Research in global and sustainable education

The Department’s research on sustainable development creates knowledge and influences practices to shape sustainable futures.

The strand members’ research incorporates sustainable development questions about diverse local, national and global contexts. For example: how can society approach responsible and ethical consumption; why are there inequalities in global education; what approaches can counter sexual violence?

UWE Bristol recognises the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The core purpose of this research strand is advancing knowledge in three dimensions (the economic, social and environmental), inspiring people and transforming futures as set out in the UWE Bristol Strategy 2020.

Strand conveners

The research expertise of the strand covers a range of research areas including, but not limited to:

  • Sustainable futures
  • Science education
  • Food production and consumption in schools
  • Anti-sexual violence on campus
  • Responsible and ethical production and consumption
  • Global educational practices.

Our staff have experience in examining and supervising research students in the area of global and sustainable education. We welcome new postgraduate research students to conduct research with us.

Research projects

Inclusive Campus #SpeakUp @ UWE Bristol anti-sexual violence social norms campaign

This 18 month inter-disciplinary academic project (April 2017 to October 2018) comprises two projects:

Project 1: Bystander initiative evaluation and development

Methods: Evaluate Bystander through pre/post questionnaires to 86 students followed by focus groups with 15 students.

Aim: Produce modified Bystander initiative training programme materials and academic papers.

Project 2: Bystander social norms campaign

Methods: Work collaboratively with staff and students to embed the outputs from Project 1 evaluation into a university social norms campaign.

Aim: Develop pro-social norms refined from Project 1 evaluation and ensure these are embedded in the University's #SpeakUp marketing campaign to be launched from September 2018. The pro-social norms would be evident in the elements of the campaign including an animated film, posters and webpages.

HEFCE Catalyst Funding: £50,000

The project team comprises:

UWE Bristol staff

and external experts

  • Lisa Benjamin, Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS)
  • Rueben Chatterjee, Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI)
  • Charlotte Gage (Bristol Zero Tolerance).

Project contacts: Dr Helen Bovill with Dr Richard Waller and Professor Kieran McCartan
Funder: Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)

Imagining the future after Brexit: Academics tell their stories

A collaborative project with Dr Mark Murphy (University of Glasgow), Dr Rille Raaper (University of Durham); Dr Jenna Condie (Western Sydney University) and Dr Cristina Costa (UWE Bristol).

Project duration: 4 June 2018 to 3 June 2019

Project contact: Dr Cristina Costa

Exploring children and parents’ changing perceptions of entomophagy (or, how do we get kids to eat insects)

The aim of this initial project is to:

  • identify the key mechanisms which impact on children’s food choices when faced with new novel foods in order to plan for sustainable futures
  • design and review pedagogical strategies and tools to develop a healthier, more sustainable future population through teaching and learning in the primary and secondary school context.

In 2016, the UK government launched their first Childhood Obesity Plan in order to combat the growing numbers of overweight and obese young people. In 2017, the Government noted that sustainable change will only be achieved through the active engagement of schools, communities and families (UK Government 2017). Meanwhile, there has been recurring calls for us to reconsider what we eat with concerns about the environmental impact of beef and other meat production. Insects have been considered a possible alternative.

In light of this, Bug Farm Foods have proposed that a shift to the use of insect based proteins in school meals, coupled with targeted learning in schools may offer a positive, long term outcome to achieve these goals. This research aims to evaluate this programme and consider the future for entomophagy in UK schools.

Project contact: Dr Verity Jones
Funder: Welsh Assembly Government

Approaches to filling the STEM gap in Wales

The gap between number of students taking science and the need for STEM employees is growing. Working with a family of schools in Pembrokeshire, this four year project looks at how a long term commitment to STEM by public, private and charity sectors might be used as a future model; one which will enable both pupils and teachers to grow in confidence, skills, understanding and enjoyment of STEM.

Project contact: Dr Verity Jones
Funder: Dragon LNG and Pembrokeshire County Council

Approaches to sustainable food development in schools

Project contact: Dr Verity Jones
Funder: SBRI and Innovative UK

Using MOOCs for social change

The Who Made My Clothes? Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) has been running for the last two years. In the three week periods that it runs each summer, over 16,000 people have taken part. Supported by Exeter University and international charity Fashion Revolution, this free course aims to inspire and enable people to take a closer look at the supply chains involved with their clothes and consider ways they can actively support garment workers around the world. The research looks at how the MOOC does this and the impact it has on learners understandings and practices.

Project duration: Three years

Project contact: Dr Verity Jones
Funder: University of Exeter and in collaboration with Fashion Revolution

Project Zulu

Project Zulu is a charitable educational development initiative run by UWE Bristol in support of schools in and around Madadeni township in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. The University currently works in partnership with ten schools in the region, running a range of educational projects including teaching and learning, ICT development, physical infrastructure and sports coaching.

Projects involve UWE Bristol student volunteers and academic staff working jointly with pupils, teachers and school leaders to improve facilities, share innovative practice and develop resources and strategies to improve educational opportunities. Project Zulu also facilitates a biennial UK fundraising tour for children’s choirs from these partner schools.

The research arm of Project Zulu aims to evaluate the impact of these initiatives, eliciting the views of all stakeholders, including those of the local education department. Researching with partners on the ground in Madadeni, we evaluate the strengths and weaknesses, benefits and drawbacks for UK and South African partners in order to develop the quality and usefulness of the projects.

Examples of this include, the impact of teacher CPD workshops run by UWE Bristol's Department of Education academics, the impact of an ICT intervention led by UWE Bristol's Computer Science academics and students, and the overall impact of the Project Zulu initiative on partner schools. Research enquiries are co-led and co-authored with partners on the ground in South Africa.

Project contact: Ben Knight
Funder: Global Centre, UWE Bristol


For further information about the strand, please contact any members above by following their staff profile links.

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