Embedding Sustainability Across The Curriculum: University of Manchester Community of Practice
As the realisation sets in across the globe that we can no longer afford to be wasteful in the way we live, the question is recurring as to what ways of life we transition to and how. This is common sense, and the multi-disciplinary study of sustainability is the form that common sense is taking in academic circles. As we are well aware, the problems which we are facing are global ones, where the sheer and vast numbers of human beings living on the planet now do not tally with the natural resources which are available on the earth.
Universities, colleges and higher education in general perform a number of critical functions in society. Amongst these are researching the knowledge and solutions we need to approach tackling issues which affect us all, teaching people to think critically and analytically about how they are engaging with the world, evolving how we learn and live together so that what we do know becomes more widely understood.
In this, the Anthropocene age, attentions all over the world are refocusing on how we can live in a balanced way which ensures a long and healthy future for us and the environment which keeps us alive. Institutions such as the University of Manchester are gearing themselves towards embedding sustainability across the curriculum. This highlights that sustainability is not an abstracted subject but something which is relative and relevant in all areas of thought.
Sustainability problems necessitate complex thinking because more often than not they involve multiple factors. How sustainability is practically brought into, and incorporated into all our realms of thinking and doing, is an area of experiment and development. I have been tracking the work which is going on in the University of Manchester as I have found the academics particularly open, and the boundaries with community particularly porous. I think this is because there is an understanding that the knowledge and perspectives which are needed to evolve are found throughout human society and not just in the institutional spaces.
As with many universities and colleges, there are many open opportunities for me to go along and learn what I can from the seminars and presentations which are given. This article and the podcasts are results of this type of open educational environment which is challenging everyone to get to grips with the issues of our day and the knowledge which is available.
Dr Chris Stone Talks About Carbon Literacy
Here Susan Brown introduces Dr Chris Stone from Manchester Metropolitan University who was invited to present at the University of Manchester Sustainability Community of Practice meeting April 2016. He talks about Carbon Literacy teaching which he has done. A Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, he is an applied social scientist and qualified university educator with 25 years’ experience in the field of tourism management and extensive experience of teaching, research, quality assurance in higher education, and consultancy.
Getting the chance to attend and listen to Chris speak has made me rethink the holidaying industry which has arisen. The cheap flights which are flooding the market may be good in one sense – that of pleasure; but they are devastatingly wasteful. Air travel in general is unsustainable, and it strikes me that the idea of jumping on a plane to go somewhere for three days in the sun is a dangerous waste of resources.
Besides anything else, the petrochemicals which are being burned by the gallon for more trivial uses, could be used to make medicines and more valuable products. Have a listen to the podcast and check out the carbon footprint calculator. As was said to me, it is not a case of doing without holidays, but maybe rethinking how we are doing them. You
Lucy Millard Talks About Developing Initiatives at UoM
After Dr Chris Stone, Susan Brown introduced Lucy Millard Environmental Sustainability Manager at University of Manchester. Lucy is the University Living Lab Estates and Facilities contact, and part of the original ULL team along with James Evans, Andrew Karvonen and Ross Jones. Her focuses include environmental management in higher education sector, carbon management, behaviour change, real life application of academic research, environmental sustainability strategy, and living laboratory research.
To me this was an example of a very important educational development. The community of practice is evolving across institutions, across disciplines and also values knowledge wherever it is situated. The porous nature of the community of peers is setting up the circumstances for serendipity and learning from all quarters.
It is refreshing that the university as an institution is reflecting on its practices and thinking about how it can embody the lessons it carries. This is impressive; it is an earmark of an institution long established taking very seriously the challenges which have to be addressed – however complex or uncomfortable they are.