Case Study:

Education for Sustainability Transformation

London College of Fashion’s Education for Sustainability Transformation (EST) Strategy (2016-2022) supports the development and integration of sustainability in the curriculum across all courses and levels at the college. 

London College of Fashion students in a classroom working collaboratively

“Education is the leverage point for change in societies, cultures and economies – and radical individual and systemic change is needed now more than ever.” 

Nina Stevenson, Education for Sustainability Leader

Education for Sustainability Transformation in Fashion requires long-term commitment to a transformational and evolutionary process of change that can take place inside and outside of formal teaching and learning, the university buildings, and disciplinary borders. This process involves a range of scales, methods and locations where ideas can seed and grow. It involves the imagining and conceiving of cultural, nature-based, societal and economic prosperity, that requires critical and reflexive thinking and practice. LCF students and tutors have the opportunity and imperative to creatively explore the role of fashion; its artistic, culture-shaping and business practices in the context of the climate emergency and social inequality.

The EST Strategy takes a systems thinking approach; the purpose of education being to cultivate a sustainability worldview, a holistic phenomenon that involves a combination of values, knowledge, dispositions and agency so that learners see and interact with the world through the lens of sustainability (Nolet 2016). With this in mind, it is essential that, as an institution and as educators, we are equipped with the skills and development opportunities to not only teach about sustainability but to explore learning design and pedagogies that nurture the skills, attitudes and mindsets that can unlock sustainable visions and practices in students, and ultimately in citizens. An increasingly complex world demands these competencies of its citizens, therefore education must reflect this.  

 

The EST Strategy is aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as to the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), a United Nations-supported initiative founded in 2007 as a platform to raise the profile of sustainability in schools around the world, and to equip today’s business students with the understanding and ability to deliver change tomorrow.  

Our work so far has come in many shapes and forms – which includes (but is not limited to): 

  • Through the Better Lives Unit, every first year undergraduate student at LCF explores the foundational themes of sustainability, social responsibility and diversity, and applies them to the context of their subject specialism. During 2018/19, 1,826 first year undergraduate students and 58 members of staff have engaged in this unit. 

  • UAL’s first ever MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in Fashion & Sustainability, developed by CSF with the support of Kering, has created a network of global sustainability changemakers with c.60,000 learners from 191 countries since 2018. 

  • By 2021, a platform of co-created knowledge, tools and resources to support fashion educators to practice Fashion Design for Sustainability will be available through the Erasmus+ funded FashionSEEDS, a European network of fashion universities coordinated by CSF. Tutors from BA Womenswear have been testing some of the tools and ideas emerging from the project, and took part in a 3 day workshop at Design School Kolding. 

As a community of art and design students, tutors, researchers, administrators, technicians and senior leaders at LCF and UAL, we have an unprecedented imperative, opportunity and duty of care to shape a new era of interdependence. 

 

LCF’s role as educators in fashion is a vital one in creating conditions for creatively challenging students and tutors and to contribute to restorative personal and professional practices in fashion. 

 

Through the Education for Sustainability Transformation Strategy, CSF is providing a range of staff development opportunities across the three schools to support evolutionary and transformatory approaches in fashion education. Each of LCF’s three schools have identified a sustainability lead academic, the School of Design Technology having appointed a full-time Lecturer in Fashion and Sustainability. CSF is linking education to research through pioneering theory-and practice-based enquiry that challenges the role of fashion in relation to economy, nature, culture and society. 

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