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What does the campus teach students about sustainability? Sustainability and informal learning in a UK university AASHE Denver 2010 Dr Jennie Winter and.

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Presentation on theme: "What does the campus teach students about sustainability? Sustainability and informal learning in a UK university AASHE Denver 2010 Dr Jennie Winter and."— Presentation transcript:

1 What does the campus teach students about sustainability? Sustainability and informal learning in a UK university AASHE Denver 2010 Dr Jennie Winter and Associate Professor Debby Cotton

2 Context If students leave with a degree but no grasp of the social, ethical and environmental context into which they will have to live and work, have we not failed them?... When at university, we have the responsibility to ensure learners are exposed to knowledge and values which they can take on with them as informed, responsible citizens. Every aspect of our campuses, buildings, teaching and leadership must be oriented to achieve this." (Iain Patton, executive director of the EAUC, quoted in the Guardian Newspaper, 21/07/09)

3 Campus-based learning Campus – ‘A place where learning occurs but is, itself…the source of no useful learning’ (Savanick et al. 2008) Or….. ‘A university campus…should facilitate a diversity of teaching and learning styles. Indeed, the campus itself should be of pedagogic value’ (CSF 2009). Hidden curriculum (Jackson 1968) – Those aspects of education which occur outside the formal curriculum, e.g. through the attitudes and behaviour of teachers, or through the learning environment.

4 Research Aim To identify the ways and extent to which aspects of the university campus impact on students’ understanding of sustainability through campus- based informal learning experiences.

5 The University of Plymouth ISO Teaching and learning strategy 2009 UoP is a community sensitive to environmental and social needs. We will utilise the learning opportunities provided by campus sustainability initiatives Research and innovation strategy 2009 Key area: environmental, social and economic sustainability

6 The University of Plymouth ISO In 2005 Awarded £5 million to create a HEFCE funded Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for sustainability The Centre for Sustainable Futures (CSF) Culture Curriculum Campus Community.

7 The University of Plymouth ISO With its score of over 80%, the University of Plymouth received a silver banding and was ranked as one of the top five overall performers in CSR

8 ISO 14001

9 Methodology 6 students recruited to make video diaries of sustainability on the Plymouth Campus. Included interviewing other students about sustainability at Plymouth. In depth interviews with student researchers using ‘stimulated recall’ (Bloom 1954).

10 Students’ video diaries Recycling Energy (in)efficiency Water conservation Green spaces Bike racks Fair trade Procurement Student Union Centre for Sustainable Futures  Video diaries a useful method for engaging students in learning for sustainabilitysustainability

11 Themes The campus as a site of socialisation has potential for transformative education But….. Hidden curriculum giving mixed messages Lack of information about sustainability and pro-environmental behaviour Students’ perceive themselves as unequal stakeholders in campus – based sustainability Gap between external and internal representations of sustainability ‘I don’t really feel like students have much control on campus. We can’t go around turning things off and shutting things down - what we can do just seems really minor in the scheme of things compared to what they’re using all the excess energy for’. ‘Attitudes need to be changed and there is information out there but it should be made more available and more noticeable around the campus’

12 Recommendations Make more use of the campus for learning across the curriculum and informally, forming new links between education, procurement and estates; Enhancing communication about sustainability with students by engaging students directly and inviting them to contribute ideas to improve sustainability on the campus; Raising awareness of the wider economic and social dimensions of sustainability relevant to the campus; Recognise, and make explicit, the messages of the hidden curriculum to align them with the institution’s overt curriculum and policies.

13 Wider recommendations Include criteria for communicating sustainability to students beyond the Student Unions – integrate campus –based learning for sustainability to encourage transformation

14 Thank you Questions? Comments? Our contact details: Teaching and Learning Directorate, University of Plymouth, UK.

15 References Bloom, B. (1954). The thought processes of students in discussion. In S. J. French (Ed.), Accent on teaching: Experiments in general education (pp ). New York: Harper. Cotton, D.R.E & Winter, J. (2010) 'It's not just bits of paper and light bulbs': A review of sustainability pedagogies and their potential for use in Higher Education. In Sustainability Education: Perspectives and Practice Across Higher Education. Editors: Jones, P., Selby, D. & Sterling, S.) Jackson, P. (1968) Life in classrooms. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Savanick, S., String, R. and Manning, C. (2008). Explicitly linking pedagogy and facilities to campus sustainability: lessons from Carleton College and the University of Minnesota. Environmental Education Research 14(6):


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