Manchester highly commended for 'green' education initiative

04 Apr 2008

An educational initiative, which will help the next generation of engineers and scientists to work together in more sustainable ways, has been recognised in prestigious national higher education awards.

Rosemary Tomkinson from The University of Manchester collecting the award
Rosemary Tomkinson from The University of Manchester collecting the award

The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) sponsored programme in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) was highly commended in the course category in the Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement (HEEPI) Green Gown Awards.

The project team – comprising Project Leader Rosemary Tomkinson, RAE Visiting Professor Charles Engel, Project Officer Helen Dobson and University Pedagogic Advisor Bland Tomkinson – has been recognised for pioneering a sustainable development unit for third year undergraduate students to encourage them to be agents for positive change.

The problem-based ‘Sustainable Development for Engineers and Scientists’ unit is elective and interdisciplinary, and its second intake includes 100 students from Schools across the Faculty. The scheme is facilitated by carefully selected and trained PDRAs (Post-Doctoral Research Associates), also from right across the EPS Faculty.

Students tackle ‘wicked problems’ that challenge them to build on their disciplinary backgrounds, together with ethical, societal, legal, economic and other considerations.

They are expected to share knowledge and ideas, research unfamiliar topics and think ‘outside the box’, as though they were professionals in the early years of work.

Though it has been developed in EPS, with the assistance of Manchester Science and Enterprise Centre (MSEC), the educational model relates to all disciplines and it is hoped that cross-faculty initiatives can be developed in the future.

The project team hopes to embrace an ever wider range of disciplines and to operate at other levels in the curriculum; at the moment a Masters-level course unit is being designed.

The Higher Education Environmental Performance Initiative (HEEPI) is run by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Notes for editors

For more information please contact:

Rosemary Tomkinson (The University of Manchester) 0161 306 4854

Anna Hiley (The University of Manchester) 0161 306 4258

Fiona Goodwin (HEEPI) - 01242 714321

Photographs of the award presentations are available from Fiona Goodwin.

The project team has compiled an extensive report for the Royal Academy of Engineering, who sponsored the pilot, and hopes to make it more widely available once approved by the project sponsors.

As a unique R&D project, the team has presented the RAEng with very detailed appendices to the report, which provide considerable food for thought for other institutions across the sector who wish to develop similar transformational courses.