Sustainability Research Volunteer

People & Planet is looking for volunteers to assist with compiling its 2024/25 People & Planet University League; the only higher education ranking that classifies based on ethics and climate justice criteria.

Universities impart skills and knowledge, form life-long beliefs and behaviours, act as centres of communities, employ, house and feed large numbers of people and promote the creation and sharing of knowledge. We believe this makes them uniquely placed to lead on environmental and ethical issues. For this reason the People & Planet University League has been running since 2007 and has been published by high-profile media partners such as The Guardian (2021, 2022. and 2023) and the Sunday Times Good University Guide eco-rating.

Volunteers will research publicly available university documents and assess universities against our marking criteria, which cover a wide range of climate and social justice issues including decarbonisation, fossil fuel divestment, ethical banking, workers’ rights and environmental management among others. This work will help to incentivise the university sector towards taking immediate and appropriate action on the climate crisis and upholding the rights and wellbeing of all people internationally.

The role will develop and improve the following areas:

● Qualitative research skills
● Attention to detail
● Use of data collection software
● Time management and keeping to deadlines
● Working independently and remotely
● Communication skills
● Knowledge of environmental management processes and sustainability reporting.

Training is provided for the role. We believe the skills and experience gained could be valuable for a number of career paths, including working in NGOs, corporate sustainability, estates management, higher education policy making, research and campaigning among many others. People & Planet would like to support volunteers in their future careers, so will give all volunteers an official reference letter on successful completion of their placement and will act as a referee for future positions for which you may apply.

From last year’s cohort, 100% said they would recommend this position to someone who wanted to add experience to their CV.

Feedback from some of last year’s volunteers

‘I think as someone looking for relevant experience to bolster a CV, this is a helpful and not-too-time-consuming position. It had exactly the kind of flexibility that I required at this point in time.’

‘It's a really great opportunity to hone one's research skills, learn more about what our universities can do to improve their impact on the planet, and make a small but real difference.’

Person Specification -the following are essential:

● Access to a computer or laptop and internet connection.
● Familiarity with desk-based research.
● Ability to work accurately and efficiently to agreed standards.
● Reliability and commitment to completing work to deadlines.
● Able to communicate needs with staff at People & Planet and if needed, ask for appropriate support to complete tasks on time.
● Ability to search policy documents for specific information in English.
● Ability to assess information against standardised frameworks.
● Ability to work remotely and independently

The following are desirable:

● Awareness of current issues in sustainability and ethics.
● Experience of research and data collection.
● An interest in higher education policy.

You will need to commit to

● Three 25 hour weeks of remote work in July and August. Volunteers can manage their own
time flexibly and will receive support from People & Planet, but must meet task deadlines
on a weekly basis and attend two meetings per week in a mid-morning time slot.
● One day of remote training the week prior to your 3 week engagement.

Summer timetable

July 8th-July 26th- Ethical Investment and Banking, Staff and Student Engagement,
Education for Sustainable Development
July 22nd-9th August-Sustainable Food, Staff & HR, Environmental Policy and Strategy
5th August-23rd August- Managing Carbon, Workers’ Rights, Ethical Careers and
Recruitment, Environmental Management and Auditing

How to Apply

Fill in this form and attach a C.V that has your full name in the filename. Applications will be processed on a rolling basis until positions are filled, so please apply early to avoid disappointment. The deadline for applications is June the 7th 2024 Candidates will need to attend an interview, which could be organised individually or as part of a group.

Please let us know if you have specific access needs and what we can do to make the interview, training and volunteer experience more accessible to you. We welcome people with hearing loss, deaf and or disabled people to apply for this volunteer opportunity -unfortunately we don't use BSL so would need to make alternative support provisions for the training, unless a BSL interpreter can join you. If you have specific needs where we might support you by making this volunteering opportunity more accessible, please contact us by emailing

People & Planet welcome applications from BAME folks and people of colour, from disabled people, from LGBTQI*people, from people who speak English as a second language, from people who identify as non-binary gender, from women, from people of different ages, from people with caring responsibilities and from people with irregular migration status, people seeking asylum in the UK or with a migrant background, folks with a working class background, and everyone else.

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