Greening the Castle through student initiatives
At the Bader International Study Centre (BISC), students are the architects of the Castle’s green dream.
The hands-on sustainability program, now moving into its third summer, asks students studying at Herstmonceux Castle in the U.K. to create proposals for making the facility and its 550-acre grounds more eco-friendly and self-sufficient. The proposals are presented to Castle administration and staff for comments and potential application.
“The idea is to give students an appreciation for what can be done to make the world more sustainable and what the issues might be in trying to do that,” says Steven Moore, a lecturer in Queen’s School of Business and the School of Environmental Studies, who is teaching two courses on sustainability at the Castle this summer.
The courses include lectures but focus on practical applications and “action learning.” For example, a proposal for increasing the amount of food grown on Castle grounds would see students planning and growing a vegetable garden, and perhaps, designing greenhouses. This year, a biomass boiler burning wood pellets to provide heat was installed at the Castle. During the summer program, students could be involved in surveying the existing forest on Castle land to see if it would provide sufficient wood to convert into pellets for heating.
Other student ideas have included drafting plans for solar panels, which will be installed on Castle roofs this year; looking at the installation of bladeless wind turbines; and creating plans for reducing cafeteria waste, implementing worm composting, increasing recycling, and finding more local food sources.
The medieval castle setting provides an “extraordinary experience” for students. The huge site offers ample opportunity for projects and students work in small classes and take field trips to sustainable projects in the U.K., such as wind farms, communities with zero carbon footprints and London City Hall, renowned for its eco-friendly practices.