People and Planet League Table | Case Studies 21-30

Welsh Countryside

Case Studies - 1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-32  |  Quotes from UWTSD

Click on the case study title to find out more.

Tracy Thompson, a lecturer within of the School of Communication, has been considering how to incorporate sustainability into teaching and practice in the arts faculty.  Tracy is proposing to run a series of ‘debates’ exploring what sustainability means for them as artists and how they as artists can contribute to progress on sustainability in the University and as practising artists in the wider community. 

Tracy has asked members of A Sustainable Place CIC (a not-for-profit Community Interest Company specialising in action research into sustainability) to propose content for three events that would aim to:  

  • Contribute to student and faculty understanding of sustainability and how it practically relates to them as artists.
  • Challenge thinking by students and faculty staff, to help develop deeper understandings of sustainability.
  • Catalyse action by students and the faculty to incorporate sustainability more meaningfully in what they do; building on greater understanding of how art can contribute to progress towards sustainability.
  • Pilot teaching and learning approach(es) and materials around sustainability that could be used by other schools and courses across the University.

The series builds from a basic introduction to sustainability and the limits of a purely scientific approach, through consideration of vital roles that the arts can play, finally to guidance on how to apply these understandings in arts practice.

Session 1: Sustainability and Ways of Knowing
Or…why sustainability science is not enough.

Session 2: Navigating Complexity and Chaos using Fuzzy Logic
Or…why the arts are vital to sustainability practice.

Session 3: Sustainability and Arts Practice
Or…how the arts can help make sustainable places and societies

Tracy Thompson, Faculty of Art and Design

The Phoenix Centre, Swansea

This project takes an innovative approach to tackling poverty for community regeneration through devolved power to the grassroots level to enhance sustainability For example the centre has overseen £6.3m invested into Townhill, a community of 3800 households and 9000 people.

Links with the University

‘Education’ has been consistently promoted as a legitimate area of interest for non-traditional families and widening participation is actively encouraged.

Students from the university can undertake projects for HND and Degrees involving the centre and the service it provides local people. Performance Arts students participate in the annual community spirit day with the Olion Festival.

Centre staff have been invited into the Swansea Business School to tutor classes.

Will Fleming, Faculty of Business and Management

The National Assembly for Wales is currently considering legislation to put sustainable development at the heart of public sector planning in Wales. The Swansea Business School along with the professional bodies in Wales organised a conference for professional staff in the Welsh public bodies to discuss the operational implications of the Welsh Government’s initiative of the Well-Being of Future Generations Bill. Speakers included the Future Generations Commissioner, UWTSD Inspire, Welsh Audit Office, Cynnal Cymru, the City & County of Swansea and the Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

The plenary session identified key issues for implementation and a memorandum was produced and delivered to the Commissioner as a response to the Welsh Government’s consultation on the proposed legislation. Further, an agenda has been created for the future to facilitate professional bodies’ engagement with the sustainability agenda.                                                                                                     

Will Fleming, Faculty of Business and Management

Kitesurf BoardDuring the manufacture of the kitesurf boards for our recent attempt at the Bristol channel kitesurf crossing, a significant amount of breather fabric was used.

In the production of the carbon fibre kitesurf boards we had to put the boards into the autoclave 3 times - once to cure the carbon fibre on the top layer, once to cure the carbon fibre on the bottom layer, and once to set the glue on the bamboo veneer.

Each time that this was done the board had to be wrapped in breather fabric to ensure that an even vacuum was applied all over the board in the curing process.  As such we used significant amounts of the breather fabric.  Once this fabric has been used it is typically thrown away.  Instead, we took this fabric and sewed some board bags together to store the finished boards in.

Mike Cullis, Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering

Most practitioners involved in fieldwork are of the firm belief that it is a ‘good thing’. Staff at the School of Architecture, Built and Natural Environments hold the conviction that students on the BSc and MSc Environmental Conservation learn better in the field rather than in the classroom; that fieldwork offers the best means for students to grasp the fundamental concepts associated with environmental disciplines and that it is essential to acquiring the generic and subject-specific skills that will equip them for future employment.

The overriding view, is that fieldwork is a vital component of learning offering a ‘hands on’ approach to studying environmental sciences, in essence a sustainable approach to teaching and learning.

Mike Cullis, Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering

Students in riverFor the last couple of centuries, the Welsh Industrial Landscape has been dominated by coal mining. Deep underground coal seams have been mined to power what was to become known as The Industrial Revolution. As this cycle of industrial activity closes, this generation has to face the aftermath of landscape dereliction and associated environmental impact.

Students from both the BSc and MSc Environmental Conservation at the School of Architecture, Built and Natural Environments, for the last six years, have been conducting sustainability research on Land Reclamation, a cradle for nature approach. Industrial wastes in the form of coal spoils dominate parts of the Welsh countryside.

These spoils will eventually be re-colonised by nature. Our research efforts are focused on helping nature speed up this process. Varteg Hill (Blaenavon) is the chosen site where a series of trials have been conducted in order to determine various tree species’ ability to tolerate high levels of pollutants.

Mike Cullis, Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering

A group of students from UWTSD Swansea were given a lesson in urban regeneration when they paid a visit to Coastal Housing Group’s newest development - Castle Quarter.

As work commenced on site, two groups of students from the School of Architecture, Built and Natural Environments took part in the field trip. Students from the HNC, HND Building Studies and BSc Project and Construction Management programmes were given a real life insight into the £8 million land regeneration scheme to aid them in their studies so that they can apply practical, sustainable experience to their relevant courses; a sustainable way of resource use.

More than 16 students took part in the field trip, as Coastal seeks to increase its relationship with the University as part of its commitment to improve the communities in which it works.

Mike Cullis, Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering

The Environment Society was founded in 2011 by a group of Environmental Conservation students wanting to gain practical volunteering experience in the field, and has gone from strength to strength. Their work, while primarily environmental, has a strong community focus, with regular collaborations with organisations such as Kilvey Community Woodland Volunteers (KCWV), St Madoc’s Centre, the City and County of Swansea and others.

They have a regular annual event with KCWV in December in which they help members of the local community climb the hill and thin out the young conifer trees growing there. This has two effects: firstly, the clearance allows broadleaf trees to grow through, with the hope that the hill will eventually be restored to oak woodland; and secondly, the local community get to explore their environment and take home a free Christmas tree.

Despite only being in its fourth year, the Society has already won the Students Union Society of the Year Award twice, most recently in summer 2014 after racking up a total of 308 volunteering hours across the year.

Mike Cullis, Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering

Getting an education is not just about being classroom–bound, a philosophy practised at UWTSD Swansea. Students studying for Environmental Conservation degrees regularly undertake practical fieldwork events as part of their degree and Masters programmes.  This not only provides the student with ‘sustainability related’ employable skills but also has huge benefits to the wider community, particularly the conservation sector which strongly relies upon volunteer engagement.

According to the Programme Director, Dr Rhian Jenkins: “we have an enviable employment record of our past graduates”….”the development of practical skills such as hedge laying and species’ identification is vital to that end”.

Our students are often juggling their studies with part-time employment and as such building volunteering and practical opportunities into our curriculum is extremely important and is beginning to pay dividends. “We recognise that employability is a key factor when attracting future students and as such we have to adapt and develop our Programmes accordingly”.

Mike Cullis, Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering

Recently two groups of students from the School of Architecture, Built and Natural Environments attempted a final year Project to create a Hydro-electric Installation for a fictional company Hydropower Wales Ltd. The group was engaged to manage the design and construction of a small-scale hydro electrical generation plant within a 20 mile radius of Swansea.

Task 1 was to prepare a schematic design for a hydro generation plant having identified the nature of the geographic form required for small scale hydro-electric schemes. The students had to identify three separate sites on a suitable watercourse on which to construct the hydroelectric scheme. The location needed be somewhere accessible where an assessment of the water flow and hydrostatic head could be made.

Task 2 and 3 required Group members to adopt the roles of Designer, Construction Manager and Commercial Manager. The Designer was asked to prepare a series of drawings to illustrate the team’s proposed installation of the hydro generation plant and to identify key components of the installation and its capacity. Students reviewed the legislative restrictions influencing the design and construction of the installation, which included developing an outline specification of the materials to be used for the construction of the installation. This design was further developed by the preparation of a section through the barrage showing the connection to the river bed and a section through the abutment of the barrage and river bank.

The construction manager’s role was to prepare an outline method statement for the construction of the plant identifying the construction method and an outline construction programme for the works ensuring key timescales and milestones in the project were met.

The commercial manager was to prepare a budget estimate for the installation identifying appropriate costs centres. Having produced the estimate the commercial manager was to carry out an economic review of the installation to determine the likely profitability of the project given the current level of feed-in tariff for a small-scale hydroelectric installation within the UK. This had to be completed while considering any possible impacts on the environment – sustainability had to be compared to current construction strategy.

Finally the commercial manager had to review the cost per kW against published costs for other forms of renewable energy, again, considering the long term effect of such a project.

Mike Cullis, Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering