Questions that emerged after day 1
How do we collectively learn to tolerate uncertainty?
How do we open-source what is going on? How do we give away knowledge/experience?
How can we outreach and get beyond talking to ourselves?
How does a grass roots transition movement engage with universities institutions which are top down and where the top does not buy in?
What could universities look like in 30 years' time and how will we get there?
How can universities play a significant role in helping young people shape their lives?
If the current problem is a split between thought and feeling, how do we change that?
Is this a wholly anthropocentric discussion or is it one occurring within an ecologically diverse system?
How can local transition groups avoid losing sight of national and global problems?
I. General Themes
Can UK universities be transformed from within or should the transition movement concentrate on cultivating its own alternative educational models?
á The energy discussion would suggest that universities can contribute significantly to energy descent and could play an important role helping their communities to following their example and allowing them to benefit from their research.
á The curricula discussion suggested however that new educational alternatives need to be explored, especially in the light of the current funding situation.
á When it comes to food the answers are very ambiguous. Different universities would be very differently positioned to lead or lag on transforming aspects of food procurement and consumption.
á The community/university link has been and will be a challenge; the university tradition is that of non-localization, of international sharing and of movement of academics and students from place to place; the university population is thus one of many transients and outsiders. Alternative, localised, community based forms of education might not be and perhaps have no need to be universities. [One might draw lessons from the original inspiration of land grant universities in the US, and learn why they never fully lived up to their original ideals.]
What would we like universities to be doing that they are not doing now?
á Connect learning to action - informing societal change
á Create a context for doing things differently in their wider communities
á be centres for work
á prioritize solving problems of living
á encourage free thinking and exploration, not training
á be more efficient and effective and use the internet instead of travel
á be more localised and place based
á open up real options for students
á teach ethics and spirituality
á move from specialisms to holistic, long-term thinking
á overcome the split between rationalism and romanticism
á develop viable alternative educational models
How can they be made resilient? - Currently they not resilient even if they are sustainable and are vulnerable to a collapse of the Chinese economy
Obstacles to changing Universities from within:
á difficulty influencing uni status quo Ð hard to get high level buy in
á carbon accounting is challenging
á funding - harder to lobby for funds if the top does not buy in
á business/corporate model of a university
á lack of wide scale student drive for change
sub metering - building meters,
building management systems
sustainability monitors - drill down notice patterns of use
highlight carbon accounting challenges
Low hanging fruit
lighting - LEDs, induction bulbs, ....
computer switch off
Harder but possible
change old boilers
Harder but barriers
CHP, PV, Biomass
computer users - switch off
student switch off
Could they have their own tradable energy quotas?
Drivers for action:
green league table
senior management "buy-in"
Problems with current sourcing
á use of purchasing consortia leaves relatively little flexibility
á edible waste problem
á not enough choices or connection to the local economy, local food
á sourcing not transparent
á price concerns Ð students want cheap calories and that drives policy
What can be done?
á take fresh fruit and veg out of consortia
á focus on seasonal ingredients
á increase student awareness/cooking confidence
á raise student cooking skills Ð cookery competitions, classes, É.
á food co-ops for buying
á slow food on campus Ð use their network
á follow Bristol model - use supermarket waste food to provide cheap meals to students and others
á gardening/allotments for students
á more horticultural students Ð integrate production into education
á integrate into curricula, occupational therapy/ tourism and hotel management
á local farmers' market on campus regularly
á lobby student union to change procurement policy
á cost of organic/local/sustainable food
á lack of student awareness
á obstinacy and/or ignorance of upper uni management
á existing long term contracts with consortia
á determining carbon footprint of foods
Benefits of change
á allotments - awareness of sourcing - improve resilience, supply and knowledge
á health improvements
á selling point for top universities - reset the bar
á meet HEFC targets - link to curriculum and research
What kind of curriculum in needed?
á methods and approach need changing more than content
◦ problem based
◦ place based
◦ oriented toward wisdom
◦ oriented toward action
◦ recognizes multiple forms of knowledge
◦ involves group learning
◦ involves systems thinking
◦ develops capacity for independent learning
◦ involve students in design and delivery
◦ establishes communities of enquiry
Radical Overhaul may be necessary
á anxiety about jobs
á departmental attitudes
á academic professional attitudes/career ladders
How can we reach out to community?
How can the community reach into the university?
á business as usual
◦ regulated corporatized
◦ bringing in real-life initiatives
◦ engaging with locality, social history
◦ supporting radical "seeds for change" like Transition Heathrow with research, publicity, manpower