Student involvement is crucial for the operation of higher education institutions as it represents a significant learning process to students, who will develop a sense of belonging and identity in our university. Student members of our organizations share the same call-to-action interests, motivation, and objectives; they are skilled activists in designing and implementing innovative plans for the university from social, cultural, political, and environmental approaches. Moreover, students experience positive social, academic, and personal changes when joining an organization since they gain capabilities such as teamwork, leadership, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, responsibility, and allegiance. This can be perceived through better academic performance in the classroom, which eventually strengthens their professional development.
As part of its major commitments, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon educates professionals with a broad meaning of life and dedication to sustainable development because it considers necessary to support its students by promoting organizational integration and providing spaces for extracurricular activities about culture, the environment, sports, politics, social life, and leisure, which are essential in quality education.
UANL is home to 85 registered student organizations that work within the social, economic, and environmental approaches of sustainable development, of which 34 are independent organizations, 25 are university organizations, and 26 are student government boards. University organizations and student government boards are constituted by a director, a secretary general, and a group of young leaders who help collaboratively accomplish projects from an annual work plan to improve their communities and society at large.
UNIVERDE is the main university environmental organization, whose objective is to promote a culture of environmental sustainability. It is currently comprised of students from different UANL undergraduate schools.
Furthermore, several student organizations seek to implement specific programs for the academic, extracurricular, and social integration not only of its members, but also of all students. Such programs aim at pursuing the encouragement of health, nutrition, human rights, and cultural diversity by means of workshops, conferences, seminars, and brigades: Youth for Health, University Students Against Cancer, BideSida, Nutre, FEM, and research groups such as DIA, DIME, GERONTE, PAYPA, GRECCA, GIPSIDA, ISA, and SUOPAD.
For more than five years, the UANL Vice Presidency of Sustainability promotes activities for tightening the bonds of cooperation between student associations, civil society, university entities, and public institutions. All this to achieve the creation of cooperation networks in favor of sustainability. Some of these activities are the celebration of international days recognised by the UN where experts hold a conference about environmental issues and possible solutions. Other activities are discussion forums, fairs, and recreational activities supported by students and UANL.
During 2016 UANL promoted alternative activities in defense of water. As part of the celebrations of the World Water Day, the Emeritus Professor Benjamín Limón offered a conference called “Man & Water”, the conference was attended by 200 students. International Mother Earth Day was also celebrated with a reforestation day at “Parque Ecológico La Huasteca” in coordination with the Government of the State, student organizations, and civil society. More than 300 students participated removing encroaching vegetation and collecting solid waste.
In order to celebrate the World Animal Day, the School of Veterinary Medicine, the School of Physical Education, and the School of Psychology hosted a series of activities about animal welfare. Students from the group “Animalia” provide information to participants about animal rights, pet adoption, etc. As part of the celebration, the Dr. José González Salinas, offered a conference about “Animal Welfare”, this conference was attended by 200 students.
The Project Development Department promotes different academic events such as workshops and courses, this in order to train students as sustainability advocates and encourage the implementation of arts and photography workshops regarding similar topics. These activities draw great and enthusiastic student involvement.
Since 2016, the Restoration Campaign for Urban Natural Areas have been periodically conducted to promote the rehabilitation of ecologically significant public spaces, as well as raising awareness on the importance of the existing biodiversity in such places and the impact of environmental community services. One of the first activities was held at the urban wetland of Jardines del Canada in the municipality of General Escobedo, Nuevo Leon; this was carried out to address the global initiatives on ecosystem protection, especially the preservation of wetlands, as established during the 1971 Ramsar Convention. The restoration is possible thanks to the cooperation between student organizations, schools, non-profit organizations, public institutions, and municipal governments. Some other actions taken include urban solid waste collection, native tree planting, invasive non-native flora removal, presentations and workshops about environmental education, and informal education through learning resources on how to protect the flora and fauna of those natural areas. More than one hundred members of our university, society, and government organizations took part in the informal education session.
Electronic and audiovisual media represent a communication strategy for sustainability promotion within and outside the university. These types of media positively reach society through explanatory videos, gifs, and digital activities like posting images related to important dates as set by national entities and the United Nations. In 2016, seventeen digital student activities were done, posting a total of 271 images on our official Facebook page ‘UANL-Sustentable’; student organizations helped complete these activities by creatively brainstorming and sharing relevant information on sustainable agriculture, responsible consumption, pollution, animal welfare, and proper use of natural resource, among other topics.
In order to disseminate the valuable work these student organizations have achieved in university sustainability, as well as promoting the communication of experiences and initiatives between national and international organizations, we disclose the following list of student organizations: