The University of Bedfordshire team comprises of the core members of the Sustainability Forum (SF) which they formed in 2013. It includes Tamara Ashley, Helen Connolly, David Jazani, Diana Pritchard and Nicholas Worsfold. They teach in a spectrum of disciplines (Dance, Sociology, Construction and Life Sciences), while Diana is based within the Centre of Learning Excellence.
The team members share a deep commitment to building knowledge and awareness of climate change, the ecological crisis, social justice and human rights. Collaboration enables them to nurture insights from distinct perspectives and to develop ideas and practices that effectively engage widening participation students in learning about the fundamental changes in the real world, and the relevance of knowledge of their subjects for career opportunities and social action.
Impact of work
The core team sustains the SF as “a dedicated cross-disciplinary community which shares teaching practices and organises to engage the University in education that enables students to construct healthy futures for themselves, their communities and the planet.” The open and inclusive activities they hold to promote education for sustainability are founded on principles of horizontal learning, participatory and action-oriented learning. These attract staff and students from all four University faculties.
In July and November 2016 they designed and held University-wide events including a World Climate Negotiations and a Climate Change Collaboration conference to pilot experiential and realistic learning. These involved students as co-participants and co-producers - with staff and representatives of community, and public and private institutions - in dynamic interactions and conversations with practitioners, and across disciplines.
The curriculum, co-curriculum and extra-curriculum learning opportunities these events created received positive evaluations and feedback and have since been incorporated as pedagogic innovations and curriculum enrichments into University offerings.
The excitement and interest generated within and beyond the University for such collaborative approaches to broaden student horizons and inspire their interest in, responsibility to and action for, environmental and social challenges, suggests its value for other issues and contexts.
Plans for the future
If successful, the team will systematise their approach to create an evidence base of their work. This will involve elaborating a framework that identifies the domains of impact, to be developed during workshops at a national conference on civic engagement that they will organize.
Sustainability Forum (SF)
University of Bedfordshire