A beer-community among (international) students
Two international Master’s degree students at UCPH, Andrew Stratton and Grace Lee, discovered a community when launching a new sustainable beer that seeks to preserve wild nature in Denmark, in cooperation with Nørrebro Bryghus, The Danish Nature Fund and Studenterhuset.
In February 2020, Andrew Stratton, a Forest and Nature Management student, and Grace Lee, a Water Sustainability and Environment student, together with fellow students, welcomed the University’s Prorector Bente Stallknecht, the Minister for Environment Lea Wermelin, students and many others to the launch of the new sustainable beer, Natur Lager at Studenterhuset, a student organisation affiliated with UCPH. Prior to this, many months of preparation had been underway.
It all started when both students attended an event for "Young Professionals in Denmark" (YPD) at Studenterhuset where they were introduced to the partnership between the Danish brewery, Nørrebro Bryghus and the Danish Nature Fund.
The beer itself had already been brewed, but there was a need for someone to launch and brand the beer. Together with two other students, Andrew and Grace seized the opportunity and became part of the start-up that was to assemble the project.
A sustainable community
Both Andrew and Grace were studying subjects related to environmental issues so it was a natural fit to get involved with the Natur Lager project. Working with the start-up, they have been able to work with subject areas that tap into their own fields of knowledge. When they felt unsure about specific areas necessary to bring the project forward, they could easily benefit from the other group members, whose field of knowledge was elsewhere and who were natives of Denmark and Germany, respectively.
Both students say that it has been wonderful to be among students with a common interest. As Grace says:
"Trying to find people that are interested in what you’re interested in….It's like a safe space."
Natur Lager – the common third
One might say that the start-up has been an essential platform in the students’ social cohesion within their working group, where Natur Lager has served as the substantial "common third". The common third is about creating a commonly shared situation or activity, which in this case is the Natur Lager project.
In that way the students' relationship becomes meaningful and less constructed, which sometimes can be difficult in the integration of international students.
The two students both agree that everything in the process has run quite smoothly, which may be due to the strength of working with the common third.
Andrew supports this by saying:
"YPD brought us together and that is what international programmes are about. They are about creating opportunities and spaces for people to connect…"
The two students have really benefitted from all the offers available to them: YPD, Studenterhuset and the Natur Lager start-up.
When asked how it has been, as an international student, to be involved in a project like this, Andrew quickly replies:
"You have to be proactive ….the opportunities are everywhere, it’ is a matter of marrying the two together."
Natur Lager and the future
The Natur Lager beer is on the market now, and although COVID-19 has been an obstacle for large events at Studenterhuset, the group is still working to promote the beer because it is out there, ready to be bought and ready to see to the conservation of more wild nature in Denmark.
By Christina Grauballe & Simone Hauskov