We are a new student magazine focusing on Glasgow Caledonian Universityâ€™s students and their stories. So many great people at our university are part of creating a better world for themselves and others - both in and outside the university. We believe these stories should not go unheard. We champion underdogs!
Magnus Magnusson Fund supports Climate Justice research in Vanuatu
Saving One Donkey at a Time
Building a Nationwide Culture of Business as a Force for Good
Taking Action for a Greener Future
A Leader in the Making
Why should I read this: Funded research Travel Eye opening
Magnus Magnusson Fund supports
Climate Justice research in Vanuatu
Morgan Mickelson, an international graduate of the MSc Climate Justice programme at Glasgow Caledonian University, recalls her experience of travelling to the South Pacific to conduct research on building climate resiliency with women in Vanuatu, enabled by the Magnus Magnusson Fund. 1
Prior to attending Glasgow Caledonian University, I had worked for a number of years in the environmental sustainability field in the United States. It was my experiences in this field that led me to the realization that many of the â€˜environmentally friendlyâ€™ measures were only attainable for those with the means to purchase them. Yet the same people who often cannot afford the sustainable options are also those more harshly impacted by climate change. This realization led me to pursue a MSc in Climate Justice at GCU. Through the Climate Justice programme, I learned of the countless injustices that people around the world face due to climate change.
A couple of months into my time at GCU, I learned about the Magnus Magnusson award and how students with big ambitions at GCU were stepping out of their comfort zone to achieve their big dream. The Magnusson award funds a number of projects and opportunities each year, that allows students to create new learning experiences and once in a lifetime opportunities that align with the Common Good mission of the university.
Soon after learning of this unique award, I also learned of an organization in the South Pacific - the Vanuatu Skills Partnership - that is working to create an inclusive and prosperous economy that works for all individuals through effective partnerships and skills training. An inclusive economy is vital to the island because the South Pacific is on the front lines of climate change. As we had learned in the Climate Justice programme, an economy that does not exclude certain groups of people, particularly women, is a key factor to enable a community to recover and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Working to create an inclusive and prosperous economy that works for all individuals through effective partnerships and skills training. 4
It was then I realized that with the help of the Magnus Magnusson award I could travel to Vanuatu. Traveling to Vanuatu would allow me to witness the effects of climate change and to see the success of the Vanuatu Skills Partnership program first hand. Which is exactly what I did.
My experience in Vanuatu was truly eye-opening in more ways than one. I will never forget watching a mama in Santo weave the hat that she would later sell at a market, while sitting barefoot on the dirt floor of her thatch roof kitchen. 7
The funding from the Magnusson award also enabled me to travel to Malekula Island where I spoke with Naomi, a leader in her community. From her desk covered in a floral tablecloth, she told me about the incredible work she has achieved: the council of
women that she leads and the cooperative business model she created, which is allowing women to sell their goods for higher profits. The success of this business model in Malampa is so impactful, that it is being implemented throughout Vanuatu on other islands.
My experience in Vanuatu was truly eye opening in more ways than one. 10
I learned and grew so much from this experience, more than I could have ever imagined. Yet, I believe my biggest takeaway is that our climate solutions must be locally driven and by definition that means inclusivity. The solutions must be driven by and inclusive of those who are often excluded and most impacted by climate change.
Now that my time in Vanuatu has come to an end and I have completed the MSc, I have returned to the States. I have returned with the intention of applying these global lessons on a local level throughout communities in my own country.
To current GCU students with their own big ideas: take a chance and make your own ambitions a reality! We often think that it’s not possible for us, but I would say if you are reading this article, then you probably have the resources and are capable of more than you know. I would have never had this opportunity if I didn’t take a big chance and move abroad for grad school. While I was applying for this award, I kept asking if my ideas were ‘okay’ or if I was ‘allowed’. Don’t second guess yourself.
“The Magnus Magnusson award is an incredible opportunity for students to shine while creating a lasting impact. I can’t wait to see the next round of students that are empowered to create change.” 12
Why should I read this: Animal rescue Charitable cause
Saving One Donkey at a Time
Working in a charity was the goal. Little did she know, she would be spending her time taking care of and rehabilitating donkeys at the nearby sanctuary. Meet Heather, a first year International Marketing with Spanish student who spent part of her gap year working with donkeys and intends to continue to do so in her spare time.
Heather has always had a desire to work in a charity and found animal charities specifically attractive. In her gap year, she had the time to do just that. She started working at one charity, but soon realised it didn’t quite fit her values. She had heard about a local donkey sanctuary and after learning her friend’s parents knew the owner, decided to get in touch. One conversation later and they decided to give it a go; she was welcomed into the team and soon became actively involved in the charity. In the beginning, the plan was to spend just a couple of hours at the sanctuary, but as she learnt more and more about the donkeys and how to train them, she spent more and more time helping out. A sanctuary is different than an adoption centre. At the sanctuary, some of the donkeys stay for life. They’re in need of care and training – some due to being mistreated, others neglected. Heather had the opportunity to help treat a variety of donkeys. One had never met another donkey and didn’t know how to behave around others. Another one had a fear of being in an enclosed space with a human, and the team had to gradually
introduce them to it. It is important to show the donkeys they can be appreciated. Where some methods included building up their muscles and working to prevent misbehaviour, other tasks included cuddling and showering them with affection. Heather feels “it was as good for me as it was good for them.” The sanctuary never uses aggressive or punitive training, instead they practice positive enforcement. This could be done by stroking the donkey, communicating to it that everything is okay. Another task includes walking the donkeys which Heather says “is the best thing I learnt.” Tasks like these help to rehabilitate the donkeys and provide them with a safe environment.
“ the fittest I’ve ever been – both physically and mentally 18
The team at the sanctuary including Heather would collectively make a plan on how to treat a donkey. This way, there was a shared understanding of the tasks needed to be undertaken. A strong sense of community at the charity is essential. But a community at the sanctuary wasnâ€™t the only one used. The sanctuary accessed an online community whenever they would struggle, to seek the best advice from various people. This online network helps the different sanctuaries efficiently help as many donkeys as possible. Heather has learnt a lot from her time at the sanctuary, lending her hand and becoming part of a community helping animals live better and giving them fairer circumstances. A broad skill set was achieved which she continues to use in her work with the donkeyshelping animals live better and giving them fairer circumstances. A broad skill set was achieved which she continues to use in her work with the donkeys. For Heather, it was not just about working in any charity. She decided to focus on her personal values and to look at smaller charities and unseen issues such as donkeys being used as tools. 19
The experience for Heather was incredibly rewarding: “To be able to see the difference over three months of a donkey who couldn’t walk on a lead, who couldn’t come near you. And suddenly, they’re coming up to you for a cuddle, for a stroke, nibble your sleeve for attention. It is the best thing. Life changing.” There are never too many volunteers. It may seem difficult in a big city, but as soon as you look outside the box and to the smaller charities, there will certainly be someone who needs your hand, Heather strongly believes.
Find your passion and find someone who shares it - passion is contagious. If you don’t have the time to volunteer, you can also donate! Often charities abroad need even more money, and you can contribute by donating to support their growth and enable them to continue with their missions for a better world – saving one donkey at a time.
Why should I read this: Changing businesses Work and study
Building a Nationwide Culture of Business as a Force for Good Recent Glasgow Caledonian University graduate Kali Gibson puts her studies into action through her work with Scotland CAN B: The first nationwide programme combining Scotlandâ€™s vision to become a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship with a global movement to drive business as a force for good. 21
I used to think the same thing.
My name is Kali Gibson and I am a recent graduate of the MSc Social Business and Microfinance (now Social Innovation) programme at Glasgow Caledonian University. Originally from the United States, I was able to spend a little over a year in Glasgow while studying and absolutely loved it. I have always had a great passion for addressing the injustices facing our world and using my skills and resources to make a difference. This passion is what led me to my work in assisting companies to use their business as a force for good by creating positive impact and less negative impact. I have spent the last six years working for organisations aiming to create an inclusive economy where shared and durable prosperity is experienced by all.
I have always had a
great passion for addressing the
injustices facing our world
These interests led me to the programme at GCU and ultimately to the organisation Scotland CAN B (SCB), which I have worked with as an impact consultant since coming in Fall 2018. SCB is the first nationwide programme combining Scotlandâ€™s vision to become a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship with a global movement to drive business as a force for good. Our ambition is to build a nationwide culture of impact management; equipping businesses as agents for placebased systems change.
Taking a step back, I should share where my passions and drive for this kind of work has come from. As a daughter of a small business owner in a small town, I was brought up learning how to treat customers, employees, and suppliers fairly. I loved business but that quickly changed when my dadâ€™s business had to close due to large, multinational organisations moving close to my town. I was devastated and despised business and the harm it could create to a local community and personally, my family. Once I discovered the concept of businesses operating differently, for the good of the world, I felt like I found my professional and personal mission. Since that ah-ha moment, I have dedicated my professional life to working to support movements that are trying to change the way business is done.
Learn about a different way to do business one that contributes to the wellbeing and needs of all and how you too can put your passions into action while being a student at GCU.
SCB is made up of a team of impact consultants, like me, that believe that business needs to play an important role in agents for systems change. Much of the work we do is fostering ecosystem partnerships, providing open spaces for conversation and collaboration, and being a part of a movement working towards placebased systems change in Scotland. On a very practical note, SCB equips businesses with the tools and mindset needed to
understand the impact of their business on all stakeholders. As an impact consultant I help lead workshops, webinars and events where entrepreneurs and ecosystem partners are taken through an impact journey designed for them to reflect on their business mission and theory of change, learn methods to measure their impact, and provide support on managing, improving and collaborating on it over time.
Working with SCB made my learnings and modules taken at GCU even more valuable. I have been able to put my education into immediate practical action and have been able to use my experience to speak into my university work. I would challenge and encourage every student at GCU to find a volunteer or work experience that speaks to your passion, and pursue it, even if for a small amount of time while you are at university. Mixing the practical with the theoretical is so powerful and will make your time as a student even more valuable. As for meâ€Śwhat am I up to now? I am back in the United States, still working virtually and sometimes in person for SCB as well as consulting at the organisation B Lab as their Impact and Sustainability Training Manager. My time in Scotland was invaluable and my work with Scotland CAN B played a huge role in making it that way. I will continue to pursue my passion in re-inventing capitalism into something that works for all and creating an inclusive wellbeing economy in Scotland, the US, and around the globe.
Why should I read this: Climate change action Activism
Taking Action for a Greener Future
An internship with Greenpeace empowered her to take further action to create a greener future for everyone. Meet Laura Breitkreutz, a climate activist who not only dedicates her time to actions on land, but also drives a speedboat to carry activists out to oil rigs. 29
Laura Bre is a recent graduate of the MSc Climate Justice programme at Glasgow Caledonian University. Since graduating, she has been volunteering for Greenpeace Germany at their headquarters in Hamburg. But interestingly, her story with Greenpeace doesnâ€™t start there. As part of Lauraâ€™s undergrad, and thanks to her friends, she managed to land an internship at Greenpeace in Germany. Thrown in at the deep end, Laura was trained to read sea maps and drive a speedboat - skills she has used frequently out at sea.
An interest to create a better world is what led Laura to get involved in tackling climate change. She believes climate change is the most pressing challenge humans are facing. For her, solutions revolve around taking matters into our own hands and taking action. Believing Greenpeace to be the largest and most effective non-profit fighting climate change, Laura was set on participating and playing her part, and has had many great experiences since.
Climate change is the most pressing challenge humans are facing 32
When talking about the actions, her face lights up, and she laughs. She takes a moment to think before explaining how she and other activists went to Vienna in Austria to protest against CETA (Canadian European Trade Agreement): “If the big countries can trade freely, we are excluding third-world nations that are already struggling.” This action included blocking an entrance to a government building in Austria. Others have included driving climbers by boat to an oil rig where they then ascended the rig and hung up massive signs. Laura has been in charge of driving and keeping the base on the speedboat. Emphasising that it is vital to trust each other when on such actions, she says “most of us don’t know each other that well, so we need to have full trust in each other and remember why we are doing this.”
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We need to have full trust in each other. 34
I want a change. I am standing up for this change.
You’re actually doing something. I want a change. I am standing up for this change. I am not just discussing things, but I am active whether it is an oil rig or a building.” Laura finds it extremely rewarding to be part of a community that believes in creating a better future by taking matters into their own hands and protesting against the wasteful culture of society. Laura notes that it is especially easy to be part of these actions when you are a student, as “when you study, you have extra free time.” Furthermore, as a volunteer, Greenpeace pays for her accommodation and food when on an action. She mentions how it can be hard to make a difference while in Glasgow, but that there are local nonprofits fighting climate change such as Greenpeace Glasgow and Extinction Rebellion. Glasgow Caledonian University has its own Extincition Rebellion society which Laura helped launch. She also shares how anyone can take action to be an effective climate activist by sharing messages on social media, creating stickers and hanging them around the city, and more importantly, to change your own behaviour by driving less and reducing your meat consumption. Laura champions the belief that we can take individual and collaborative action to ensure a greener future, and a better world for us all. 36
Why should I read this: University event TEDx
A Leader in the Making An avid TED talk watcher becomes an organiser of his own TEDx event. Meet Robbie, a Glasgow Caledonian University student who is on a mission to create, inspire, and lead. 37
Robbie Radev is a third year International Business student, travelling all the way from his hometown, Plovdiv, in Bulgaria to study in Glasgow. Robbie has been exceeding expectations by putting in endless hours of hard work into numerous different projects in and around Glasgow Caledonian University. First and foremost, he is the License Holder and Organiser for TEDxGlasgowCaledonianUniversity, as well as being the President of the GCU International Business Society, and a member of the GCU Bulgarian Society. It doesnâ€™t stop there though; alongside his academic work, Robbie also works two jobs.
His drive to become a great leader began in March 2018 when Robbie became President of GCUâ€™s International Business Society. When whispers of GCU running their own TEDx Conference began to surface within the society, Robbie saw this as an incredible opportunity to get students engaged and involved beyond their coursework. By November 2018, the license to run the TEDx conference was in Robbieâ€™s hands, and a team of 30-plus hardworking and passionate students formed to build the event. With a business plan, a vision and a ton of determination at the ready, he also gathered the support of multiple tutors, sponsors, and funding from the university itself.
and do something 38
Robbie has always been an advocate for sharing ideas, and in the lead up to this conference, wanted to place emphasis on the conference sharing ‘ideas worth spreading’ – TED’s main mission. He says he was truly inspired after watching a TED talk by James Veitch, who transformed spam email into a global phenomenon. After observing this altered perception of a standard element of most people’s day-to-day lives, Robbie realised that all it takes is one bizarre idea to change the world, and to make a difference. For this reason, Robbie and the branding team formed this year’s theme: Unfolding Good Together. This is based around the concept of The Common Good - the university’s key mission being to make a positive difference in the communities it serves.
On October 12th 2019, speakers on both a local and global scale came together to transform their own journey into shared ideas, covering a range of topics. Vicky Brock, a start-up guru, talked about the six steps to creating your own business and motivated the audience to discover their own ideas and explore them. Jeff Garner, an internationally successful fashion designer, arrived from America to share his tried and tested methods in sustainable fashion and encouraged people to think twice about their clothing choices. Mike Scott, owner of Scotland’s largest social media company, Hydrogen, spoke about the importance of transparency in branding. The day brought laughter, tears and feelings of overwhelm from successful collaboration.
Following the conference, Robbie’s inbox was flooded with feedback from attendees. They let him know that they truly were impressed by the incredible efforts of the team in organising the event, and that they were moved by the subjects that were discussed. Sponsors are already requesting spots for next year’s conference, and the team has begun forming again to design GCU’s 2020 TEDx Conference. Despite the clear success of the event, Robbie wanted to emphasise that not everything was ‘smooth sailing’. The team certainly had struggles throughout the process, facing technical difficulties, miscommunications, and occasionally a lack of ideas. Robbie also stressed that the organisation of the event as a whole was a lot of pressure, and sometimes brought him bouts of self-doubt and anxiety that he then had to deal with. However, with the support of his team, his co-organiser Martyna Kowalek, and his family and friends, Robbie overcame these hardships and built a resilient mindset allowing him to push through these feelings of failure, to create an extraordinary day worth remembering.
Robbieâ€™s aspirations for the future revolve heavily around continuing to lead strong and powerful teams, and he encourages other people to get involved in similar projects. He speaks often about how his experiences in volunteer work truly built up his confidence and skills, both socially and professionally, giving him the experience he needed to create something truly wonderful. Robbie hopes to start his very own business, and it is undeniable the work he is currently involved in will help him to achieve this. By believing in himself and his abilities, Robbie Radev has built an incredibly valuable event for GCU to be proud of, and is well on his way to achieving his mission of encouraging others to build up their own self-confidence and begin taking steps towards their dreams.
times a failure
time a success
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