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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 111 registered student organizations that work within the social, economic, and environmental approaches of sustainable development, of which 58 are independent organizations, 27 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.

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 six years, the Vice Presidency of Sustainability and the Department of Project Development promote activities that strengthen the cooperation between student associations, civil society, university entities, and public institutions. The goal is creating a cooperation network in favor of sustainability. Some of these activities are the celebrations of international days recognized by the United Nations, such as the World Water Day, the Earth Day, the World Environment Day, the World Oceans Day, and the World Animal Day, where experts hold conferences on environmental issues to propose possible solutions. Other activities are exhibitions, discussion forums, fairs, and recreational activities organized and supported by UANL and its students.

UANL promoted alternative activities in defense of water during 2017. As part of the celebrations of the World Water Day, the Dean of the School of Chemistry Eduardo Soto Regalado gave a lecture called “Utilizing agroindustrial waste to produce pollutant-absorbing activated charcoal for wastewater treatment”. The lecture was attended by 172 students and professors.

Since 2016, restoration campaigns for urban natural areas have been periodically conducted to promote the rehabilitation of ecologically significant public spaces and raise awareness on the importance of their existing biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The first restoration campaign of 2017 was carried out at the La Silla River by more than 200 volunteers who cleaned the water and the river banks. Staff from the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas also held a workshop about invasive species. The La Silla River Protection Association, the Monterrey’s Department of Ecology and Urban Development and the Department of Public Services, the Environmental and Natural Resources Protection Agency of Nuevo Leon, the Cumbres National Park Administration, volunteers, and students collaborated to make this activity happen.

On the World Environment Day, another restoration campaign took place at the Lago Park in Monterrey. Dozens of students and UANL staff volunteered to plant trees, remove exotic flora from the lake, and install animal identification signs. Other activities included an environmental fair, exhibitions, and a workshop by the Children of Mother Earth from the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace.

The third restoration campaign was conducted at the Mederos campus by the School of Communication and the Monterrey Town Hall. Volunteers gathered to remove solid waste, organize an environmental fair, and promote the American black bear conservation. Moreover, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection and the Cumbres National Park Administration gave the lectures “Protecting of the American Black Bear” and “Invasive Species”, respectively.

In collaboration with the Cumbres National Park Administration and the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, UANL held a fourth restoration campaign at the La Huasteca Park in the municipality of Santa Catarina. Over 190 volunteers supported the Invasive Species Control Program of the park, which focuses on the Kalanchoe sp plant.

To celebrate the World Animal Day, the School of Communication, the School of Public Health and Nutrition, and the School of Accounting and Business Management hosted a series of activities about animal welfare. Students from the UANL Animalia organization provided participants with information about animal rights, pet adoption, and fundraising for animal protection. As part of the celebration, Professor of the School of Veterinary Medicine Juan Jose Zarate Ramos offered the conference “One Health” to more than 200 students.

Additionally, the Institutional Unit of the Department of Project Development promotes different academic events such as workshops and courses 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.

Electronic and audiovisual media represent a communication strategy for sustainability promotion within and outside the university. These types of media reach society in a positive way through explanatory videos, gifs, and digital activities like posting images of important dates as instructed by national entities and the United Nations. In 2017, seventeen digital student activities were done, where they posted a total of 226 images on our official Facebook page: UANL-Sustentable. Student organizations helped complete these activities by creatively brainstorming and sharing relevant data on proper use of natural resource, human rights, animal welfare, and nutrition, among others.

In order to learn more about the valuable work our student organizations have achieved in university sustainability and the promotion of experiences and initiatives between national and international organizations, you can check the list of student organizations below: