The following is The Annual Report of the London RCE (Regional Centre of Expertise) on ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) http://www.londonrce.kk5.org/ presented by Ros Wade (Chair London RCE) at its inaugural AGM in London on 20 March 2013.
Report on the activities of the London Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) 2012/13
London is not only a dynamic and diverse metropolis but also a world city with many regional and global connections. London is one of the most diverse and culturally rich cities in the world. Over 300 languages are spoken and there are at least 50 non-indigenous communities of 10,000 people or more. Therefore, it has the potential to play a key role in the Global Learning Network on sustainable development.
The London RCE aims:
- To transform education for making London a more sustainable and inclusive place to live, work and play
- To provide a forum for empowering communities and making their voices heard
- To build on the diversity of London to help shape and influence global excellence in ESD
- To learn from the experience and knowledge of its partners in the Global Learning Network for working together for creating a more sustainable world
- To add value to London’s existing ESD networks and initiatives
According to UNESCO, ESD envisions ‘a world where everyone has the opportunity to benefit from quality education and learn the values, behaviour and lifestyles required for a sustainable future and for a positive societal transformation.’ Its overall aim is therefore to empower citizens to act for positive environmental and social change. This is no small challenge in London for, as UNESCO chair, Charles Hopkins, reminded us, ‘it is our most educated countries that are leaving the deepest ecological footprints and creating some of the greatest sustainability challenges.’
London RCE was given UN University accreditation in December 2009. The London RCE is co-ordinated by a steering group of key stakeholders and projects are developed and implemented by a number of working groups. The RCE works through its partners who are all playing an active role in achieving a more sustainable London. RCEs are an integral part of the UN University and were set up to achieve the aspirations of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2004-2015). There are now over 130 RCEs across the globe.
Higher Education ESD Curriculum Group (Contact: Ros Wade: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This so far comprises members from the following universities: London South Bank University (LSBU), University of East London (UEL), Kingston, Queen Mary’s and we are hoping to involve another four universities next year and also build linkages with further and tertiary education providers. Our main event of the last year was a Conference at LSBU on ‘Embedding ESD in the HE curriculum’ on 7TH March 2012. The key speaker was Professor Stephen Sterling of Plymouth University Sustainability Centre. An exhibition of posters was displayed showing examples of current ESD practice. Over 60 participants attended from a wide variety of disciplines such as engineering, design and technology, education, social science, business and health. The conference was made possible with support from Kerry Horvath (LSBU’s Energy and Environment Officer). Participants from HE support services also attended. Interdisciplinary workshops were held and a range of interesting ESD projects was shared. Discussions also started to develop on further interdisciplinary work.
In April 2013 a new book on ‘The Sustainable University’ (published by Taylor and Francis) will be launched at the University of Greenwich. Contributions include a chapter by Ros Wade on the potential of RCEs to be effective local and global communities of practice.
In February 2013, London RCE agreed to become a signatory to the People’s Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education.
RCE Sustainable Business Group (Contact: David Clemson: email@example.com )
David Clemson continues to take a lead in this and on 12th March 2013 a conference on Sustainable Business Practices and Responsible Management Education took place at LSBU. Key speakers included Dr Professor Clemens Mader from the University of Leuphana and RCE Graz, Vice-President of the COPERNICUS Alliance; Professor Daniella Tilbury, University of Gloucestershire, President of the COPERNICUS Alliance and RCE Severn. Over 70 participants from a wide variety of organisations attended and the conference was supported by the Higher Education Academy, UNPRME, COPERNICUS Alliance and London RCE. A new book with chapters about sustainable business practice was formally launched by Daniella Tilbury at this event. This also included a visit to CEREB (www.cereb.org.uk/)
London RCE has continued in its support and sponsorship of student involvement through initiatives such as the Sustainability Conferences and Crisis Management Simulations at LSBU. Imaginative and transdisciplinary themes emerge from this covering politics, biodiversity, energy, food, water, education and inequity rooted in discourses of global citizenship. Examples of this work feature in internationally recognised conferences and publications. Of paramount importance is the active interest that learners take in London RCE and outwards to the Global RCE movement, seeking out opportunities to participate in the global learning space offered by RCEs.
Going forward, there are a series of social enterprise projects – including film-making, art, poetry and music – that are underway which emphasise the connecting paths of transformative learning, participation, inclusivity, sustainability and global responsibility in shaping the future we want.
RCE Site based educators’ Group (Contact Ros Wade firstname.lastname@example.org)
This group of stakeholders from Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Field Studies Council, RSPB, London Wetlands Trust has developed and piloted a fully on line course in ESD for site based educators. This course is being launched next September 2013 and is accredited by LSBU.
RCE Teacher Education Group (Contact Sally Inman email@example.com)
Sally Inman and Sophie McKay have been leading the work of this group -, which is part of the UK Teacher Education Equity and Sustainability network (TEESnet – also a signatory of the People’s Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education). A regional seminar was held in 2012 for London teacher educators, with Professor Stephen Sterling as key speaker, and which was very well attended. The UK Teacher Education network (TEESnet) is co-ordinated by CCCI (www.lsbu.ac.uk/ccci).
RCE ‘communities’ Group (Contact Neil Herrington: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This group has been working with communities and ESD organisations around the Olympic Park and is led by Neil Herrington of University of East London. In 2012 a meeting was held at the View Tube in Stratford which brought together key participants to plan for post Olympic opportunities in relation to ESD. This event brought together organisations to help create added synergy and added value to their current work. A paper on this activity was presented to the Rio plus Summit 20 as part of UNESCO’s report on RCEs.
RCE ESD Reading Group (Contact Anna Portch: email@example.com)
Anna Portch of LEEF has developed this activity which is providing a stimulus for many educators and activists across London to develop their own understanding and to keep up to date with current and emerging debates and ideas around ESD. The group meets regularly, usually in a different local pub each time, and the social aspect is also a key element.
Political Science and ESD (Contact Hugh Atkinson: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The London RCE continues to develop the links between political science and ESD. In April 2012, Hugh Atkinson and Ros Wade of the London RCE steering group ran a panel at the annual conference of the UK Political Studies Association on Politics and Sustainability. Ros presented a paper on RCEs and learning communities of practice for ESD and Hugh a paper which focussed on the role of English local authorities in promoting learning to combat climate change. Ros and Hugh will be running another Politics and Sustainability panel at the March 2013 Political Studies Association annual conference.
Ros and Hugh are also co-editing a book The Challenge of Sustainability: linking politics, learning education. It will be published by Policy Press in October 2014.
The European Dimension
In June 2012, the London RCE met with 10 other European RCEs in Crete to launch the European RCE alliance (ERA). It acts as a broad network to share ideas and experiences and to support joint working and policy initiatives. It is a very positive development and is testament to the growing importance of ESD in Europe. The next meeting of the ERA will be in Kerkrade, Holland in May of this year. London RCE will be represented. You can find the web site at www.rce-era.eu
Communications (Contact Asitha Jayawardena email@example.com)
Asitha Jayawardena has continued to develop and administer our London RCE web site and a twitter button has now been added. Lynn Vickery continues to take the lead in co-ordinating RCE meetings and to act as the key link with the RCE Service Centre in UNU, Japan. The next International RCE meeting will be held in November in Nairobi, Kenya.
Branding (Contact Lynn Vickery firstname.lastname@example.org)
RCE stakeholders have the opportunity to apply for RCE and UNU branding for relevant projects. Lynn Vickery has taken the lead in developing this activity and this year a small number of projects have used the branding available via the LRCE to add to their events or tenders. We hope to expand this area of involvement with our members in the future.
The RCE has no external funding as such but membership of the RCE enables RCE stakeholders to lever funds for particular projects.
Partners and stakeholders
In addition to the university partners mentioned earlier, these include: London Sustainable Schools Forum, SEED, London Environment Education Forum (LEEF), London 21, Botanic Gardens Conservation international (BGCI), People and Planet, Conserve Africa.
The London RCE is a mobilising network and aims to be much more than the sum of its parts.
We actively welcome new partners to the London RCE. If you are interested please contact Lynn Vickery on email@example.com