Updated: Feb 28, 2018
Author : Caitlin Southwick
The Student Ambassador program was created to try and get students involved in creating more environmental awareness and responsibility from the very beginning. Habits are formed as students and what we learn during our training is brought into the profession for the remainder of our careers. Having studied conservation at four different institutions in three different countries and talking with students from around the world, I noticed a real lack in attention to the ecological impact that conservation has on the planet. Health and safety measures were only recently introduced, and now we are shocked at the toxic chemicals that were used in practice as little as 20 years ago. The next step is not just to pay attention to taking care of ourselves, but also the planet. We learn how to use personal protection equipment and we learn about the hazards we face from our daily practice, but sustainable protocols and practices are still lacking. Students are the future of the profession, and we can shape the norms for tomorrow. This is the time to start learning about how we can become more responsible and sustainable. The cultural heritage sector should be role models in protecting the planet. And it can start with us.
The Student Ambassador Program allows students the opportunity to become leaders for sustainable practice in their institutions. The position can be comprised of one student, a group or students or can be a rotating position. The Student Ambassador is given resources and support from SiC to ensure success. Upon registration to the program, each institution receives an introductory packet explaining how the program works and with materials to get started. Challenges based on the 10 focus points “10 Green Tips” are given to Ambassadors and the participation is showcased on social media with specially created hashtags. Universities around the globe compete with each other to encourage participation and the exchange of ideas and sustainable practices in the lab. We hope that by encouraging participation from students, sustainable practices will be carried over into the profession as well as the increased attention to the matter will encourage more research and creative ideas on making conservation a more sustainable profession.