Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS)
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Natural Sciences/Centre for Ecosystem Management
This research paper reviews the concept and practice of tertiary sciences students doing environmental volunteering, otherwise known as conservation volunteering, as a core part of their course to check its alignment with sustainability principles. First year Natural Sciences students at Edith Cowan University do five days environmental volunteer work with community groups as practicum. Initial research data displays the number of volunteer hours done by students in various types of activities, locations and organisations. Preliminary quantitative evaluations and qualitative comments demonstrate students’ positive attitudes and outcomes from their volunteering experiences. Definitions and classifications of sustainability from current literature are discussed as part of the curriculum design review process. Initial data from host organisations and students suggests that this environmental volunteering contributes to employability skills, although the program needs to be evaluated as one component of an integrated program of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) that the students are required to complete. Students learn about potential careers and the environment industry’s reliance on volunteers. Students learn and practise specific skills (e.g. animal handling) and contribute to communities and the environment.