We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. Read More Allow Cookies

Project Lead:

Deirdre Ryan (deirdre.ryan@mtu.ie)

Project Status

In Progress

Project Lead Home Department:

MTU Cork - Building and Civil Engineering - Architecture

Alignment to HEA and NFETLHE SATLE 2022-23 Themes

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD);

Alignment to MTU Strategy Themes

Learner Education & Experience;

Project Description

The aim of this proposal is through engagement with UNSDGs to create a vehicle for authentic and meaningful experiences within the Department of Architecture and potentially within the School of Building & Civil Engineering. These experiences will deliver multiple objectives:

  • To educate students and staff on UNSDGs and to consider how they can engage with them in both a personal and professional capacity.
  • To build literacy in sustainable development across the department and investigate methods to embed UNSDGs in programmes.
  • To initiate dialogue and improve communication between staff and students to enable the student voice and improve interaction in course board meetings (in the programmes of Architectural Technology and Interior Architecture) to drive their direction.
  • To enrich the physical environment on campus through the process of making and undertaking activities to improve biodiversity, health and well-being.
  • To transform people and the local environment for the benefit of the biosphere.

It is important that this project exists outside the constraints of modules and the academic calendar and that it is not linked to assessment to allow for inclusion, honest dialogue and informal learning. The intention is to design exciting, varied, and interesting activities related to UNSDGs for interested students and staff who will meet monthly (at lunchtime) and undertake a particular task. Several of the UNSDGs will be explored and the group will investigate ways to address these within the physical limitations of the campus and their home environments. An example of this would be UNSDG no. 14 Life below Water where plastic waste would be investigated by focusing on the pervasive and destructive nature of plastics on aquatic life and the possibilities of reducing its use. Participants would make products that could replace commonly used plastic-based products for food, drinks, cleaning, make-up removal etc. UNSDG no. 15 Life on Land could be addressed by promoting biodiversity. Planting for pollinators, creating wildlife corridors, the building of bird boxes and insect hotels and growing plants for food would be undertaken.

The informal nature of the gatherings will hopefully lead to trust and meaningful dialogue between staff and students who will bond over shared values and a common interest in sustainability. External expert engagement will be a vital component with speakers invited to address, educate and inspire the group. The intention is to welcome Cork City Council’s Biodiversity Officer, IGBC/Irish Green Building Council (the department is a member of the organisation), and the environmental scientist Dr. Tara Shine (a former advisor to Mary Robinson and whose book How to Save your Planet, One Object at a Time will be one of the formative references). Engagement with the Green Campus team and other student bodies focused on sustainability is also proposed.

What is the anticipated impact of this project?

The intention is to create authentic and meaningful experiences beyond module assessment and the rigors of the academic calendar. In informal settings, students and staff will participate in creative activities related to the UNSDGs. Students and staff will be positively impacted as both parties will benefit as knowledge, understanding and literacy in sustainable development grows. Trust between teachers and learners, developed through shared experiences and conversations, will hopefully lead to a confident and active student voice and more engagement in course board meetings and curriculum design. The proposal is to foster knowledge, understanding and skill in the area and ultimately embed learning about sustainable development within and across the curriculum. The redesign of an existing module or the suite of modules related to sustainable development is envisaged.

The number of staff and students directly impacted through the lunchtime workshops may be small (circa 5 and 25 respectively) however there is great potential for this to gain momentum and for numbers to increase as it develops. The impact of the dialogue and engagement generated from the project is envisaged to be much greater and all students (c. 200) within the department in any given year will likely benefit. The project could be viewed as a pilot for the school or faculty as a means of delivering ESD.

What will the outputs of this project be?

The outputs are greater dialogue between students and staff leading to greater literacy in the area of sustainable development, improved engagement leading to greater interaction in course board meetings and on curriculum development and ultimately a better educated and empowered community of learners who can drive change.

Potentially the outputs can be disseminated through a number of means such as learning communities and internal research groups within MTU (SIRIG), as well as national and international conferences and publications. The Resilient Design Curricula project in architectural education, funded by HEA, is a forum for potential dissemination of this work. Members of the department are affiliated with RIAI (Royal Institute of Architects), IATEF (Irish Architectural Technologists Educators Forum) and CIAT (Charter Institute of Architectural Technologists) and calls for papers at their annual conferences are an opportunity to disseminate this work.

Let's get social