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Collaboration for Change in Teaching and Research

The University of Lincoln and Lincoln Students' Union have committed to helping to deliver the United Nations Sustainable Development goals through its teaching and internationally recognised research.

Research institutes including the newly established Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health, as well as research centres and groups from across the University will play a vital role in reducing inequalities and tackling some of the world's most pressing problems through research and innovation.

The SDG Accord is the university and college sector's collective response to the SDGs and recognises the critical role that education plays in achieving the goals. Signing represents a commitment to help deliver the goals and annually report on progress and share learning with other institutions across the world.


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Discover Our Sustainability Research

Tackling climate change and reversing environmental degradation are among the most important tasks facing the world in the 21st century. University of Lincoln researchers are developing innovative solutions to the challenge of sustainability through inter-disciplinary research in key areas, including climate science, soils, evolution and ecology; water and planetary health; clean energy, energy usage and sustainable supply chains; and ecological justice.

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Impacting Global Goals Through Research

Through our research, we strive to change society for the better  whether that is connecting individuals and communities through shared local heritage, or contributing to international efforts to address global grand challenges such as climate change.

As a University created by its community for its community to reduce inequalities, we understand the vital role education and scholarship play in ensuring that in our rapidly-changing world, no one is left behind.  We support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, framing our research and collaborations in ways that can contribute to delivering peace and prosperity for people and planet. 

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Case Study: Elizabeth Kirk, Global Professor in Global Governance and Ecological Justice

Our world is changing rapidly as a result of human activities, and we also see rapid change in the world’s economic and political order. This poses a threat to our security and wellbeing, and law provides a steadying force, a system for prioritising and a system for resolving disputes. Law’s ability to fulfil these functions rests on its ability to generate new norms and maintain existing ones, but in a rapidly changing world its ability to do so is tested.

Elizabeth’s research highlights weaknesses in current understanding of how normativity is produced (the processes by which we come to regard rules as binding) in both national and international law and provides methods for better understanding these processes. With this understanding in place it may become possible to create more resilient legal systems able to provide certainty and security in challenging times.

Elizabeth’s research has been supported by a number of research grants from the AHRC, British Academy, ESRC, European Commission, Royal Society of Edinburgh and Society of Legal Scholars. Her research aims to transform our understandings of the theoretical distinctions between national and international law, demonstrating that they are irrelevant in explaining the production of normativity.


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The Lincoln Centre for Ecological Justice

The Lincoln Centre for Ecological Justice (LinCEJ) aims to improve our understanding of how best to make the necessary changes in human and institutional behaviour to make a difference to our planet, which will require new forms of research, with new synergies from interdisciplinary, cross-scale research in law, the natural and social sciences, and the humanities.

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Case Study: Dr Sandra Varga, Senior Lecturer in Life Sciences

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are ubiquitous soil organisms that colonise the roots of most plant species. These important plant symbionts usually enhance plant growth and reproduction by delivering water and nutrients obtained from the soil in exchange for carbohydrates photosynthesised by the plants. The relationship is usually beneficial for both partners: fungi are fully dependent on the plant for carbon whilst plants increase their nutrient acquisition and are therefore bigger and better protected from abiotic (e.g. drought) and biotic (e.g. plant pathogens) stresses.

The School of Life Sciences has several ongoing studies investigating not only how these fungi affect different aspects of plant growth and reproduction, but also how they affect other organisms interacting with plants such as pollinators. One of theses studies uses Knautia arvensis (field scabious) to investigate how different arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities affect the amount of flowers and floral rewards offered to pollinators (i.e. nectar and pollen), and how pollinators may respond to these differences.

Understanding the relationships between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi is important because these fungi directly influence plant performance and may also affect the diversity and composition of natural ecosystems and its components.

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Greenhouse and plants

Staying Smart and Growing Green

A pioneering new research collaboration featuring nine research institutions and three commercial companies spanning six different countries is shining a spotlight on the energy efficiency objectives of growers across the North Sea Region using the newest technologies.

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Case Study: Wayne Martindale, Associate Professor in Food Insights and Sustainability

Since 2018, Wayne has led the Food Insights and Sustainability research group at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM). The Centre is developing world-leading sustainable cooking technologies including steam infusion. Steam infusion lowers the energy required to heat foods and pasteurise them to make them safe. It heats much quicker than direct heating and it preserves sensory characteristics of foods. The technology can reduce the carbon footprint of food processing and move products to carbon zero targets required by the UK’s environment plan.

The NCFM is also developing carbon footprinting to improve the sustainability of food. The Centre's approach is to work with companies to build sustainability into products from sourcing, recipes, packaging through to the consumer. The Centre's research demonstrates zero food waste for every meal is possible if food preservation is used well. This work is in collaboration with University of Vienna BOKU and part of the EC Funded Food Heroes Project. A balanced diet that reduces livestock product consumption to healthy levels can reduce the carbon footprint of diets by at least 20%, and reduce food waste by up to 80%.

The Centre is also working on communicating and changing consumption behaviours by highlighting climate change impacts of food consumption and waste.

Students and staff the the National Centre for Food Manufacturing

Sustainability in Teaching

The University of Lincoln offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses which have a focus on our environment, ecosystems, and sustainablity. Many of the University’s modules now include an element of sustainability teaching and learning, and in May 2019 we declared a Climate Emergency to stand with other organisations taking the future of the planet seriously.

In our School of Geography, there is a distinct focus on humanity’s great challenges, from climate change to health inequalities, and food security to natural disasters. At Lincoln, we seek to understand the links between humans and the environments they inhabit.

In our School of Life Sciences, our Ecology and Conservation programmes offer the a chance to develop an understanding of organisms and ecosystems, and how they respond to the threats they face, and in our School of Architecture, both teaching and research highlight the importance of reducing the environmental impact of buildings and cities to safeguard the environment as well as to enhance the health and wellbeing of people.

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