It may seem unlikely to connect corporate sustainability and a public body, but not when the increasingly more attentive and aware social group, students, are involved. In Italy, the right to education is constitutionally enshrined in article 34, which affirms that the lack of economic means must not limit the possibility of reaching the highest levels of study. The Italian Republic has the duty of making this right effective by awarding scholarships, bursaries, and other provisions through competitions. In any social context, the written rules always follow one of two paths: either they remain solely in writing, or they take on life thanks to effective, responsible decisions which can have a tangible impact. The 60 people who work in Ardiss (the regional body for the right to study in the Italian region Friuli Venezia Giulia) are there to ensure that worthy students can complete their studies, through providing dormitories, cafeterias, and shared spaces. This body represents a real community of people, with 926 spaces it is, today, the largest population in the region which offers an independent, healthy, and young experience in collective residential accommodation.
Forward-thinking at Ardiss
Recently, Ardiss has demonstrated an unprecedented way of forward-thinking, deciding to adopt a toll like Foxwin which allows students who use the service to suggest ideas, solutions, and innovation for their own living experiences. Specifically, the management of the body decided to create an ideas contest with all employees and 10 student representatives.
The most popular ideas
In this competition, the most popular ideas were as follows:
- Repurposing goods no longer used by Ardiss
Ardiss could decide to offer its now obsolete IT equipment and office furnishings to charities, schools, or student associations.
- Planting new trees
This idea outlines the possibility of a student gardening project, with the help of an organisation which works with disabled young people, or older citizens. In this case, the idea would be to supply training and valuable experience to young people and activity to older people: a winning combination, combining socialisation and skills with an activity beneficial for the company.
- Infographics for persuasive communication
Announcing a competition for students to create infographics (symbols and images which quickly and simply communicate a message) to place around communal areas, rooms and offices to serve as reminders for sustainable behaviour. To give simple but often forgotten examples: turning off the tap, switching off unnecessary lights, not throwing waste in the toilet, separating rubbish, etc.
- Student environmental guidelines
Introducing rules in student houses and common areas to serve as ‘The Ten Student Commandments for the Environment,’ listing actions to do or avoid so as to use the Ardiss buildings in the most environmentally friendly way possible. These guidelines would be put up in every room or place students use.
- Recycling as a game
A challenge between different student houses, to find out who is the most environmentally “sustainable.” As a result, a score would be calculated for each house based on:
- tidiness and cleanliness of rooms (assessed during the regular inspections carried out by Ardiss)
- tidiness and cleanliness of common areas (random checks)
- checking which house separates their rubbish and recycling best.
A collective shift
An awareness of current, responsible, and direct actions for the environment is shown by the care and attention given to the design and decision-making processes. The recent event I Support Sustainability, held in Gorizia on April 10th, is a clear example of this, sponsored by the Regional Department of Labour, Andisu (the Italian national association of right-to-study organisations) and, of course, Ardiss. The event was also a practical opportunity to analyse the actions proposed by students, explaining the ongoing development process of the Regional Sustainable Development Strategy, in relation to the 17 global objectives of the United Nations: Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Thanks to the project’s working method and its four cornerstones of study, analysis, commitment and proposal, the region Friuli Venezia Giulia determined that shared behaviour and responsibility are examples of a new form of education. This is in tune with the beliefs of Ardiss’ management, who know just how much the community needs attention and action on global issues which have been underestimated and neglected for too long.
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