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 student-led programs on sustainability and social justice are delivered by SOS International, and several more programs are run by SOS International members. Read about each by clicking on the logos below or scrolling down.

Note: programs are tagged with topics: #curriculum change, #advocacy, #student leadership, #social justice, #behavior change, #community engagement, #ranking, #cross-cutting

Programs delivered by SOS International

Green Impact SOS International#behavior change #community engagement

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

Green Office Movement SOS International#cross-cutting

A Green Office is a student-led sustainability hub that informs, connects and supports students and staff to act on sustainability, using a whole-institution approach.


Programs run by SOS International members

In the spotlight: current programs to engage with now

#advocacy #ranking #student leadership Lobby for climate Change the chamber

#advocacy

#cross-cutting

Put pressure on higher education institutions to commit to science-based climate targets

Students demand that the US Chamber of Commerce put planet before profit

 

Website for sharing of solutions! Add or find your next campaign, program, project or event


Additional programs you can replicate

 

Teach the future#curriculum change #advocacy Sustainability Week International#community engagement Migrant Minds Matter#social justice

Youth-led campaign to reorient the education system around the 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

Responsible futures nus#curriculum change

Sustainability Influencers#student leadership
#community engagement
Student Switch Off NUS#behavior change

A push for whole-institution curriculum reform and accreditation

Students learn to mobilize, engage and empower other students to act on sustainability

An inter-dorm room energy and recycling competition

#ranking

Carbon Targets#advocacy #ranking

#community engagement
#behavior change

Students run a national ranking of universities according to their sustainability performance

Urging universities and colleges to set ambitious carbon targets

Student organizations compete across cities for the most sustainable introduction period.

SOS International program

 

We help SOS International members scale their impactful programs. Register to enter yours!

 


Green Impact

SOS International Green ImpactGreen 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.

13+ 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.

UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development Laureate 2016 Green ImpactThere 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 

6

Universities taking part in 2021

19

Green Impact programs delivered by SOS International

2263

Total actions taken as a result of Green Impact

Green Impact partners 

Want to know more?


Green Office Movement

Green Office movement logoThe 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.

UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development laureate 2015 Green Office MovementThe 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

unesco green citizens green office movement

Since the movement was launched, 60 sustainability hubs have been set up in 10 countries and 4 continents. In 10 years, they have mobilised more than 11 million euros of funding to support sustainable development and created more than 300 jobs.

Unesco Green Citizens 2020

65

Green Offices

690

Students and staff involved

748

Annual projects

Want to know more?

  • Read all about it on www.greenofficemovement.org and take the free online course to set up your Green Office
  • See the introduction slides below
  • Contact Maartje, Green Office Movement Coordinator at SOS International
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Green Offices around the world


Teach the future

teach the futureTeach 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.

Want to know more?


Sustainability Week International

Sustainability Week InternationalThe 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. Since the concept was established in Switzerland in 2013, it has grown to become an international network. Being part of SOS can help it spread even more globally.

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.

Want to know more?

Sustainability Week International team


Migrant Minds Matter

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 the Union of Students Ireland (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 organizations and focused on supporting local and national actions with a joint website platform. This campaign is developing further 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.

Want to know more?

Migrant Minds Matter

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Responsible futures

Responsible futures NUSResponsible 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

Partners 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.

Want to know more?


Sustainability Influencers

Sustainability InfluencersSustainability 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). 

Want to know more?

Sustainability Influencers team


Student Switch Off

Student Switch Off NUSStudent 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 offered by 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.

Want to know more?

Student Switch Off group picture


Lobby for Climate

Lobby for Climate Change the Chamber logoChange 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 deep and long-lasting change by focusing on the actions of the U.S. Chamber. By changing the behaviors of this entity, it is possible to remove one of the central barriers to climate progress. 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

So far, Change the Chamber has contributed to the Chamber’s radical shift to supporting a market-based price on carbon emission in January 2021 and supporting the United States’ rejoining the Paris Agreement. The campaign has reached 68+ million across social media while receiving public support from U.S. senators and congressmen, as well as from notable environmental organizations such as Public Citizen and Sierra Club.

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. 

Want to know more?

Lobby for Climate Change the Chamber

 

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Carbon Targets 

Carbon targetsThe 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.

Want to know more?

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What Can I Do About it?

“What Can I Do About It?” Is a newly launched website, aiming to become a central platform to inspire and support students to act, by helping students find and share good practice solutions (campaigns, programs, projects, events). This will enable a stronger, more coordinated, supported global network of student change makers.

How students are involved

The website is run by and for students.

Why it’s in SOS international portfolio?

“What Can I Do About It?” is in partnership with SOS International and SOS-UK, with goals for the website to be used by SOS members and students worldwide.

How can you contribute to this program?

Upload your campaigns, programs, projects, and events, by filling in this form!
If you are interested in collaborating, email info.whatcanidoaboutit@gmail.com

Want to know more?


#ActOnYourClimateScience

We urgently need to close the gap between climate science and action. This campaign seeks to address this gap by mobilizing students to pressure their higher education institutions (HEIs) to commit to science-based climate targets. The campaign involves a global coalition of international and regional student-led organizations.

The key actions steps of the campaign include:
1. The coalition develops the campaign and recruits national campaign coordinators (NCC).
2. NCCs get training and support in our academy to start and run the campaign nationally.
3. The campaign pushes thousands of HEIs to take action in line with science and equity.

Campaign Goals by COP27

  • Launch campaign nationally in 30 countries
  • Have 1000 HEIs sign the Climate Framework
  • Advocate for science-based targets internationally, taking into account equity
  • Release an international student-led climate ranking
  • Develop an international student action paper

How students are involved

Students and student-led organizations are organizing and implementing this global campaign, including an international ranking of HEIs. Students are the lifeblood of universities and colleges, and therefore have the power to push for this change.

Why it’s in SOS international portfolio?

Climate Students Movement International is an SOS International member, and works together with SOS members and other partner organizations to gain a global reach for this campaign.

How can you contribute to this program?

Want to know more?

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SustainaBul (national ranking)

The SustainaBul (which is a pun, as a ‘bul’ is the degree you receive when graduating from university) is a student-led ranking of Dutch higher education institutions, according to the extent to which they are acting on sustainability. Participating institutions are assessed based on a questionnaire on their sustainability efforts in education, research, operational management and integral approach. The program is taken very seriously by Dutch education institutions, as it stimulates a competitive dynamic, but also supports knowledge sharing across institutions.

How students are involved

The ranking is organized by students on an annual basis, by sending and analyzing surveys sent to all higher education institutions in the Netherlands. They do receive support from academics in implementing the program.

Why it’s in SOS international portfolio?

As an SOS International member, Studenten voor Morgen (Students for Tomorrow) delivers this program in the Netherlands. This type and scale of classification, completely initiated and voluntarily executed by students, cannot be found any place else in the world.

How can you run to this program?

The program can be replicated by other national student sustainability organizations. Get in touch with Studenten voor Morgen and they will be happy to help you set it up in your country.

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Duurzame Introductie Tijd (Sustainable Introduction Time)

As a competition among student organizations from multiple cities to organize the most sustainable introduction stunt, the aim is to raise awareness for sustainability among starting students. A good moment to reach this group is at the start of the academic year: the introduction period. As these introduction periods are full of activities, sustainability can easily be incorporated.

How students are involved

Participating student associations upload photos / videos of their sustainable introduction days to a special facebook-page. A jury will then decide which activity was the most effective, the most playful and the most popular. For inspiration, see the Facebook-page

Why it’s in SOS international portfolio?

As an SOS International member, Studenten voor Morgen (Students for Tomorrow) delivers this program in the Netherlands since 2014. The program can easily be replicated by other national student sustainability organizations.

How can you contribute to this program?

Run the program in your country!

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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 the SOS portfolio?

Join the SOS membership