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Here at Otago, we value social responsibility and want to make sure that our actions positively impact on the wellbeing of our students, staff and wider communities. Our social responsibility programmes and initiatives encourage students, staff and other stakeholders to get actively involved and make a difference.

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Fair Trade at Otago

The University of Otago is an accredited Fair Trade university and we are committed to acting in an ethically, socially and environmentally responsible manner.

We also place a strong emphasis on educating our students so that they are equipped to meet societal challenges and know about ethics, ethical standards and social responsibility.

Man raising rainbow flag in front of Otago University clocktower

Rainbow community support

At Otago, we embrace, support and celebrate the diversity of sexual and gender identities of our staff and students. Being inclusive and accepting is part of who we are.

We are recognised as a Rainbow Tick certified employer and we always strive to provide an environment in which all students and staff can be themselves and achieve their full potential.

Providing support and opportunities for connection, raising awareness, and educating our staff about working with the rainbow community are some of the ways we show our commitment to this cause.

Learn about the Rainbow Tick certification
Take a look at our Equity and Diversity Policy

Students walking on Otago University Campus

Smoke-free campus

All University of Otago campuses are completely smoke-free since 2014.

Offering our students and staff a healthy, smoke-free environment to study and work is just one of the many ways we achieve our mission statement.

Our smoke-free policy is strictly enforced across our Dunedin, Wellington and Christchurch campuses and our team at Otago Student Health is fully committed to supporting students who wish to quit smoking.

Being a smoke-free campus also significantly helps reduce our environmental impact and contributes to our wider sustainability goals.

Follow our smoke-free campus journey
Find Student Health quitting resources
Explore smoke-free research at Otago

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Social Impact Studio

Otago's Social Impact Studio provides a hub for students, staff and the community to team up on projects that benefit our society and environment.

Our volunteering programmes allow students to use their creativity, passion and initiative for the good of the community. Students can be part of positive social change and, at the same time, improve their leadership skills, boost their employability and discover valuable networking opportunities.

Staff also play an important role by encouraging students to volunteer and by supporting initiatives with their own experiences, expertise and enthusiasm.

The Social Impact Studio currently works with over 200 community partners across Dunedin. We actively promote volunteer opportunities and help our student volunteers to connect with their community.

Visit the Social Impact Studio hub

Student volunteers helping in community with planting

Sustainability at Otago

Here at Otago, we work hard to make our University and the world a more sustainable and healthier place.

One of our formal commitments is to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are proud to be part of this global partnership which allows us to actively contribute towards a sustainable future for all.

Supporting the SDGs and fully integrating our Sustainability Strategic Framework across all teaching, research and operational activities requires all hands on deck.

Our dedicated Sustainability at Otago team work across the University and wider community to raise awareness and create positive changes through events, initiatives and advice. We actively encourage our students and staff to get involved, reduce their environmental impact and live more sustainably.

To achieve our strategic goals and help drive change, we have set ourselves some ambitious targets:

  • Cut our total carbon footprint by 33 per cent by 2020
  • Be over 20 per cent more energy efficient by 2025
  • Be 100 per cent renewable by 2030
  • Reduce our waste to landfill by 50 per cent by 2021

We aim to embed sustainability in everything we do so it becomes the norm at Otago.

Learn more about the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Read our Sustainability Strategic Framework (PDF)
Get involved with sustainability at Otago

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The Sophia Charter for Community Responsibility and Wellbeing

The Sophia Charter was signed following the tragic death of Sophia Crestani in 2019 to provide a “circle of support” and to enhance the safety and wellbeing of our student community in North Dunedin.

Initiated by the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Harlene Hayne with Sophia's whānau, the Charter is a shared commitment from the University of Otago, Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Otago Property Investors Association, the Dunedin City Council and the Otago University Students' Association to come together and make North Dunedin a safer place for students.

The goal is to establish a strong student neighbourhood where residents take responsibility for themselves, each other and the wider community; it will be a place that is fun, vibrant, safe and secure and that fosters student success and wellbeing.

Two scholarships have also been established in Sophia's memory. Funded by generous support from Sophia's family and friends, Otago students and staff, as well as the wider community, the scholarships recognise second-year community-minded females in financial need.

Find out more about the Sophia Charter
Apply for Sophia Charter Memorial Scholarships

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