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Sustainable Futures online course wins national Green Gown award

Caboteers Eleni Michalopoulou and Chris Preist collect their award.

Press release issued: 27 November 2019

The University of Bristol’s Sustainable Futures open online course has won this year’s Green Gown Award in the Next Generation Learning and Skills category.

The UK and Ireland Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK and Ireland. They are administered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges.

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bristol, said that “As a signatory of the SDG Accord, the University of Bristol is committed to embedding sustainability in the educational experience of our students in innovative ways. The Sustainable Futures Open Online Course is a fantastic example of this, and we are proud it has been recognised in this way.”

The Sustainable Futures course, one of three developed as part of the Bristol Futures initiative, is offered freely to Bristol students and other learners around the world three times a year. It has been taken by over 8000 people, including around 2000 students at the University. It was developed by Cabot Institute members Professor Chris Priest, Eleni Michalopoulou and Dr Ash Tierney, with support from the Digital Education Office and the Bristol Futures program.

It uses video case studies of people making a difference in diverse ways - including homelessness and housing, microplastics and the circular economy, food waste and sewage to energy. It uses honest and open interviews with video contributors regarding the challenges they have faced and the way they work with others to avoid the ‘lone hero’ narrative. It also encourages personal reflection by the participants about the roles they can take and the challenges they face.

The online discussions have been extensively used and create a highly supportive environment. Feedback from participants shows that the course has motivated many to change their behaviour, to engage more in communities and volunteer, to consider sustainability related career paths, and to take more care of their own wellbeing.

The Green Gown judges noted that ‘comments from the participants are extremely powerful, highlighting the impact this has had on them personally and professionally to actively progress sustainability.’ 

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