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Mission impossible - or never ending story? Working on whole system change towards sustainability at the University of Plymouth, UK Dr Stephen Sterling.

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Presentation on theme: "Mission impossible - or never ending story? Working on whole system change towards sustainability at the University of Plymouth, UK Dr Stephen Sterling."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mission impossible - or never ending story? Working on whole system change towards sustainability at the University of Plymouth, UK Dr Stephen Sterling Centre for Sustainable Futures University of Plymouth, UK CREE seminar University of Bath 13 th July 2009

2 Outline Context and challenge CSFs approach Barriers and plusses Progress - and work in progress What weve learnt/implications for others Some deeper questions...

3 Context and challenge

4 Reinventing the university …it is pre-eminently in the universities that we should be thinking hardest about the implications of the whole world-system for our common life and its future, and bringing the best of our available intelligence to bear on the necessary changes. If not there, where? If thats not the business of universities in the early twenty-first century, what on earth are they for? -John Foster, 2007 From review of Michael MGonigles Planet U: Reinventing the University

5 Vision The transformation of the UoP - from an institution characterised by significant areas of excellence in ESD - to an institution modelling university- wide excellence and hence able to make a major contribution to ESD regionally, nationally and internationally.

6 The context – the UoP Largest university in the southwest with over 30,000 students and is the fifth largest UK university based on student population. It has almost 3,000 staff and an annual income of around £160 million. Currently markets itself as the enterprise university.

7 Centre for Sustainable Futures: Key features Five-year Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning ( ) £ 4.5 million (2M Capital spend in first 18 months); from Higher Education Funding Council for England Core Team of 9 (Director, Associate Director, Reader, Centre Manager, Research Coordinator, 2 Research Assistants, Administrator, 1 Student Assistant ) Probably largest sustainability-related pedagogical and institutional change research team in UK CSF directly linked to the Office of the Vice Chancellor : 43 bought-out academics normally on a.2 basis Centre a once-derelict building retrofitted to high sustainability standards

8 CSFs approach

9 Proposition Whole system change depends on developing a sufficient critical, collective and connective intelligence - with regard to both systematic and systemic aspects of organisational change. Leadership is shifting the collective attention at all levels – Scharmer, 2006

10 Towards holistic change - the 4C model developed by CSF at Plymouth

11 And some more Cs.... Connection Communication Collaboration Coherence Consistency Congruence Process Foci Outcome

12 Systematic – frameworks - policies, strategies, rules, procedures, assessment, evaluation, structures etc Systemic – glue - collegiality, social learning and exchange, informal networks, collective intelligence, ethos, self-organisation etc converter role enabler role Two dimensions of change

13 Two arenas of learning Structured learning: - intentioned learning amongst students in formal education which arises from educational policies and practices Attendant learning: - the social learning response to sustainability in organisations, institutions and their actors

14 CSFs approach - action keywords Learning Dialoguing Inviting Mentoring Facilitating Valuing Challenging Supporting Opportunism Platforming Connecting Initiating

15 Barriers and plusses

16 Advantages of CSF Well funded. Some prestige as CETL Well connected, knowledgeable staff Initial chancellery support; Corporate plan Unusual status in university, belonging to no faculty, and no previous baggage Free rein and encouragement from HEFCE to be innovative Quite fertile ground – levels of interest, awareness and existing activity Funded connection with HE Academy ESD Project Reputation in wider field and expectations on UP Supportive context: increasing sustainability profile in HE and wider society

17 Barriers Plusses UoP barriers include Uncertain institutional commitment Other agendas at senior level (compatibility?) Communication Policy incoherence Limited understanding of sustainability outside the converted Little tradition of interdisciplinarity or pedagogic innovation CSF small part in large institution & end of funding looming Positives include Support/progress at senior management level CSF 5 yr funding and experience Pockets of expertise and enthusiasm across university Funded connection with UK HE Academy External recognition of UoPs reputation – profile Rising expectation, initiatives and interest in HE and wider society around sustainability

18 Progress – and work in progress

19 Self-imposed criteria (CSF) Sustainability vision – policy statement Whole institution strategy and action plan SEO with known responsibility for implementation Senior executive committee Regular sustainability and environmental auditing Sustainability applied to all aspects of campus operation Ethical investment policy Excellent internal communication Excellent external communication of sustainability message Holistic perception and management of 4 Cs Embedding sustainability in formal and informal learning of students Sustainability principles and pedagogy in L&T policy University sustainability research centre and research strategy Culture of organisational learning and improvement Concern for wellbeing of whole community as well as achievement

20 How are we doing (roughly)? Sustainability vision – policy statement - 4 Whole institution strategy and action plan - 3 SEO with known responsibility for implementation – 2.5 Senior executive committee Regular sustainability and environmental auditing - 4 Sustainability applied to all aspects of campus operation - 4 Ethical investment policy – 2.5 X Excellent internal communication - 1 Excellent external communication of sustainability message - 3 Holistic perception and management of 4 Cs - 2 Embedding sustainability in formal and informal learning of students - 3 Sustainability principles and pedagogy in L&T policy - 4 University sustainability research centre and research strategy – (potentially) 3/4 Culture of organisational learning and improvement – 3.5 Concern for wellbeing of whole community as well as achievement – 3

21 Whats good, so far? Sustainability adopted as one of three platform foci for the university – Corporate Plan Sustainability policy March 2008 Sustainability Strategic Action Plan, with 72 actions and tracking facility Sustainability Advisory Group in chancellery ISO and BS8900 Signed Earth Charter Sustainable procurement policy Ethical investment policy in pipeline Campus developments and CAALR project Student engagement – Sound Impact, Green Gowns, Green Week Curriculum innovation Research Occasional Papers on key aspects of HE sustainability External recognition e.g. HEFCE, HEA, and Green League top position averaged out over last three years

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23 Green gowns - shortlisted Green ICT PlymDESK5: Enhancing the Universitys Green Credentials With a Full Life-Cycle Desktop Service Continuous improvement – institutional change A model for Institutional Change and Transformation Social responsibility Shattering Glass Walls to Deliver Sustainable Community Enterprise

24 UoP Green Agenda Through our development plan and key policies we have committed to: Conservation of natural resources used by the university Minimising adverse environmental effects of travelling Ethical and sustainable procurement The well being of our people and employee relations Enhancing our community and public engagement Developing sustainability-literate graduates

25 CSFs curriculum related work includes… UP Sustainability Policy and Action Plan Supporting the sustainability dimension in Skills Plus policy Integrating sustainability into LTHE Sowing Seeds sustainability module guidance Staff wiki site on ESD resources and practice Web-based interactive learning activities bank Professional Support Programme (PSP) as part of Staff Development Scholarship scheme with Schumacher College Curriculum stories research (curriculum development experience) Learning and teaching framework (in prep)

26 Sowing Seeds HOW TO MAKE YOUR MODULES A BIT MORE SUSTAINABILITY ORIENTED A help guide to writing and modifying modules to incorporate sustainability principles Centre for Sustainable Futures University of Plymouth

27 A few outputs... CSF Occasional Paper 3: Getting it Together - Interdisciplinarity and Sustainability in the Higher Education Institution Jones, P,Trier, C. and Richards, J. Embedding Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education: A Case Study Examining Common Challenges and Opportunities for undergraduate Programmes. Kagawa, F., Selby, D. and Trier, C Exploring students' perceptions of interactive pedagogies in education for sustainable development. Planet, 17, Selby, D The catalyst that is sustainability: Bringing permeability to disciplinary boundaries. Planet, 17, Sowing Seeds: HOW TO MAKE YOUR MODULES A BIT MORE SUSTAINABILITY ORIENTED Cotton et al (2009) Revolution s and second best solutions – ESD in HE, Studies in Higher Education

28 CSF Occasional Papers Paper 1: Marketing University Sustainability Credentials Paper 2: Green Travel Plans Paper 3: Getting it Together - Interdisciplinarity and Sustainability in the Higher Education InstitutionPaper 3: Getting it Together - Interdisciplinarity and Sustainability in the Higher Education Institution Paper 4: Internationalisation and Sustainability in the Higher Education: Snug or Strange Bedfellows?Paper 4: Internationalisation and Sustainability in the Higher Education: Snug or Strange Bedfellows? Paper 5: Sustainability and Governance Paper 6: Enterprise Earthwise - Researching the relationship between enterprise and sustainability in HEPaper 6: Enterprise Earthwise - Researching the relationship between enterprise and sustainability in HE Paper 7: Towards the Healthy University: Sustainability and Well-being in Higher Education InstitutionsPaper 7: Towards the Healthy University: Sustainability and Well-being in Higher Education Institutions

29 What weve learnt – implications for others

30 What weve learnt.... Dont over-reach your capacity Marketing and communication is vital Attract allies and support them Create spaces for discussion, exchange and trust building Make connections that wouldnt otherwise exist Dont assume too much Slow is the new fast Balance systematic and systemic aspects Balance your grit function with your integrative function Value and build on existing things that support sustainability Continually learn how the organisation works Be exemplary as far as reasonable Ensure feedback Passion and commitment is key – but hard to sustain Keywords: invitation, challenge, persistence, opportunism, profile, external recognition, celebration...

31 Deeper questions

32 However.... There is always a tendency for significant challenges (such as education for sustainability) to be understood and accommodated within the norms of the existing system - rather than change the system to be congruent with the challenge (first order change).

33 EUSD? at present most of our universities are still leading the way in advancing the kind of thinking, teaching and research that…accelerates un-sustainability (Wals 2008, 31). Wals, A (2008) (ed.) From cosmetic reform to meaningful integration: implementing education for sustainable development in higher education institutes - the state of affairs in six European countries, DHO, Amsterdam.

34 UoP as the enterprise university (so how does that leave sustainability?) No problem There are no tensions between the two, enterprise and sustainability are interchangeable. [quote from UoP staff] Subsumation Enterprise should be thought of within the context of sustainability, otherwise its likely to be unsustainable. [quote from UoP staff] Happy marriage? at Plymouth, we are particularly interested in the role that we can play in the community, enhancing the impact of our volunteering and that of ethical, sustainable and socially-focused enterprise - Wendy Purcell, VC

35 UoP: a story of transformation...or accommodation? How about your story? Differences, commonalities? What patterns of thinking lie beneath commonly occurring resistances to change? What kind of learning and change needs to occur within policy and practice so that sustainability competencies, understandings and values are more likely to be fostered amongst staff and students? How can such learning and change be encouraged rapidly but also deeply and critically? How do we balance urgency and practicability? What does it take to achieve the really sustainable university fit for our times?

36 Centre for Sustainable Futures Kirkby Lodge University of Plymouth Drake Circus Devon PL4 8AA United Kingdom ESD CETL

37

38 Ultimately, its not about...

39 Its about...

40 Useful websites Centre for Sustainable Futures (CSF) at UP HEFCEs online resource for sustainable development in HE Higher Education Academy ESD Project Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC)


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