Fashion Education in a time of climate emergency
Fashion education in 2021 must equip learners with the skills, knowledge and capabilities that can challenge exploitative practices in fashion, whilst preparing them for careers that sustain their livelihoods.
To ensure representative and diverse learning for sustainability it is important that all involved in the fashion education system actively engage in collaboration and participatory learning with a range of partners. We must enable co-learning and the development of experiential and critical approaches to decolonisation and decarbonisation in and through fashion education.
“Knowledge and learning are humanity’s greatest renewable resources for responding to challenges and inventing alternatives. Yet, education does more than respond to a changing world. Education transforms the world.” – UNESCO Futures of Education Initiative
As educators we have a role to play in contributing to a more positive future, having collectively shifted our ways of working over the last year. Nina Stevenson, Education for Sustainability Leader at Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) notes that “the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how rapidly we as humans can adapt our behaviour to ensure that health and wellbeing are prioritised. Now we must ensure our education system continues to foreground human and planetary health through resilient, inclusive and restorative practices.”
We work toward challenging the fashion status quo at CSF and believe through open-access education and lifelong learning initiatives, we can encourage both the industry and next generation of fashion industry professionals to work in more sustainable ways. In our recently published Education for Sustainability Transformation (EST) – Progress Report 2021, we gather the evidence drawn from activities that have taken, are taking place, or are in preparation across London College of Fashion and at CSF towards teaching and learning that is based on principles of ecological and social equity.
Sustainable Fashion Open-Access Courses
Fashion Values: Nature
Fashion Values: Nature is CSF’s latest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), launched in April 2021, and has created a network of over 3,600 learners to date. The 4-week online course offers learners perspectives and expertise from a range of experts worldwide, exploring biodiversity in the context of fashion and creating a plan for fashion that protects Earth’s ecosystems. Online education ventures enable CSF to offer free to access lifelong learning on a global scale, as well as serving as standalone or complementary content for LCF courses.
“We are in a defining moment for earth’s planetary boundaries. Bending the curve on biodiversity loss will not happen overnight, and in order to move towards long-lasting solutions, we need to meaningfully engage the next generation of fashion leaders about the linkages between biodiversity and the fashion industry.” – Dr. Katrina Ole-MoiYoi, sustainability expert and consultant at Kering.
Fashion and Sustainability
Fashion and Sustainability: Understanding Luxury Fashion in a Changing World was launched in 2018, in collaboration with luxury fashion group Kering. The 6-week online course allows learners to explore sustainability and luxury fashion. It received a prestigious Green Gown award in 2018 in the Next Generation Learning and Skills category. This course continues to engage and provide a network for learners worldwide, connecting over 80,000 global learners to date.
Resources for tutors
Supporting those designing teaching and learning for fashion is of great importance to CSF. Developed through a European network of fashion practitioners, researchers and tutors, FashionSEEDS offers a set of tools and resources to help us consider what to teach, how to teach, and how far we can change or transform our teaching through the discipline of Fashion Design for Sustainability.
Our contribution to Student Experience at UAL, and beyond
CSF’s academic publications include the most cited research in fashion and sustainability, and exhibitions visited by large and diverse audiences around the world. Our online courses reach learners around the world, and our direct teaching takes place at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD levels. Our teaching dovetails industry changing initiatives through partnerships in world-leading fashion houses and fashion publishers, as well as longstanding research and support with micro and small designers and their businesses. CSF supports a burgeoning PhD community and post-doctoral researchers, funded through projects and sponsorships, that imbue the centre’s work with diverse perspectives. We have a close relationship with a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at LCF, with a strong commitment to MA Fashion Futures. An ongoing schedule of monthly open mornings offers an equitable way for all students to engage with the team of experts.