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ACTS is a non-profit member based organisation representing higher and further education institutions within Australia and New Zealand. We aim to inspire, promote and support change towards best practice sustainability within the operations, curriculum and research of the tertiary education sector.

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2013 Award Categories

ACTS is delighted to announce the 2013 categories for the Green Gown Awards Australasia. Now in their 4th year, the tertiary education sector has embraced these Awards recognising them as an excellent and prestigious example of sustainability best practice. There are few changes to the categories for this year and we hope every Australasian institution (universities, TAFE’s, Polytechnics, RTO’s) will find a category suitable for the worthwhile initiatives they are undertaking.
New for 2013 is the splitting of the ACTS Award of Excellence into 2 separate categories – an Institutional award and an individual award. The former TAFE & Smaller Institutions category has been updated to create the Smaller Institutions category and ACTS is delighted to collaborate with sustainability.edu.au & the Office for Learning and Teaching on the Learning & Teaching category.

The Awards will formally launch for applications on Monday 3 June 2013. The Deadline for applications is 24 July 2013 and the winners will be announced on 26 September 2013 at the 13th International ACTS Conference Dinner, Novotel, Sydney.

Carbon Reduction

This category recognises initiatives which have achieved a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of an educational institution through the likes of:

  • Energy consumption and source
  • Waste reduction, recycling and responsible disposal
  • Sustainable travel planning and management etc

Applications are likely to be successful if they provide considerable quantitative evidence on the nature of the improvements made and demonstrate a causal relationship between activities undertaken and improvements achieved. Applications must also demonstrate real improvement, rather than precursor activities such as foot-printing or setting of targets.

Continuous Improvement – Institutional Change

This category recognises sustained and successful activities to improve the sustainability performance of tertiary education institutions, faculties and buildings at a holistic level, over a number of years. Applications are likely to be successful if they provide considerable evidence on the nature of the improvements made and also demonstrate a causal relationship between activities undertaken and improvement achieved. Initiatives must have been running for at least two years. (Examples include inclusion of sustainability in high level strategic planning, leadership, embedding sustainability within the curriculum at an institutional level, research, strong links with the community and a holistic approach to sustainability across the campus etc). The key message is that activities are undertaken at an institutional level.

Learning & Teaching*

This category recognises achievements in education for sustainability in undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational courses in tertiary education institutions. Examples of possible application topics include:

  • effective integration of sustainability principles and/or practices within and across disciplines and courses, especially those not traditionally engaged with sustainability;
  • the development of new courses focused on sustainability issues;
  • use of practical sustainability-related projects or other practical activities within courses including work-based learning initiatives.

Applicants must demonstrate continued achievement through a holistic approach, connecting to EfS principles relevant to the course. Further guidance on the suggested principles for EfS can be found via http://sustainability.edu.au/about-sustainability/

* In collaboration with Learning & Teaching Sustainability (sustainability.edu.au) and the Office of Learning & Teaching.


Skills for Sustainability

This category recognises achievement in the development of skills relevant to sustainability. To provide a clear differentiation from other categories, the main focus is on activities that are not central to the pursuit of academic qualifications (which should normally be entered into the Learning & Teaching category). Examples include:

  • training for apprenticeships;
  • continuing professional development (CPD) activities;
  • skill-focused courses leading to professional or vocational qualifications;
  • short courses for practitioners and;
  • demonstrating/implementing sustainability practices in the workplace.

However, applications can be made for activities connected with undergraduate or other academic courses if there is a practical focus on the development of specific skills which goes beyond the normal activities of the disciplinary curriculum, e.g. running community-based projects which give students considerable autonomy and develop their communication, management abilities etc.

Social Responsibility

This category recognises initiatives by tertiary education institutions which create significant benefits for local communities, disadvantaged groups and/or society as a whole in either Australasia or developing countries. As well as specific initiatives, this category includes institutions taking a leading and visionary role in multi-partner activities such as community development or urban regeneration. Although all applications will be considered on their merits, the judges will be looking for ‘social responsibility’ type initiatives which have an element of proactive community and social concern, rather than ‘business as usual’ activities which create immediate financial benefit for the institution such as putting on new courses for particular groups. Note: activities which have a substantial student element should be submitted to the Student Initiatives and Campaigns category.

Student Initiatives

This category recognises initiatives which have been developed and/or substantially influenced by students. Activities aimed at changing awareness and behaviour of student groups, staff or communities are favoured. However the relationship between staff and students to ensure maximum understanding and engagement across an institution is essential. Applications need to demonstrate the relationship between student input and staff commitment to achieve these goals. Activities aimed at changing student awareness and behaviour by institutions themselves are also eligible, provided there is evidence of substantial student involvement and they can demonstrate the relationship between the two. Examples may include:

  • awareness campaigns
  • procurement actions
  • volunteering activities organised by unions, societies and similar organisations within institutions
  • social media projects
  • community initiatives
  • Sustainability reporting and websites

Smaller Institutions - Updated

This category recognises the difficulties which smaller Tertiary Education institutions have in accessing resources or taking action, relative to larger institutions, assessing their commitment and impact in relation to their total sustainability agenda. It encompasses any sustainability-related initiatives which contribute to sustainable development. (We encourage applications that can demonstrate a wide reaching impact through a variety of sustainability measures). It is open to all TAFEs, Polytechnics, Registered Training Organisations (RTO) and Universities with less than 15,000 FTE enrolled students, within the Australasian tertiary education sector. Note – all other categories are also open to TAFEs, Polytechnics, RTOs and smaller institutions and may be a better choice for specific initiatives, such as student engagement or teaching and learning etc.

ACTS Award of Excellence

This award recognises the sustainability achievements of our institutional members, who have been working hard to achieve change towards sustainability at any level. There are two entries for this category:

  1. Institutional Award
  2. Individual Award – NEW

ACTS members are asked to nominate themselves or another member institution/individual that deserves recognition for continued and on-going effort to improve sustainability performance. This Award is about recognising continued efforts, large or small, that have resulted in an improvement to the sustainability achievements of an institution and/or beyond, regardless of sector excellence. Examples of possible application topics include the continued effort/leadership of an individual (for the individual award); continued effort/ leadership of a group of staff and/or students; an institution’s or individual’s outreach to the local community or other institutions/entities; the sharing of knowledge and/or resources, raising awareness and behaviour change and the greening of departments/campuses. Please note that for the individual award both staff and students from member institutions are eligible to be nominated. Nominations for both awards that can demonstrate a broad and diverse range of sustainability achievements will be more highly favoured by the judges. Winners for this category will be decided by ACTS members who will be asked to vote from a shortlisted group. Winners will be announced at the Green Gown Awards Australasia ceremony.

Disclaimer: Any person working for an ACTS member institution is eligible to nominate or be nominated for the ACTS Award of Excellence – Individual Award. This includes voluntary members of the ACTS board and regional directors. ALL submissions will be treated equally and fairly and there will be no conflicts of interest in the shortlisting process. No member of the ACTS board or regional directors will sit on the judging panel to shortlist the applications. The winner will be decided on by a public vote, by ACTS members, of which members of an institution are unable to vote for another member of the same institution. The decision of the Green Gown Awards Australasia team is final with the rules of the Awards process followed to the utmost integrity. 

** Please note, this information is correct at the time of publishing. The categories in orange are International Green Gown Award categories.2013 GGAA Basic Sponsorsv2


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