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University launches new sustainability prize

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Published on 03 August 2023

Mairidh Niccormaic
Mairidh Niccormaic

As part of the University of Sunderland’s commitment to environmental sustainability, a new prize has been launched to recognise students who use their creative talents to address global challenges.

The Sustainable Futures Prize is awarded to final year students, one from each Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries programme – BA and MA), who have developed an outstanding project or assessed piece of work that shows they are thinking about sustainability for their careers and/or contributes to a world fit for future generations. 

Through art, design, media, journalism, performance and English, students explored climate change but also wider global issues, including poverty, good health and wellbeing, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water, life on land and peace and justice. Human and non-human relationships underpin these issues as does equality and diversity. 

The winning students, who were selected by their programme academics, each received a voucher from Ethical Shop.

Twenty-one prizes were handed out at the University’s Summer Graduation Ceremonies at the Stadium of Light in July. 

Among the winners was 23-year-old Fashion Design and Promotion graduate Mairidh Niccormaic, whose lifelong passion for protecting insects inspired her fashion collection, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of insects for our own future survival.  

“Sustainability is more important now than ever before,” Mairidh, from Galway, Ireland, said. 

“The clock is ticking, and it is critical that brands, especially in the fashion industry take accountability and review all elements of their production. 

“For my final major project I looked at the insect apocalypse and how insects are in danger. My work was a voice for insects, particularly the creepy crawlies found in garment production. I looked at their role and the connection they have had for thousands of years with the fashion industry. I wanted to highlight the importance of insects, and how fashion and agriculture affects them. 

“I try to minimise waste in my production. In my collection, I included second hand fabric as well as off-cuts. I have spoken on radio programmes in Ireland about ethical and sustainable practice. The garments I make are designed to last in manufacture and style, so that they can be a part of someone’s wardrobe for many years to come.”

Professor Arabella Plouviez, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland, said: “Being inclusive and thinking sustainably are core to all our futures and in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, we believe creative people are essential to making that a reality. 

“The new Sustainable Futures Prize has enabled such a broad range of work to be recognised and really highlights how our students are able to use their learning to impact in a positive way on the community. 

“It is very important that students feel empowered and informed to question and to challenge the world around them to be able help to find solutions for some of the big questions and challenges we face. It is inspiring to look at the achievements of these prize winners, they really help us to see a sustainable future.”