Oonagh McGirr reports back from a recent ADMHEA sustainability event.
Create Sustain Ability
Friday, 14 May 2010
RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, WC1B 1AD
Notes on Sustainability
I attended the above conference on behalf of the Dean of Learning and Teaching Development.
My initial thoughts are that it was worthwhile; I am never sure how much we understand about the issue of creating and embedding sustainability in education, and more specifically HE. It is a thorny, and slightly difficult topic – after two years of an Ed.D in the subject, I still question what exactly this mythical concept is. I think my answer might be “small steps and big thinking”.
My notes take the form of a series of key words and thoughts, or a stream of consciousness, as you prefer! Please do contact me if you have any questions, thoughts or ideas you would like to share.
Keynote speaker: Arran Stibbe, University of Gloucestershire
Sustainability encompasses discourse, identity of the here and now.
What does it mean to be a student in this unsustainable world?
Are we merely ecolinguists when we talk about sustainability?
It is about making teaching and learning relevant to what is happening at this time.
We should expect change and changes – nothing new!
We find ourselves in the century following massive global expansion. Traditionally, education has always been organised around the industrial project – this is now not necessarily the case.
Sustainability, until now, has often been an afterthought – The Leitch Report makes no mention of sustainability, with the traditional emphasis on STEM subjects.
A recurring agenda in policy papers is that of industrialisation and wealth creation.
21st Century: one of great change, moral imperative to do so.
The Transition perspective: society and culture will necessarily change dramatically because the age of cheap fossil fuels is ending.
The Environmentalist perspective tells us that we must change, given that the biodiversity losses have already gone beyond the tolerable limits of loss.
“Education takes us to the depths of things”
Let us think about a post fossil fuel future.
Practical wisdom; Agency and Structure; t he kinds of knowledge, skills and practices that will be of use to us in the future. Ways of reading society. It is a question of viewing the world relationally.
Therefore we must recognise that this is a call for profound changes in education.
We must read society in ways that will help prepare for the changes that are most certainly coming and to assist us in having meaningful lives.
Tanya de Paor – Do we impose on Nature or Reconcile with Nature
Talk about a course run and delivered by TdP @ MIT Limerick.
Embedding issues of ESD into a Visual Arts course curriculum.
How do you structure a programme for Art and Design teacher training for a cohort who is highly competent, academically proficient and divers in nature – as happened with this Teacher Training Course.
Answer: co-authoring of course design; thematic frameworks; raising the profile of exploration as a key concept; confidence building thro innovation and self reflection. Course design goes back to the drawing board, quite literally – and it is a work in progress.
Philip Hawkins and Eileen Rosamund – How is, or how might ESD be incorporated into art and design curricula?
Presenters from Somerset College of Arts and Technology
A question which is gaining importance.
Concepts in Art and Design Media – peer critique and reflection. Key to embedding sustainability.
How do we plan for sustainability across the curriculum? Consider tools and benchmarking.
Understanding the viable impact on institutions – e.g. Green audits via Estates dept.
This needs to drill down to each discipline in order to be effective.
Can we assess how we might measure this, put a figure to the concept?
Perhaps take it to another level entirely: co-authorship of course content; student contributions to the body of knowledge – how do we measure and archive them?
Even down to the nature of materials used by students in Art & Design in terms of sustainability.
Awareness raising vs. Nature of practice – tensions?
Measuring output and consumption
We can think about measuring the changes in awareness, learning, and assessment.
Contributions vs. representation.
What are the strategies and delimitations of the thematic?
A shift in methodologies and ways of knowing.
Shifts in consciousness.
Equal Opportunities for the Planet.
What we need is for artists to visualise the eco-crises and present them to the public as communicators.
This is a return or reiteration of the Arts and Crafts Philosophy.
We need to understand what we are trying to achievement with our engagement at course level.
The lack of clarity around this is complicated. There is a benefit in benchmarking, although this may be contentious in its development.
Legitimacy for encountering these issues that we as culturalists are immersed in.
Johanna Korndorfer – About the Centre for Contemporary Art and Natural World (CCANW)
Haldon Forest Park Education Centre in Devon.
Arts/ Ecology Centre and Hub. Linking regional and interregional.
Using the Arts to explore and understand our place within nature.
Aims: creating a platform for new and emerging talent from uni and college courses.
To showcase textiles / ceramics etc; Linking networks of best practice nationwide.
One project – Wood Studio, among current projects – “Fashion Footprints, Sustainable Approaches” curated by recent MA Graduates from LCF. June 2010 – Feb 2011
“Inhabit what is available to you”.
The Wood Forum created sustainable architecture using materials from the on-site tree farm.
Somebody said, “Sustainability is a technology in itself.”
These projects can assist in engaging multiple educators within the community – WP projects, primary, secondary, FE and HE.
There are hidden and implicit discourses in sustainable education projects.
Rupert Bassett and Lynne Elvins – Navigating the Complexity of Sustainability
Wonderful practical presentation on the development and implementation of a tool which enables students to visualise the quadruple bottom line of sustainability in the design process.
Initiated the process by thinking about the problems of terminology, jargon and complexity in the conceptualisation of sustainability.
Aimed at 1st Year Design students.
After considering Elkington’s Triple Bottom line of Financial, Environmental and Social, they added in a fourth consideration of Personal.
So: Financial plus environmental plus social plus personal equals Sustainable
A walk around the visual tool and its use – feedback on the student view – they love it. Helps to clarify and aids in the reflective design process. Mapping though Knowledge.
Round Up and Close
A good day; the work continues; make sustainability a core value for all HEIs.
The Dawe Report; Sustainability Education and Sustainability Education available to read on the HEA-ADM website: www.adm.heacademy.ac.uk
Funding rounds available to for research!
The forthcoming Green Gown Awards in June.
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