ECR 2011: Energy and Environmental Sustainability


The inaugural Universitas 21 ECR workshop on Energy and Environmental Sustainability was held at the University of New South Wales, from 18 to 20 May 2011. 40 Participants from nine countries and thirteen U21 member universities attended, primarily from the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. The workshop received highly positive feedback in the evaluation by participants, as well as suggestions from participants that will be useful in planning further workshops in the series.



Professor Margaret Harding, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of New South Wales invited regional U21 members - University of Queensland, University of Melbourne and University of Auckland - to collaborate in planning and delivering the workshop. A steering committee with senior representatives from each university was established to provide oversight and to contribute to workshop content. Each university was also invited to put forward a mid-career researcher to be included in the program as invited speaker.

Workshop Programme

A collaborative approach to programme development with the local U21 partner universities in Australia/New Zealand was implemented. UNSW assigned a programme developer (Gro Frølund, Researcher Development) to work with partner universities from the steering committee to develop the content. The programme was developed to include activities which:

  1. were highly interactive   
  2. focused on career development for early career researchers
  3. allowed participants to interact and create a list of contacts
  4. developed awareness and skills in specific areas (bibliometrics, media training, industry linkages, research innovation and ECR challenges)
  5. included engaging, career-related talks by more senior U21 researchers
  6. featured an inspiring keynote address by an international researcher not from Australasia



The workshop programme consisted of two types of rated activities: invited speakers and interactive workshops conducted by partner universities. Non-rated activities included sightseeing, networking activities, campus tour and gala dinner. The workshop received an overall approval rating of 81% by participants. The approval rating refers to participants who either ‘agreed’ or ‘agreed strongly’ in the anonymous survey when asked if an activity was useful, engaging or relevant. Of the rated activities, on average participants rated invited speakers higher than interactive workshops (84% and 75% average respectively). Keynote speaker Prof Lutz Mädler (Bremen University, Germany) receiving the highest approval rating of all speakers and activities (96%). When surveyed on the topic of networking and collaboration, 85% replied that they had made contacts they might use in the future.

Participants were divided on the issue of whether or not they would have liked to present their own research. Some commented that it would have taken too long, others that there are enough discipline-specific conferences for that. However, some felt that it would have helped them establish future collaborations and to promote their own research, while several commented that the extensive printed program with photos and contact details would help them make and sustain the connections they need.


Professor Margaret Harding


13 June 2011