and ethical leadership. In 2016 Worcester was shortlisted for the Times Higher Education’s University of the Year, in recognition of these achievements. The University of Worcester is consistently ranked in the top 5 most sustainable of all Britain’s universities and currently holds the Green Gown Sustainability Institution of the Year and Highly Commended in the International Green Gown Awards 2020, in a ceremony as part of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum.

Lord Victor Adebowale

Chair NHS Confederation.

Victor is a non-Executive Director of the Co-Operative Group, Collaborate CIC, Nuffield Health, Visionable and Leadership in Mind. He is also Chair of Social Enterprise UK and the NHS Confederation. Victor has recently stepped down as the CEO of Turning Point, a social enterprise providing health and social care interventions to approximately 100,000 people on an annual basis. Victor also served for 6 years as a Non-Executive Director on the board of NHS England. He has chaired several commission reports into policing; employment; mental health; housing and fairness for The London Fairness Commission; the Metropolitan Police; and for central and local government. He was awarded a CBE for services to the unemployed and homeless people and became a crossbench peer in 2001. Victor is a visiting Professor and Chancellor at the University of Lincoln; an honorary member of the Institute of Psychiatry; President of The International Association of Philosophy and Psychiatry and a Governor at The London School of Economics. Victor has an MA in Advanced Organisational Consulting from Tavistock Institute and City University.

Meg Baker

Director of Education, Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK).

Meg is Director of Education at Students Organising for Sustainability-UK. SOS-UK is an educational charity created by students and staff at NUS in response to the climate emergency and ecological crisis. We support students to learn, act and lead for sustainability. Meg oversees SOS-UKs education work, programmes and campaigns. This involves working across the student movement and with partner organisations to reform the education sector by enhancing the embedding of learning for sustainability for all students, at all levels of study, in the UK and internationally. Meg found her passion for education transformation through her back grounding outdoor education and learning outside the classroom, working with young people out of mainstream education.

Dr Antonius Raghubansie

Director of Learning Services, British Council.

As an education leader and business director, Antonius’s takes a commercial perspective on sustainability. He has been an advocate and leader for sustainability education for many years in the UK, especially since his doctorate and research into digital innovation. He spent a decade in South America and the Caribbean in senior roles with brands such as Pepsi. Then a similar time in UK HE leadership before joining as Director Learning Services at the British Council, the UK’s cultural relations organisation, he has been posted to Sri Lanka and now India. He has seen multiple challenges to sustainability for Universities, for learners, for governments, educators and funders. It would be great to join the discussion and bring a more international perspective to the debate around HE and Sustainability Leadership. The scale of the education system and the enormity of the sustainability challenge in Asia is existential.

Meg Price

President of Worcester Students’ Union 2021.

Meg Price is President of Worcester Students’ Union. She was elected by students to represent them in a wide range of areas including sustainability. She has worked closely with the University Sustainability team on this years blended Go Green Week. She is passionate about engaging students in sustainability and allowing them to take a lead on their own campaigns and activities on topics that really matter to them. This year saw the launch of the SU Sustainability Network where students come together to share ideas on how to make their student experience and wider community more sustainable.

Katy Boom

Director of Sustainability, University of Worcester.

As Director of Sustainability, Katy has led the development of wide-ranging sustainability initiatives at the University of Worcester. Her work focuses on the campus, working in the community and embedding sustainability in the curriculum. Overseeing the development of students as partners on major sustainability change programs and building sustainability skills with students and student volunteers Katy’s work has won several national and international awards. Katy’s research interests include frameworks for measuring sustainability culture in Higher Education, managing energy in student rented homes, an online magazine for students, academics and practitioners to engage students in sustainable development and developing bike-share schemes. An EAUC fellow and part of the teaching team that devised the EAUC Emerging Leaders training for cross-sector early-career sustainability practitioners.

Questions and references

What is the response from students? Do student’s find engagement in sustainability projects and furthering sustainability education or find interest in others? If there is a lack of interest, how does the university adapt to the opinions of the students? What are the student’s role in the conversation about education and sustainability? (Meg Baker and Meg Price) 



Question 2 – Will it entail a commitment to an organizational ‘followership’ to enable and facilitate actions in support of fostering group cohesion. Will it contribute towards building a more resilient and sustainable society and facilitate change which deals with complexity, uncertainty, multiple stakeholders, competing values, lack of endpoints and ambiguous terminology. In other words, leadership which can cope with ‘wicked problems.” (Victor Adebowale) 





https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/9/3761 – university role in sustainability leadership  

Question 3 – Can you provide any insight into what might be called ‘Heineken’ effective leadership; that is, leadership which has the capacity and reach to deliver a compelling and versatile vision for a university in the 21 Century and yet delivers the Government’s agenda of meeting the pressing economic, social, and environmental needs of the United Kingdom? (Antonius Raghubansie) 




Question 4 – What do you consider to be the most significant barriers to sustainable change in Higher Education? And how might these barriers be overcome? (Katy Boom) 




Question 5 – What is the long-term goal for SOS-UK and what are their plans for the future? (Meg Baker) 



Question 6 – How will Covid affect the leadership agenda for sustainability? (Victor Adebowale, Meg Price) 




Question 7– (Dr Antonius Raghubansie): In your experience, how do universities approach sustainability issues in the United Kingdom versus Asia? What are some findings about cross-cultural sustainability? 




  • Question 8- (David Green) What are the most important actions that panel members would expect Boards to take to encourage Sustainability Leadership in HE? 




Big thank you to the panel members and the susthingsout.com digital creative team for making this post possible.

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9 months ago

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Katy Boom
2 years ago

Thank you to all the panel members for generously giving your time and wise words. A fascinating discussion.

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