Towards a Framework for University-wide Postgraduate Programmes in Sustainability

By David Grierson and Claire Hyland.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The role of Higher Education Institutions in addressing social, environmental, and economic challenges and opportunities in today’s world is immense, complex, and vital (GUNI, 2008). Traditionally responses to sustainable development (SD) have been concentrated within specific subjects, however there has been a gradual penetration of sustainability issues into a wide spectrum of disciplines (HEA, February 2009. The definition and priorities of SD are complex and multi-layered and the challenges presented, being inherently holistic, require equal responses from all disciplines. This requires the development of a framework for University-wide, cross disciplinary teaching. The University of Strathclyde has been ranked first in the Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Observatory Report 2008. Building on this success, work is underway to develop a university-wide, interdisciplinary Strathclyde Masters programme in Sustainability (SMS, aimed at articulating a framework for integrating flagship postgraduate courses & classes, sustainability literacy & skills training workshops. This paper summarises the theories of sustainability and its inherent interdisciplinary nature by examining current thinking in ESD. This has highlighted the need to review the current curriculum, identifying current interdisciplinary provision aligned with ESD, and implement a multi-stakeholder consultation process. The paper describes how these theories might be put into practice, detailing the conclusions drawn from the initial consultation process involving external organisations, students, academic staff and the university’s professional services. In addition, a model ‘Sustainability Map’ is presented offering an overview of postgraduate provision of ESD within the institution as a whole, alongside details of the courses offered and contributing departments. The outcome of the multi-stakeholder consultation process, in conjunction with the ‘Sustainability Map’, will help inform future consultation focusing on structural refinement and the academic content of the interdisciplinary programme.

Keywords: Interdisciplinarity, Postgraduate Programmes, Education for Sustainable Development, Stakeholder Consulation

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.549-564. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.133MB).

Dr. David Grierson

Programme Director of Sustainable Engineering, Director of Postgraduate Research in Architecture, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Dr. Grierson is both an architect and academic. He is currently Director of Postgraduate Research in Architecture and has directed the Postgraduate Programme in Sustainable Engineering at University of Strathclyde Glasgow since 2004. His teaching and research interests are in sustainable architecture and urban design. He is particularly active in the integration of teaching and learning activity across the postgraduate community, and the promotion of knowledge exchange through increased engagement with business, industry, the professions, and other institutions. Dr. Grierson is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and a visiting professor at Universities in Rome and Florence. His own architectural work has been exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibition in London and he has gained a number of architectural awards including two Glasgow Institute of Architecture (GIA) Design Awards. He is a recipient of the Sir Rowan Anderson Silver Medal for Architectural Design from th Royal Institute of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

Claire Hyland

Sustainability Research Assistant, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Claire Hyland graduated from Postgraduate Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in 2007. She is currently employed as a Sustainability Research Assistant in the Department of Architecture at Strathclyde supporting Dr. David Grierson in consulting widely on the framework for developing new postgraduate activity in the area of environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Claire’s main interests are in sustainable and accessible architecture and urban design, education and graphic design. She is also currently working with a visually impaired PhD student of Architecture, assisting in his research and image production and gaining experience through tutoring students. Additional projects include working in collaboration with colleagues in creating and designing workshop activities for school children based on sustainable communities (event to be held in the Science Centre, Glasgow as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2010). Previous to her engagement at the university, Claire gained professional experience working in architectural practices both in the Glasgow and Spain, where she experienced a different culture and working methods as well as gaining fluency in the language.


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