A really enjoyable day in Plymouth, yesterday, at the first PedRIO conference where I chaired a session on sustainability and learning which explored a range of interconnected research topics carried out within the University.
Joanna Blake and Stephen Sterling talked about transformative learning using a study of Schumacher College's approaches to teaching and to visitor experiences, and considered the traction that such approaches might have in HE more formally.
Roger Cutting looked at a particular form of activitism, that of low impact communities in the UK, by means of participant narrative life histories and what this contributes to our (academic) understandings of learning and sustainability.
Bob Cook, with Roger, built on this to examine the experience that UG students had when they made brief (field) visits to such low impact communities. These experiences proved rich ones as they provided students with something of a mirror to their own ideas around sustainability.
Jennie Winter, Debby Cotton and Vivien Tucker reported a Plymouth student view on sustainability and transformation which used a critical incident approach to students' understanding of sustainability in order to explore how institutions might now develop a more transformative approach.
As with all good seminars, the themes were interconnected and well-presented, and we could have done with an extra 15 minutes (at least) to discuss issues arising across them all. All this was complemented by a witty and well-observed study of methodological challenges around data, it's collection, shaping and meaning, from Glynis Cousin who noted this from Bob Stake:
The purpose of research is not to map and conquer the world, but to sophisticate the beholding of it.