Midlands Enterprise Universities members Derby and De Montfort have each won at this year’s Green Gown Awards, which recognise the UK’s greenest universities.

The University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Research Group was awarded the top prize in the ‘Research with Impact – Institution’ category and its ‘Research with Impact – Student’ section.

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s School of Fashion and Textiles was awarded the Next Generation Learning and Skills Award.

The three awards showcase the work being done in higher education to support the green agenda, embedding it in research and across the curriculum.

Derby’s nature connectness research provides a behaviour change framework for improving the human-nature relationship, which has been adopted by the National Trust, Wildlife Trust and more.

Judges thought the submission, linking the natural world and wellbeing, was a “fascinating, holistic, and timely project, combining social and environmental benefits. The impact has benefitted hundreds of thousands of people and is underpinned by strong research.”

Professor Miles Richardson, who leads the Nature Connectedness Group, said: “I’m thrilled that our research into people’s relationship with nature won this award. A new relationship with nature is essential for a sustainable future, and I’m pleased we’ve been able to produce the new knowledge and tools that others can apply at scale. It is their openness to new ideas and creative application that has made this recognition of our research possible.”

Lea Barbett, a current Environmental Psychology PhD student at Derby, won for a tool she developed – a Pro-nature Conversation Behaviour Scale – which measures behaviours that specifically aim to support nature conversation and biodiversity, which has been rapidly adopted by researchers, conservation organisations and government.

Meanwhile DMU has enhanced its courses and curriculum to ensure that graduates are empowered to create positive change and reverse the devastating environmental impacts of the global fashion industry, which is currently responsible for 10 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability is a huge focus for DMU, which is the only UK university to be a hub for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a series of 17 targets to make the world a better place.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Katie Normington said: “Winning this award means the world to DMU as an UN SDG hub. The reputation and global reach of our fashion school drives us to produce graduates leading on responsible design and practice in fashion, ensuring the next generation of designers make a positive impact on our world.”