Posts By / Chris Shiel

Sustainability in Higher Education – updates, forthcoming events and publishing opportunities








Bournemouth University has exemplified commitment to sustainable development (Eco-campus Platinum Award) and education for sustainable development (explicit in BU2018). In relation to research, we are a member of the Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme (IUSDRP). IUSDRP now has over 100 member universities from across all continents. Details are available at:

I recently met with members at the 3rd World Symposium on Sustainability in Higher Education, held at MIT last September. I was a keynote panel member and also presented a paper which emerged from collaborative research. The conference resulted in the publication “Handbook of Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development in Higher Education” which comprises four volumes – details available at

Planning for the 4th World Symposium, to take place in Malaysia in 2018, will soon be underway. If you want further information about how you can become involved in the network, please contact me:

  1. Following the UK Symposium in Manchester last year where Neil Smith (our Sustainability manager) and I presented a paper, a book has now been published: Sustainable Development Research at Universities in the United Kingdom: approaches, methods and projects, edited by Walter Leal Filho. Springer, Berlin, January 2017, ISBN: 978-3-319-47882-1, eISBN: 978-3-319-47883-8 Link:
  2. Symposium on Education and Sustainable Development in Cities and Regions, Passo, Fundo, Brazil, 11th -12th January 2017 Guess it’s a bit late now but details available at:
  3. Symposium on Implementing Sustainability in the Curriculum of Universities: teaching approaches, methods, examples and case studies, Manchester, UK, 7th March 2017
  4. World Symposium on Sustainability Science and Research, Manchester, UK 5th-7th April 2017. Over 100 sustainability researchers will gather to discuss how best to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. Last minute inputs may be possible:
  5. Training Course on Research Publishing on Sustainable Development for Institutions of Higher Education, Manchester, UK 10th May 2017- this training course will be of special interest to anyone interested to capitalise on the many advantages that publishing on sustainable development brings about
  6. Symposium on Sustainable Development Research in Asia-Pacific, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia, 25th to 28th July 2017
  7. Call for Papers for a new book: Lifelong Learning and Education in Healthy and Sustainable Cities Editors: Azeiteiro UM, Akerman M, Leal Filho W, Setti AFF , Brandli, L.L. This book collects interdisciplinary reflections from researchers, educators and other experts about the linkages between environmental quality, human health, human education and well-being including inequality, unplanned urbanization, migration, lifestyles, and consumption and production patterns. We plan assembling interdisciplinary contributions covering wide-ranging case studies to concise reviews to conceptual approaches from different regions and contexts. The contents to be included in the book will comprise 20 to 30 articles covering, but not limited, the following main topics:
  • Urban planning to address inequality in health and urban poverty;
  • Healthy Cities and Healthy Environments;
  • Governance for sustainable development;
  • Social determinants of health oriented to sustainable development goals
  • Education and Lifelong Learning for Sustainability
  • Energy Security, Access and Efficiency
  • Sustainable Cities & Sustainable Buildings & Sustainable Infrastructure

Ultimately, this book aims at assembling wide-ranging contributions from different regions / contexts from case studies, reviews, outputs of research/studies, examples of successful projects, to theoretical and conceptual approaches, which will document current initiatives on healthy and sustainable cities/environments emphasizing mechanisms to climate change adaptation and to the achievement of sustainable development goals in a period of unprecedented global urbanization.

Expressions of interest to contribute to the book, consisting of a 200 words abstract with all contact details from the authors, should be sent to editors (,,, preferably by 15th January 2017. Papers should be in English, up to 6.000 words including references, written in Times Roman 12 and single-spaced. The first draft of chapters is to reach the editors by 30th April 2017. Editorial comments, after Peer Review, will reach authors by 31th May 2017. Revised papers will need to be (re)submitted by 30th June 2017.


Finally, this is a great network for collaboration with others on all issues related to sustainability. I shall post further opportunities as they arise


Are Sustainability Policies Good Indicators of Universities Commitment to Sustainable Development?

I have been invited to present as keynote on that question, at the opening of the “3rd World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities” (WSSD-U-201) at MIT, in Boston, this month. I will also be presenting a paper.

Organised by the Office of Sustainability at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Manchester Metropolitan University, the Research and Transfer Centre ‘Applications of Life Sciences’ at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, and in cooperation with the United National University initiative ‘Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development’ (RCE), the 3rd World Symposium takes the theme ‘Designing Tomorrow‘s Campus: Resiliency, Vulnerability, and Adaptation’, with a view to contributing to further development in this fast-growing field.

More information about the event can be found at

The conference builds on work that I have contributed to for over a decade; getting to present at MIT, after a fairly unusual career, is something that I had never imagined.

It was exciting four years ago, to be involved in the “1st World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities” (WSSD-U-2012) in Rio (2012), as a member of the Scientific Committee and a presenter. That first conference was a parallel event to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as “Rio+20”. “The Future We Want” (an outcome of Rio+20), outlined many of the measures that countries across the world should pursue and implement to address unsustainable development. Universities have a critical role to play in bringing about change but are not always doing enough of the right things – something I have been banging the drum about, since 2005.

I also contributed to the “2nd World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities” (WSSD-U-2014), which was held in Manchester, UK in September 2014. Various publications have resulted from these conferences. The Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme (which BU has signed up to) has also been established.

The third conference in Boston will result in a set of books published by Springer, as part of their award-winning “World Sustainability Series”. My role in blind-review papers, finding reviewers, editing and responding to authors etc. has been challenging. I am not a great fan of editorial work but I really have enjoyed communicating with academics across the world, about their research and sustainability projects. I am looking forward to meeting them in person when I get to Boston.

And the answer to the topic…. well, it depends!

But, at BU we are doing better than most – there is much further to go!!


Could Bournemouth be a ‘Green Capital of Europe’?

Our Festival of Learning event (27th June), in partnership with colleagues from Bournemouth Borough Council, will consider this question and explore a vision for developing green talent, sustainable business, and a sustainable city – a virtuous circle!

We shall showcase the leadership role of BU, in relation to sustainable development (education, research, community) and particularly our work to achieve EcoCampus Platinum. We shall also feature the MSc Green Economy – a course which is producing exceptional post-grads who are engaging with amazing projects.

Chris Shephard, Head of Economic Development & Sustainability at Bournemouth Borough Council will provide an update on activities, including the Compact of Mayors, the Earth Charter and work to take sustainability forward. We are already doing a lot locally (the Sustainable Food Partnership and Sustainable Fish City, for example) but are we doing enough of the right things? How do we capture and promote endeavours?

Dr Simon Cripps will talk about natural capital in the context of development planning, both of infrastructure and building, but also of development and growth projects.

Edmund Taylor, Environmental Barrister and Chair of the Sustainable Business Leadership Group (SBLG) will introduce the thinking that led to the formation of the group (we owe thanks to Lee Green), and suggest ways that others might engage. Synergies arise when business leaders work together to share practice and innovation; the group has already catalysed networking and learning.

Following formal presentations, breakout sessions will consider how we build capacity, develop leadership for sustainable development and make a step-change in valuing and contributing to natural capital.  Could we, for example report on natural capital in our Annual Reports? A valuable outcome from the event would be to have a clearer understanding of how we develop a greener economy and work towards branding ourselves as a Sustainable City – gaining the award ‘Green Capital of Europe’ at some point in the future, would be something to be proud of!

Places are free.

To book a place please register at:

Dissertations For Good – helping students to pick a research topic that makes a difference

New opportunity for your students to contribute to environmental, economic and social sustainability

As part of helping our students to make a difference to the world, BU has signed up to an NUS initiative called Dissertations for Good (DfG). The initiative  connects students with external organisations who then work collaboratively to complete research projects into social, economic and environmental sustainability. The outcome is a piece of student work that contributes in a tangible way, a report that is useful for their partnered organisation and a project that forms their dissertation.

DfG helps students to improve their communication, interpersonal, problem-solving and organisation skills, as well as developing their ability to use their initiative and self-motivate. It also provides valuable CV-enhancing experience of working in the outside world.

All students looking to undertake a research project at BU can register at and create a profile. This allows them to search the organisations participating in DfG. They then request to be partnered with the organisation and organise a planning meeting. The student, their supervisor and a representative from the partner organisation meet to discuss the project and work together to make the project a success.

Details will be circulated to students via the portal. We shall be monitoring and will seek to evaluate engagement.

Education for sustainable development – and Fairtrade

In the next few weeks I shall be sending out a call for case studies (its going to be a competition with prizes) to gather case studies of approaches used at BU to develop the knowledge, skills and competences to address the need for sustainable development. I shall be asking staff to illustrate how their teaching and learning is preparing learners to make a better job of sustaining the planet than previous generations (more details to follow).

In the meantime can I remind you that

Fairtrade Fortnight is the 29 February – 13 March.

The theme this year is

‘Sit down for Breakfast, stand up for farmers’.

We shall be celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight at venues across campus but as part of being a Fairtrade University we commit to educating our students about how Fairtrade, as an alternative mechanism works to support those less fortunate and with less opportunity to participate in trading systems. Fairtrade is one aspect of BU’s work to be a sustainable university.

It would be great if you were able to introduce the concept of Fairtrade to your students during Fairtrade Fortnight. Here is a link to a book a colleague and myself once wrote wjhen we introduced Fairtrade to BU.

Please contact me if you want to discuss ideas.

I know it is a challenge to introduce Fairtrade in some subjects but if you can it would be really appreciated. Alternatively, perhaps you could consider holding an event in your Faculty/Department – a Fairtrade Breakfast perhaps?

COP21: a summary of the Paris Agreement and the implications for BU

As we move into an era where the emphasis on carbon reduction will come to the fore, we are sharing with you a brief summary of the Paris Agreement and the implications for Bournemouth University. This is an extract from a longer paper that includes the implications for Industrialised and Developing Nations as well as  policy implications. Aplologies but it was just too long for a blog post.

At Bournemouth we have achieved much to reduce carbon and to develop iniatives to secure more sustainabel development. In the light of the Paris Agreement, we need to do more in 2016!

Main Points of the Paris Agreement:

  • The main difference between this treaty and others that have gone before it is its scope. In particular, the draft lays out plans to limit temperature rises until at least 2050 – this is much longer term than has ever been agreed before.
  • 187 countries have put forward plans to cut and curb carbon emissions to 2020, and beyond.
  • Within the agreement, the targets are known as Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs). All 187 countries have submitted their INDCs.
  • Developed and developing countries are required to set targets to limit their emissions to levels which would see warming of 2°C, with an aspiration of limiting warming to 1.5°C. Vulnerable countries – like the Marshall Islands in Micronesia – pushed for a 1.5°C limit but the draft deal only promises to make it a target rather than a pledge.
  • However, observers have calculated that all of the targets, if delivered, will not keep warming to 2°C but to 2.7°C above pre-industrial levels. Above this 2°C threshold, effects of climate change such as droughts, floods, heat waves and sea level rises are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.
  • Additionally, emissions targets are not legally binding and are determined by individual countries. However, it promises to hold countries to account if they fail to meet the targets they set out in their plans to reduce emissions during the 2020s.
  • Countries are required to review and submit their emissions targets every five years with the “first global stocktake in 2023 and every five years subsequently”. The review process is to ensure that targets are in line with the latest scientific advice. This review process is legally binding.
  • The agreement covers “loss and damage”: finance will be provided to poor nations to help them cut emissions and cope with the effects of extreme weather. The agreement makes some concessions to developing countries, acknowledging “urgent need to enhance the provision of finance, technology and capacity” and promote “universal access to sustainable energy” – particularly in Africa – with a focus on renewables. There will be a $100 billion fund from developed economies to help emerging and developing nations decarbonise their energy mix. Countries affected by climate-related disasters will gain urgent aid.
  • The agreement also requires a limit on the emissions of greenhouse gases from human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.
  • In the aftermath of the Paris Agreement, it is more important than ever that BU makes a commitment to reduce its carbon emissions as much as possible, as quickly as possible. However, commitment alone is insufficient if it does not translate into effective action.
  • The EU is one of the top greenhouse gas emitters accounting for 9% of global emissions.
  • As a large organisation, we emitted 7,680 tonnes of carbon in 2014. BU needs to play its part in helping the UK meet its reduction targets.
  • With social and environmental responsibility at the heart of the BU ethos, we must take our role in curbing global warming seriously.
  • BU2018 states: “We will consider corporate social responsibility as we develop policies and procedures across all relevant areas for example corporate governance, environmental management, stakeholder engagement, employee and community relations, social equity, and responsible procurement.” This is directly in line with the Paris Agreement, with regards to ensuring the poorest people in developing nations are protected from the worst effects of climate change.
  • BU is committed to “ensuring we operate an affordable, sustainable and secure estate”. It is quite possible that in order to control UK greenhouse gas emissions, we will see higher energy prices and increased taxation on emissions in the future. From a financial standpoint, BU needs to do everything it possibly can to reduce its emissions as a business as usual scenario is likely to seeing spiralling costs over the coming years and reduce the competitiveness of the University as a whole.
  • Embedding sustainability into the culture of BU will be important to secure further reductions; technological solutions alone will not suffice.
  • BU aims to “ensure that graduates develop a global perspective and understand the need for sustainable development by seeking to embed sustainable development across the curriculum”. If sustainable development is more fully embedded within the curriculum and across the extra-curricular sphere the impact will be to reduce unsustainable behaviours (with reductions of carbon and utilities) but also BU graduates will be better prepared for an employability context where carbon reduction is a key focus.

Thanks to Victoria Penson (for starting the paper) and  Dr. Neil Smith for their contributions. Please contact me if you would like to read the other sections.



News from WAN: First woman to ski Antarctica; only person to do so on muscle power alone!


WAN celebrated Christmas with a networking event, and an inspirational presentation from Felicity Aston, MBE.

Felicity started her career as a Senior Meteorologist working with the British Antarctic Survey. When she started in Antarctica (having completed her MSc), she knew that she would not be returning home for some time – she spent three summers and two winters at the station, as is typical for staff. Her love affair with a snowy landscape went from there….

Felicity shared some of her subsequent experience, including:

  • The Polar Challenge – in 2005, she was part of the first all-female team to complete the race across Arctic Canada to the North Magnetic Pole coming 6th out of 16 teams
  • In 2006, she was part of the first all-female British expedition across the Greenland ice sheet
  • In 2009, she was the team leader of the Kaspersky Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition. The team comprised women from six Commonwealth member countries and they skied to the South Pole to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth.

However, most of her presentation was about the motivation and endurance required to complete her most extreme journey, crossing the Antarctic, by herself, using muscle power alone – an accomplishment that was truly astounding.

She started by asking the audience: “When were you last actually alone?” This prompted the audience to think about how little time any of us spend completely by ourselves; who we are is very often a product of those around us. Would we want to experience ‘self’ in a period of long isolation? Could we do so without any other human reference points? What would be the cognitive dissonance?

It was good to hear that Felicity is very human (rather than a super warrior) – once the intrepid achiever had been dropped off and her transport had departed the first thing that Felicity did, was to sit down on her sledge and cry! Being reduced to tears when a hurdle seems un-surmountable is a common experience for many; hearing that this courageous woman did likewise, was heartening.

She experienced physical anxiety, including breathing difficulties, a raised pulse and actual shaking. But then she pulled herself together and just got on with it, although ‘getting on with it’, required more endurance than any of us can imagine! She was pulling her supplies in two sledges, weighing approx. 85kg, in temperatures of -22F (-30C), on a journey that would take 59 days, many of which were complete white-outs.

She became anxious about losing kit, or things not working. Her broken lighter left her with just 46 matches to light her stove. She had panic attacks at times and had to focus on her breathing. Her mask to protect her from exposure froze like iron against her face each morning. She had to remember to break her food into postage-stamp sized peices to pass through the small gap in the mask during the day. She started thinking that “if you think something will go wrong, it probably will – so take action”. She spent ages one day, securing her one and only spade, as the thought of it falling off the top of her sledge without her notice, had occupied her thoughts.

As days passed, it became harder and harder to motivate herself. The little voice inside her head would say “just stay in your tent another hour” but another voice would come up with incentives to continue: “if you get up and go, you can eat all your chocolate in one go.” In the end, common-sense prevailed and the over-arching ‘mantra’ became “just get out of the tent”.

Just get out of the tent” was a powerful message – once the first step is taken the next one follows.

She spent Christmas and New Year alone. Eventually after so little visual stimulation, she started talking to the sun; eventually the sun spoke back. She then had hallucinatory episodes where she saw dismembered floating hands pointing the way, and a gnome-like man who rode off on a small dinosaur. She shared her photos, made jokes and laughed at herself. She spoke with frankness about her weaknesses, demonstrating true humility and lack of ego – something that is uncommon in male achievers.

The audience were endeared to her!

In conclusion, it now makes applying for promotion, submitting that publication, going for that award etc., seem like an easy step in comparison. So, as Felicity would suggest, “just get out of the tent” – achievement begins with that first easy step!

Finally, big thank you to Sara who had organised the event but was off sick – get well soon and a very Happy Christmas, to our WAN community from your co-convenors – Heather, Chris and Sara.

Australia endorses “New Learning and Teaching Standards for Environment and Sustainability Higher Education”

As colleagues will be aware, I have been a passionate advocate of education for sustainability (EfS) and global citizenship. I have worked across the sector to support change, and within BU have contributed to such things as the People and Planet Green League, Eco-campus and many other iniatives to enhance our environmental credentials but also to ensure that through education, we prepare students to lead (and make a difference) in a context that is global but also has to be sustainable.

We have more to achieve at BU in relation to the educative agenda, so in this regard I am sharing this work from Australian colleagues. I would not suggest that we need to impose standards but I would suggest that we might all consider how we could do more to ensure that the learning we provide enables our graduates to become better custodians of the world.

New Learning and Teaching Standards for Environment and Sustainability Higher Education

New national standards for tertiary qualifications in Environment and Sustainability have now been released. The standards are endorsed by the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (ACEDD) and have been developed through an intensive twelve month process, including consultation with the broad Australian and international stakeholder community of tertiary educators and researchers, employers and practitioners, students, indigenous people and other environmental educators. These standards can be used to design and deliver innovative environment and sustainability higher education in Australia. The standards are included in the Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement for Environment and Sustainability, available from or via the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching website ( For more information about the standards and the process of their development please contact the project co-leaders:

Dr Bonnie McBain ( or

Dr Liam Phelan (



International Women’s Day Celebration Event held by WAN

Bournemouth University’s Women’s Academic Network (WAN) met at the Executive Business Centre to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) on 6 March 2015.  It provided space for reflection on WAN’s next steps at BU and recognition about women’s progress since the early 20th century. Indeed, the first official day to recognise women’s contribution to society was held in 1910 in Copenhagen, and this was a precursor to gradual policy change across Europe to support women’s suffrage and the right to work.  International Women’s Day, as we know it now, is a more recent development launched by the United Nations in 1975.

Our guest speaker for International Women’s Day was Siobhan Benita, Chief Policy and Strategy Officer, at Warwick University’s Department of Economics, and co-director of the Warwick Policy Lab.  Prior to joining Warwick, Siobhan achieved significant results as a senior civil servant who also led gender balance and diversity policies across Whitehall.

A quick Google of images when typing in the search terms ‘vice chancellor’, ‘FTSE chief executive’, ‘permanent secretary’, ‘MP’, or indeed, any major influential role in British society and the pictures that emerge are still overwhelmingly of middle-aged men clad in the classic grey business suit.

Siobhan recollected that when she joined Civil Service Fast Stream 15 years ago, one of her team found an old letters file from the HR archive. It was from women begging to be reinstated to their Civil Service jobs after their fiancés had jilted them before their wedding day. The file was from 1973; at the time Home Civil Service rules stipulated that women resign from their posts if they intended to get married.

Thirty years later, Siobhan has overseen changes that would have been unthinkable a decade earlier. Achieving greater diversity at all levels in the Civil Service has also ensured that policy design works better, because it reflects the fabric of the UK’s communities better.

What made the difference was that Siobhan was given active support from the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O’ Donnell, who also wanted to make equality and diversity a visible and measurable outcome in how the Civil Service operated. The class system was a particular challenge to overcome.  Sir Gus made it a performance requirement for all Permanent Secretaries (CEO’s of government departments) to demonstrate that they had promoted suitably qualified and talented women and people from diverse backgrounds to senior roles. 

This also meant that every government department had to provide annual diversity league tables and facilitate women’s networks in the Civil Service.  Fantastic women, who later were recognised for their excellent work, were promoted including the World Bank economist Nemat ‘Minouche’ Shafik, who became Permanent Secretary, DFID.  It is one of the most demanding posts in government with its 24/7 response to global crises, yet Minouche negotiated a workday that allowed her to also manage her family responsibilities. By 2011, as a result of this culture change, gender balance was achieved in almost 50% of senior civil service posting, including some of the more traditionally challenging areas such as the Home Office, MOD and Health.

One of the philosophies behind the policy was that any targets set, needed to work at all levels of the organisation, not just the top.

After stepping down from the Civil Service in 2012, Siobhan took a leap of faith and stood as an independent candidate during the Mayor for London elections opposite Boris Johnson. Her manifesto represented communities and young people. She received no funding and had no party machine behind her, yet still managed to achieve 250,000 votes, coming fifth, behind the Liberal Democrat candidate, Brian Paddick. 

This was quite an achievement, as at the time, it was almost impossible for an independent Mayoral candidate to achieve airtime at the BBC. Siobhan campaigned with the BBC Trust to incorporate the Electoral Society rules in their decision-making on representation, as their campaign reports focused almost entirely on the Johnson/Livingstone/Paddick offer. As a result of Siobhan’s personal intervention, the rules have been changed to include independents. 

It didn’t also help that the press coverage for Siobhan’s campaign, even with solid briefings on policy, budget and planning were left out, while Siobhan’s role as a mother, her clothes, hairdo made up 90% of any feature. This made it very difficult for her to explain how her policies differed from the other candidates..

Siobhan culminated her presentation with her contention that BU’s WAN network should ensure that its objectives were visible and continually at the forefront of university decision-making.  She praised WAN’s work at BU and urged everyone – men and women across the university, to keep plugging away to achieve change.

Athena Swan Bronze Update

Professor Tiantian Zhang, Head of the Graduate School at Bournemouth University, gave WAN members the latest update on BU’s Athena Swan submission to achieve equality in both science and academic research.  Significant effort had gone into building evidence to support BU’s application and WAN’s contribution and objectives had made a significant difference to its Athena Swan application this time around; keeping up WAN’s visibility and impact would be important in the future.

This led to facilitated table discussions from WAN members about its future goals and meetings.  One of the suggestions to support BU achieving the Bronze Athena SWAN award was a campus to campus procession of BU academics in October, as it was a visible statement of progress. 

Several ideas for events were suggested, including joint meetings with WAN groups from other universities to share knowledge and best practice and taking forward the Action Learning Sets.  A presentation to the BU Executive and academics from Sir Gus O’ Donnell might also be helpful in achieving a framework that could lead to some useful outcomes.

Report from Natasha Tobin

Bournemouth & Poole Sustainable Food City Partnership achieve Sustainable Fish City Award – a great outcome from partnership working.

I have reported previously on BU’s engagement as a partner in the Bournemouth & Poole Sustainable Food City Partnership (SFC)

It is now exciting to provide a further update – as part of the project Bournemouth and Poole have become the first towns in the world to achieve Sustainable Fish City status.  Some of the most important caterers and restaurant locally have committed to serving only verifiably sustainable fish, impacting upon over 3.6 million fish meals a year throughout the towns.

The campaign, run by the partnership, has been asking businesses and organisations across the two towns to make a pledge and commit to only using sustainably sourced fish in their menus.  Institutions involved include nearly all primary schools, leisure centres, theatres, Bournemouth Pavilion, large workplace restaurants, Bournemouth University, all major hospitals and some of the most iconic and best-loved restaurants including the Highcliff Marriot Hotel and A.F.C. Bournemouth. Despite hot competition from a number of other cities across the UK we are the first to receive the prestigious five star Sustainable Fish City award.

It is a truly extraordinary achievement which will have a huge impact on the local and national supply chain for fish.

Already we are seeing the impact of the campaign beyond Bournemouth and Poole – Harrison Catering Services, one of the UK’s top education and workplace caterers have recently taken the Fish Cities pledge on behalf of their UK-wide operation, and a major inspiration was the pledge of their Poole-based customer, the Jordans and Ryvita Company.

Molly Scott Cato, South West Green MEP, presented the award to Matt Budden, the Executive Chef of the Highcliff Grill at the Marriott Hotel on behalf of Sustainable Fish Cities at her recent visit to the area.

Ruth Westcott, Co-ordinator of Sustainable Fish Cities said:

“We are absolutely delighted to crown the world’s first Sustainable Fish City in Bournemouth and Poole – this campaign began back in 2011, inspired by the sustainable fish on the menu at the London 2012 Olympics, and it has taken a lot of hard work to get here.

Many of the world’s fish stocks are in a worryingly depleted state, but there are still shockingly few places in the UK that you can eat out safe in the knowledge that you are not eating an endangered or unsustainably caught species. Bournemouth and Poole’s most important and iconic institutions have proven that it is possible for any kind of caterer or restaurant to take action on this issue. I am sure they will be an inspiration to many other towns and cities in the UK to follow suit.”

Sarah Watson, Manager of the Sustainable Food City Partnership for Bournemouth and Poole said:

“We were determined that Bournemouth and Poole would be the first area to achieve this award.  We not only have some of the best places to eat out in the country but we also have an important fishing industry around Poole Quay which is a significant part of our local culture.”

Following on from the MDGS- the SDGS

 I have been working in the area of educating global citizens who understand the need for sustainable  development for almost fifteen years. As the Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (2004-2014) has drawn to a close, and we have seen a review of progress against the Millennium Development Goals (insufficient progress essentially), I have been watching with interest as the strategy for taking actions forward emerges.

 Essentially the MDGS will be replaced by the SDGs – will more  sustainable development and social justice be achieved as a consequence?

An  international report which has just been released by the International Council for Science provides an expert commentary on the proposed 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.  My colleague (Professor Stephen Sterling – aka the ‘Godfather’ of ESD) was asked to write the section on Goal 4 and its associated targets. He has warned that the proposed Goal and targets are strong on access to  education but weak in terms of viewing education and learning as a key part of engaging and helping address the 16 other SDGs.

If you are interested in follwoing this up, the full report may be found  here (see p27 for Education):

 and news coverage is here:


Reuters Alert Net

The report will now be used as part of the UN backed process of refining the SDGs before they are agreed and launched later this year.

If we are to prepare BU graduates who are able to make a significant contribution to the world, it seems valuable to keep abreast of such developments.

How well are we enabling our students to work towards sustainable development and a better world? How might we do that better?



Internationalisation and learning and teaching

During 2013/14 I have been involved in project work led by the Higher Education Academy, on internationalisation. A ‘learning and teaching summit’ of approximately 30 UK and international experts, held in 2013, provided the outline for the project and worked towards the development of an internationalisation framework; subsequent consultation across the sector resulted in refinements.

The outcome is ‘The Internationalisation higher education framework’ which was launched at the HEA’s Annual Conference, ‘Preparing for learning futures: the next ten years’, at Aston University.   The framework is available on the HEA’s website and is worthy of reflection.

We might at this point consider: what else we could do to internationalise the curriculum at BU? How should we prepare learners of all nationalities to contribute to a better global future? Does the curriculum and experience we provide enable all learners to make a difference to the world?

One way that Bath Spa university is considering preparing its international students is by teaching them separately for the first year, then allowing them (if they pass) to join UK students in the second year. I am not in favour of this approach. However, it proved to be the subject of lively debate on a ‘live chat’ for the Guardian HE network. I participated as a panel member in the discussion, which was titled: ‘Should academics adapt their teaching for international students?’

The live chat was about learning and teaching and internationalisation; it attracted more than 200 comments on the website, in addition to debate on Twitter (using #HElivechat). More details are available at:

I think we do need to adapt our approaches for international students but we also need to be aware that diversity goes beyond being ‘foreign’.  The aim has to be to develop (and deliver) an inclusive curriculum, where diversity is addressed in the widest sense – but this is a challenge. Perhaps the ‘inclusive curriculum’ work currently being taken forward by CEL, may go some way to developing new ideas. 

If you would like to discuss any aspects of ‘internationalisation’ and learning and teaching please feel free to contact me.


Sustentabilidade nas Universidades; Reflections on ERASMUS mobility – a personal and professional development opportunity

I have just returned from an ERASMUS training visit (to share and develop approaches for sustainable development) at the University of Beira Interior (UBI), Covilhã, Portugal. Such a rewarding experience!

Located on the slopes of Serra da Estrela, Covilhã looks out on a fertile valley, framed by mountains – a beautiful location, largely unfamiliar to people from the UK.

The city was once regarded as the ‘Portuguese Manchester’ for its long tradition in the wool industry and textile production, however like other textile towns production ceased, people moved away, and the social and economic consequences for the region were immense.

The University has brought new life to the area and is working towards enhancing the sustainability of the region. One of the most interesting characteristics of UBI is its focus on recovering the abandoned buildings that were formally part of the industrial production process and creating a better environment; retaining historical, cultural and architectural value, while developing sustainable educational facilities has been an important goal.

During my trip I had the opportunity to visit the various sites, give presentations and meet with colleagues. The University has five Faculties (Science, Engineering, Human & Social Sciences, Arts & Letters, and Health Sciences).

Particularly interesting was the tour of the University Wool Museum which is integrated into the science building, and reveals the archaeological structures of the early production process, sets out the historical development of technology, and provides insights on industrialisation. I came away from the tour, thinking of the various ways that this facility could be used to enhance learning for students on any course, not just those interested in science and technology. The motto of the museum “The Threads of the past weaving the future” left me thinking that when we focus on sustainable development, we often emphasise ‘future generations’ but we must also acknowledge and learn from the past.

My visit to the Rectory (housed in the former Convent of Santo António and their equivalent of OVC) also left me thinking. Firstly, they have made a fantastic job of restoration and conversion; they really could do with some students (as motivated as BU students) to reclaim the lovely terraces. Olive and fruit trees are largely over-grown; the space cries out to be developed as a sustainable garden. Secondly, they have made great use of space in the former chapel, however where the choir would formerly have sat, is now where doctoral candidates are judged – the jury type seating made it seem a really intimidating space compared to a room in Christchurch House, to defend a Thesis. And lastly, if I was a member of the senior team in such an idyllic spot, I would probably not be able to resist the urge to get out a hoe and create a vegetable plot – however the urge to just sit in the sun and admire the view, would also be strong!

It is always interesting to meet new colleagues, learn from their perspectives, and to talk with students. The students I presented to during my visit (on Sustentabilidade nas Universidades) were very impressed with what we are doing in the UK, and at BU, to address sustainability. They had lots of questions; later their tutor reported that not only were they were interested to know more but were also challenging her as to why BU students seemed to have a better experience. Some were very keen to come to Bournemouth.

Overall, I came away feeling enriched and with new perspectives. I would recommend an ERASMUS visit to others. Okay the paperwork can seem bureaucratic at first glance but don’t be put off, the rewards are high. I have published four co-authored papers as a result of my first ERASMUS visit; more collaborative outputs will follow. Further, the opportunity to develop broader cultural perspectives on research interests, enhance your language capability and to evaluate how higher education operates in another country is personally and professionally rewarding.

If you would like to make contacts at UBI please get in touch. I would be happy to help.