Programs

SOS International seeks to scale tried and tested, student-led approaches for sustainability and social justice. Built on a decade of experience, our programs are currently run in several countries around the world.

Two programs are delivered by SOS International, and several more programs are run by SOS International members. Read about each program by clicking through or scrolling down.

Programs delivered by SOS International

Green Impact is a program designed to foster environmentally and socially sustainable practice within organizations

A Green Office is a student-led sustainability office that informs, connects and supports students and staff to act on sustainability


Programs run by SOS International members

Youth-led campaign to reorient the education system around climate crisis

Sustainability in the spotlight at your campus for one week

Unrestricted access to third-level education and support for those living in Direct Provision

A push for whole-institution curriculum reform and accreditation

Young people mobilize, engage and empower other students to act on sustainability

An inter-dorm room energy and recycling competition

Students demand that the Chamber put planet before profit

Urging universities and colleges to set ambitious carbon targets

We help SOS International members replicate their successful program


Green Impact

Green Impact is a program designed to foster environmentally and socially sustainable practice within organizations. Through a bespoke online toolkit and tailored support, the program promotes staff engagement and student leadership to create behavior change.

With Green Impact, you motivate colleagues and peers to implement concrete actions on sustainability. Together, you work towards environmental and socio-economic goals in a structured manner. At the same time, you raise awareness on sustainability issues.

Green Impact is highly adaptable to fit your organization’s context. A modular toolkit offers your community tangible and relevant actions to transition to a more sustainable future. SOS International supports you throughout the whole Green Impact program. We provide professional support, accredited training and years of experience.

12+ years of Green Impact

The Green Impact program was developed by the National Union of Students in the UK (NUS, now operating as SOS-UK) in 2008 and has since spread across the world. Today, the program is active in more than 200 organizations, and across a wide range of sectors. SOS International currently delivers Green Impact in the Netherlands, Belgium and France, and is looking to expand to more countries.

There is commendable demonstration of impact and wide uptake, and the project is an exemplar of youth leadership in educational change. 

Jury of the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development 

5

Universities taking part in 2021

18

Green Impact programs delivered by SOS International

2263

Total actions taken as a result of Green Impact

Green Impact partners 

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Green Office Movement

The Green Office Movement empowers students, staff and academics to collaboratively advance sustainability in higher education and beyond.

The Green Office Model is at the core of this movement. A Green Office is a student-led & staff-supported sustainability office that informs, connects and supports students and staff to act on sustainability.

Green Offices take a whole-institution approach towards sustainable universities, promoting community engagement, education for sustainable development, sustainability governance and green campus projects.

Unlike traditional, volunteer-based sustainability initiatives, a Green Office empowers students to lead on sustainability in close collaboration with staff, with institutional support in the form of  funding, office space, and an official mandate from university management.

The Green Office Model is an outstanding project to train young people as transformation agents.

Jury of the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development

58

Green Offices

350

Students and staff currently involved

675

Annual projects

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Green Offices around the world

 


Teach the future

Teach the Future is an inclusive, well organised and persistent campaign by secondary and tertiary education students to repurpose the education systems of the world, around the climate emergency and ecological crisis.

Why do we need climate education? The current and future generations of students are going to grow up in a world greatly affected by climate change. We deserve to be taught about this so that we can understand the impacts we will face. We must be equipped with the skills to live sustainably so that we can limit the progression of climate breakdown as much as possible. Teach the future is the first campaign to address this issue from a student perspective, on a national scale.

How students are involved

Teach the Future is led by students from all parts of the education system (from secondary school to university) who want to fight for climate education. Students create social media content, plan campaign strategies, meet with Members of Parliament, fundraise, write blog posts, communicate and collaborate with supporting organisations, speak at events and so much more. The volunteering experience is made as accessible as possible, because everyone has different strengths and abilities.

Why it’s in SOS International’s portfolio

Teach the Future is co-organized and supported by SOS International member SOS-UK. It has been run in England (since October 2019) and Scotland (since July 2020), and is soon to launch in Wales. The campaign can be easily replicated due to its uncomplicated structure, the many open-source resources available, and the high potential for local youth to get engaged.

How you can run the program

SOS-UK is happy to support you in running Teach the future in your country.  They are currently putting together the resources for delivery outside of the UK. These will published soon. In the meantime, please find the resources for England here and Scotland here.

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Sustainability Week International

The concept of a sustainability week is simple: a group of volunteer students organizes a week full of interesting events and activities in order to raise awareness and actions on sustainability among students, university employees and the broader public in order to create a momentum for change and transformation. All week, organizers follow a code of conduct including guidelines for a fair, responsible and sustainable organization. All events are free of charge and open for everyone.

Higher education is a key moment in time to increase awareness on sustainable topics among young people. By organizing a sustainability week, we can make a change together, empower students all over the world and build a resilient and strong network of changemakers.

How students are involved

Sustainability week is driven and run by student volunteers. By organizing a sustainability week, you develop student leadership, soft and hard professional skills and sustainability competences, while taking the opportunity to network within and beyond your own institution.

Why it’s in SOS International’s portfolio

Sustainability Week International is a member of SOS International. The concept was established in Switzerland in 2013.

How you can run the program

The international network for student-led Sustainability Weeks at higher education institutions supports local teams all over the world. They provide documents that help you to start a Sustainability Week at your higher education institution. Furthermore, an international experienced student advisor will support your organization. Find the resources here.

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Migrant Minds Matter

Migrant Minds Matter seeks to promote unrestricted access to third-level education and comprehensive and meaningful supports for those living within the Direct Provision in Ireland, asylum seekers, migrants and those who are undocumented. Direct Provision is a system of asylum seeker accommodation used in the Republic of Ireland. The system has been criticised by human rights organisations as illegal, inhuman and degrading. 

This campaign has a particular focus on access to third level education for those within the Direct Provision system, migrants, asylum seekers and those who are undocumented within Ireland. A large amount of work has been done in Ireland to highlight the inhumane Direct Provision system in Ireland, yet little with a particular focus on access to higher and further education in Ireland. This is where the Migrant Minds Matter campaign aims to make a difference.  

How students are involved

As part of Migrant Minds Matter, students are invited to engage in a number of actions from a list of resources on 10000students.ie, including signing and promoting a petition to the Government, buying merchandise which is supporting an education fund within MASI and recording an action they’re going to take within their own campus. The campaign itself is partly run by students.

Why it’s in SOS International’s portfolio

This campaign is jointly run by SOS International member USI, in collaboration with STAND and the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI). The campaign has the potential to be replicated in countries outside of Ireland.

How you can run the program

This joint campaign involved three national organisations and focused on supporting local and national actions with a joint website platform. This campaign is developing further in the coming months to include a focus on decolonisation of the curriculum. If you are interested in running Migrant Minds Matter in your country, USI can help you realising this.

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Responsible futures

Responsible Futures is a whole-institution approach to embedding social responsibility and sustainability across the formal and informal curriculum in both further and higher education. It is a supported change programme and accreditation mark that works to put sustainability at the heart of student learning.

Sustainability isn’t just doing the recycling properly. We need an education system which creates graduates who meet the challenges of the century ahead, not repeat the mistakes of the century behind us. We’ve developed this externally-assessed accreditation mark to assist all institutions in helping students to gain the skills and experience they need to thrive as global citizens.

The Responsible Futures framework facilitates a close working partnership between students’ unions and their institutions through a selection of criteria drawn from good practice across the sector.  Partnerships take part in a cohort with other participating institutions and share resources and learn together as they proceed through the accreditation. When ready, partnerships are audited by a trained team of students. Accreditations are awarded and remain valid for two years.

How students are involved

The partnership model of Responsible Futures requires institutions and their Students’ Unions to work collaboratively and to transform their education provisions for sustainability both strategically and through an embedded approach. This way, students co-create the learning experience at their institutions. 

Students also gain specific leadership experience through the programme by being trained to conduct their partnership’s Responsible Futures audit bi-annually to attain and retain accreditation.

Why it’s in SOS International’s portfolio

Responsible Futures is currently delivered by SOS International member SOS-UK at 30 universities and colleges in the UK. They are in the process of launching an international Responsible Futures and are seeking partnerships to take part. 

How you can run the program

Partnerships can join the programme at any time and it generally takes 2-3 years before they feel ready to be audited. SOS-UK can provide you with all the support and resources needed to run the program. You can find information about the annual membership fee here.

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Sustainability Influencers

Sustainability Influencers want to mobilize, engage and empower students to take action on sustainability issues. The program combines bottom-up thinking with a wish to have a broad influence on important institutions in society such as educational institutions and political institutions. The influencers actively participate in the sustainability debate – bringing the youth voice. 

The Sustainability Influencers program achieves its goals by fostering interaction between students and professionals, organizing workshops and events, and involving key sustainability practitioners.

How students are involved

The Sustainability Influencers program empowers students to become future leaders in sustainability. It is a volunteer and educational program that runs for 5 months. 21 ambitious students who are from multiple educational backgrounds and who wish to make a sustainable impact in the world, are selected. Through the program, students gain extensive knowledge on the  Sustainable Development Goals and their applicability. They get to use the tools provided by the program to mobilize, engage and empower other students to act on various areas regarding sustainability.

Why it’s in SOS International’s portfolio

Sustainability Influencers is a program by SOS International member Station – a Student & innovation House, and is currently run in Denmark for the 3rd year in a row. 

The program offers a learning journey for students involved and eager to contribute to a more sustainable world. It can be easily implemented in other student environments as the core idea is to build capacity on sustainability knowledge, to partner up with key stakeholders and to apply this knowledge to make a difference in local communities. 

How you can run the program

Station is happy to support you with advise and materials in running Sustainability Influencers in your institution or country.

The program requires a team of coordinators with knowledge of project management, sustainability and partnership-building, who can support a pool of committed young individuals. Station has engaged a team of 5 student coordinators, who dedicate 5 to 10 hours per week to this program. Their budget for one program cycle of 5 months is 45.000 DKK (€6000 / £5400 / $7400). 

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Student Switch Off

Student Switch Off is a not-for-profit international campaign encouraging student action on climate change. It is run as energy-saving, water-saving and recycling competitions within halls of residence at universities.

The campaign provides easy ways for students to incorporate sustainability into their lives and to encourage their community to do the same. It encourages students to take personal action on the climate crisis.

How students are involved

Students are given opportunities to take part in regular social media competitions, on-site activities and training to become campaign ambassadors.

Why it’s in SOS International’s portfolio

Student Switch Off is part of SOS-UK, a member of SOS International. It is currently delivered in the UK, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania and Romania.

How you can run the program

SOS-UK can deliver the programme at your university. The programme can be run over a whole academic year or for a designated period of time. All activities are currently being run virtually, and we can also support you to run face to face activities as required. You can find more information about the standard programme costs here. SOS-UK can also work with you to create a bespoke student engagement campaign to fit your requirements.

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Lobby for Climate

Change The Chamber is a bipartisan group of students taking on the largest dark money, pro-fossil fuel group in the United States, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The core team works directly with large corporations to educate their executives on their power to influence the Chamber and implement steps to improve its climate action.

The campaign hopes to make long-lasting change by focusing on the actions of the U.S. Chamber. By changing the behaviors and actions of this entity, it is possible to remove one of the central barriers to climate progress in the U.S. Lobby for Climate uses many different methods in order to achieve their goal: direct communication with companies, social media storms, informative blogs and reports, etc.   

How students are involved

A key element of accountability is public exposure. The campaign is coordinated with student groups and other organizations internationally to get the word out, primarily through social media. The hashtags #LobbyforClimate and #ChangetheChamber are used to amplify the message. Students and youth who want to become more involved can apply to be members of the core team. 

Why it’s in SOS International’s portfolio

Change The Chamber is supported by SOS International member The U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development.

Although the campaign is focused on a U.S. entity, the actions of the Chamber of Commerce have a direct impact on climate legislation passed in the U.S., which has world-wide effects. Many of the Chamber’s member companies sell their products and services internationally, and the greater the international support is, the more likely the Chamber will listen to the pressure. 

How you can run the program

The current team’s efforts are on-going with the greatest need for support in amplifying tweets and posts on social media. They also accept monetary donations for any legal work they may require in the future. 

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Carbon Targets 

The carbon targets campaign calls on UK universities and colleges to set ambitious carbon targets in order to tackle the climate and ecological crisis. SOS-UK have collected targets from across institutions and scored them by ambition, allowing students to clearly see who is serious about taking action. 

We know that in order to have any hope of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees we need to commit to and start delivering bold targets and this campaign creates a resource where students and staff can easily compare commitments from different institutions, learning from each other and striving to set ambitious targets and action plans.

How students are involved

The campaign is aimed at students, giving them the tools and information to call upon their universities and colleges to set, or improve, their carbon target. 

The campaign is also born from national policy, passed by students at the National Union of Students (UK) conference in 2020. The policy mandated NUS and SOS-UK to “research and publish every university and college’s carbon reduction plans and compare them like for like [and] support student campaigners and officers and laggard institutions to call for their institutions to commit to being net-zero by 2030.”

Why it’s in SOS International’s portfolio

Carbon Targets is run by SOS-UK, an SOS International member. It is included here as a potential blue-print for campaigners to use to push for ambitious carbon targets in educational institutions.

How you can run the program

Organisations can use the methodology developed by SOS-UK to apply to the targets that are collected. The campaign requires initial research into institutional carbon targets in order to populate the resource.

Some communications work needs to be done to launch the resource and spread the word, and the campaign requires some ongoing monitoring to update targets and support students using the resource.

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Your program?

If you have a proven and impactful program on sustainability and/or social justice and you are able to help others implement it, we offer the platform to do so.

Want to bring your program into SOS’ portfolio?

Read more on the membership page