Bag over Taunton

Somerset College short listed for green award

Groundbreaking research carried out by a tutor and her team at Somerset College was short-listed for the prestigious Green Gown awards at the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges Conference.

Dr Denise Summers of Somerset College saw her work on embedding Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the curriculum announced as one of the short-listed bids for the Green Gown Award in Research at Warwick University last week.

The entry is the only College based nominee to make the short list, the four other bids are all University based. More than 100 institutions entered over 180 bids to these increasingly sought after awards.

Inspired through leadership for sustainability and staff development for the 50 sustainability champions at the College, Denise and her team have been working on embedding sustainability into the Certificate in Education/PGCE course for the past two years. Denise was funded initially through a joint Research Fellowship from the Higher Education Learning Partnerships Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the Centre for Sustainable Futures, both based at the University of Plymouth, as well as Somerset College.

Denise has presented papers at a range of national Conferences; the team has presented a seminar at the Centre for Sustainable Futures and contributed to a forthcoming Learning and Skills Council booklet.

Denise and her team use an action research, co-operative inquiry approach which has enabled them to support each other in developing the necessary knowledge, values, skills and confidence to introduce sustainability to their students, who teach in the lifelong learning sector.

Denise said ‘We're delighted to be shortlisted for this award; Universities are all about research so it's exciting for a College to be up there with the best research institutes in the country.

‘It has been a voyage of discovery as this research approach is based around regular meetings at which we share our knowledge, experiences and resources and identify action points to work on and share our reflections on these before the next meeting. The student teachers on the course have been enthused by ESD and the work they have developed has been of a very good standard.'

Through this research, Denise and her team were able to develop lesson plans and resources to embed ESD throughout the programme. More than 30 students so far have met the ESD learning outcome at Somerset College as part of their Cert Ed/PGCE course. They have identified ESD policies and actions taken within their own organisations, demonstrated their knowledge of the theories and principles of ESD, and researched the implications of sustainability within their own subject areas. This has enabled them to develop lesson plans and resources within each of their subject specialism's to introduce sustainability to their own students in the lifelong learning sector.

The 2009 Green Gown nomination builds on Somerset College's award winning green credentials. The Genesis Centre, the South West's sustainable construction centre based at the College, won the Green Gown award for sustainable construction last year. The short courses on sustainability were also short-listed. The College has won many other awards for environmental excellence including waste management and recycling since starting work in this area in 2002. The College is committed to the sustainability agenda through the College's Social Responsibility Strategy and works towards putting green action into everything that they do.

The award winners will be announced in June at a gala dinner in London with the leading lights of the green education world.

For more information about the Cert Ed/PGCE course at the College or new sustainability courses through Genesis call 01823 366331, or click here.