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Liberating Sustainability Podcast launched today!

Larissa Kennedy
On the second day of the Student Sustainability Summit we are excited to be releasing the first episode of our brand new podcast, Liberating Sustainability.!

Liberating Sustainability is an intersectional take on the climate emergency. Over five weekly episodes, the podcast will focus on the intersections of race, sexuality, class, gender, and ability. In each episode, field leaders from student liberation movements and academia deconstruct the exclusivity of sustainability activism and education. Today, as we discuss race and climate justice, with guest speaker Magid Magid at the Student Sustainability Summit, we are releasing episode 1 on Race. Listen to episode 1 of Liberating Sustainability now. Full transcripts are available for each episode.

SOS-UK commissioned this podcast and put a call out to students to run it. The podcast was produced and presented by Jelena Sofronijevic and Hatty Ruddick who introduce themselves below, and are joined in conversation with Larissa Kennedy, NUS and SOS-UK President, as Larissa asks them to share more about the podcast.

Hatty: Hi I'm Hatty, I'm a Trainee Business Teacher at the University of Bolton, after finishing my undergrad in Human Resources at the University of Salford, and my Masters in Humanitarianism and Conflict Response at the University of Manchester. I have just finished my term as one of the Womens' Officers at the University of Manchester SU and I am currently one of the Campaign's Coordinators for the Students' for Trees Council, where I have focussed on climate justice and accessibility, as well as being on the NUS National Scrutiny Council. I have been delivering workshops for the last year on accessible climate activism and the impacts of Climate Disaster on Women and Disabled people worldwide including at last year's Sustainability Summit and for Amnesty International, as well as being involved in Manchester People and Planet, Manchester BDS and Manchester Climate Strike campaigns.

While I was at the University of Salford I launched a radio show with Shock Radio, Manchester's biggest student radio station, called Shock Market Crash. I also had two podcasts: Brunch Time Podcast and Shock Live Lounge. During my time at Shock Radio, I was on the interviews team interviewing music acts, actors and politicians across Manchester. Recently, I launched my first independent podcast called Chronicles of a PGCE which documents my teacher training.

You can follow me and my future podcasts at @hattyeru on Twitter.

Jelena: Hello, I'm Jelena, and I'm an audio producer and University of Edinburgh Politics graduate. I am now an Associate Producer at PODMASTERS, working on topical political podcasts, OH GOD, WHAT NOW? (formerly REMAINIACS) and THE BUNKER. 

I use audio and narrative storytelling to deconstruct seemingly simple sociopolitical issues, and platform alternative, marginalised perspectives. My debut podcast documentary series, INDIAscussion (February 2020), unpacks environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability in the textile industry. Recorded on location in India and China, debates are presented in discussion with local farmers and artisans, to businesses and international design houses. I hosted events with Focus:India to promote and extend the discussion, and was invited to deliver the keynote speech and workshop at the Edinburgh Sustainable Innovation Conference (ESIC) 2020. I also produced a food sustainability podcast for Net Zero 2030: A Tortoise Moonshot (August 2020), led by Tortoise editor Giles Whittell. 

Beyond sustainability, I presented an episode of BBC Radio 4's Four Thought (September 2020) on modern Yugoslav diasporic identity, later selected for BBC Radio 4's Pick of the Week and featured on BBC Radio Shropshire. My new podcast series, EMPIRE LINES (October 2020), uncovers unexpected flows of Empires through artworks.

@jelsofron (Twitter) and jelsofron.com

Larissa: Why is a podcast on sustainability and intersectionality needed?

Hatty: Sustainability activism has massively taken off in recent years, however people in liberation groups have so often been excluded from these conversations and this activism. From personal experience, as a Disabled, working-class, LGBTQ+ woman I have really struggled to get involved in certain aspects of climate justice activism due to the narratives surrounding Disabled, Working Class and Queer people in sustainability. So often we have to fight in these spaces just to have a voice, but it is the people that hold power in these spaces that should be educating themselves on this. While there is plenty of academia on this subject, we know that academia is not accessible. This is why this podcast is so needed.

Jelena: Sustainability means more than environmental friendliness. It demands interdisciplinary, intercultural solutions, across (local, national, transnational) levels. Furthermore, blanket calls to �go vegan� or �buy local� represent the false absolutism that often defines sustainability. But perfect sustainability does not exist, and its suggestion often discourages individuals from pursuing more sustainable practices. Instead of instructing the listener, our podcast offers a plurality of different perspectives, demanding that the listener personally engages in these debates, and deeply considers their actions and responsibilities.

Larissa:  Why have you included a student and academic for each episode?

Jelena: We wanted to platform a variety of perspectives, to explore sustainability both in theory and in practice. The student and academic co-presenters shared great respect for each others� work, and some have even kept in touch since recording!

Hatty: Students do and will change the world. It is students that are incredibly prominent in activism spaces. This is why we included students. They are in these spaces fighting for a better world and they really know the problems that students in liberation spaces face in activism spaces. Whereas these academics have really been studying these topics for many years! The students and activists we spoke to are truly the experts!

Larissa: Who do you envisage this podcast being for?

Hatty: Personally, I think everyone can get something out of this podcast, whether it is people who want to understand sustainability activism, people who want an education in liberation struggles, or people who just want to have their experiences reaffirmed. I can see everybody listening and learning from this podcast. I�ve been doing work in this area for quite a few years, and I still learnt so much!

Jelena: Everyone! Liberating Sustainability considers how existing sustainability debates and activism systematically exclude and marginalise certain social groups. It offers an accessible introduction, free from the taboos and complicated language of typical sustainability discourse. 

Larissa: What will listeners of the podcast get out from listening?

Jelena: Liberating Sustainability offers pathways to closer cooperation between student and academic (and professional) sustainability field-leaders. Moreover, we find that the absolutist rhetoric and expectations of sustainable citizenship ignores individuals� particular needs, but also their potential agency and contributions. I hope that the podcast will make listeners think more carefully about sustainability, and encourage them to participate in individual and collective action in different ways.

Hatty: This podcast will teach you so much about the life experiences of marginalised people, not just activists, but all of us- because climate disaster will impact every single one of us. Listeners will learn about the impact of climate disaster, what work is going on globally and how we can change our activism to include the people that will be most affected.

Larissa: What did you learn through your involvement in creating the podcast?

Hatty: I learnt about the work that is going on outside of student spaces and work that is going on globally. We had some really interesting conversations with academics across the world which I really recommend listening to. So often in activism, we don�t actually reflect on our work. These conversations with students that I have actually organised with allowed me to reflect on the work that we have done together! It reminded me how important reflection on our organising is.

Jelena: I learned so much about how environmental crises are both products and producers of existing social inequalities, most affecting those already marginalised. For instance, Dr. Connie Russell talks about the connections between socioeconomic and gender privatisation. Political and business interests have individualised responsibility for sustainability, shifting initiative to the private, domestic sphere - which is predominantly occupied by women. As such, women bear a disproportionate level of responsibility for practicing �small-scale� sustainability. Gendering these practices also limits participation, by encouraging a view of sustainability as solely �women�s work�.

Larissa: What can students and students� unions do to make their sustainability work more intersectional?

Hatty: Actually listen to marginalised students and students in liberation groups. We are telling you what you need to do, so just listen to us! But it shouldn�t be up to marginalised students to educate you. There are plenty of resources out there, including this podcast, so please access them.

Jelena: Unions should encourage more spaces for open dialogue between student, academic, and professional voices. All of these groups have (different!) responsibilities in improving sustainable practices, and must cooperate to have any meaningful impact on this global issue.

Listen and subscribe to Liberating Sustainability on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts, and follow SOS-UK on Twitter to find out when each new episode is released. Full transcripts are available for each episode.

SOS-UK has also created an sustainability and intersectionality resource hub which lists various resources to help steer sustainability work and communications. Have a browse and help us develop this by sharing your recommended resources. 

Liberating Sustainability logo

Podcast details: 

Liberating Sustainability is an intersectional take on the climate emergency. In each episode, field-leaders from student liberation movements and academia deconstruct the exclusivity of sustainability activism and education.

Producer, Editor, Presenter: Jelena Sofronijevic (@jelsofron)
Producer, Presenter: Hatty Ruddick (@hattyeru)
Graphics: Hannah Robinson
Music: Organisms // Chad Crouch

Commissioned by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK).

FULL TRANSCRIPTS: drive.google.com/drive/folders/1lQEgzwshy2S_H74eWleZVR75vpRBAfqT?usp=sharing