Theory, policy and practice perspectives from Royal Holloway

Excellent sustainability teaching in the School of Management recognised in Teaching Awards

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CRIS teaching team

Katharina Husemann, Anica Zeyen, Sigrun Wagner, Stephanos Anastasiadis & Diego Vazquez-Brust

Six members of the Centre for Research into Sustainability (CRIS) at Royal Holloway, University of London, who are responsible for much of the sustainability-related teaching in the School of Management have won all three college excellence in teaching prizes awarded to staff in the School in 2016. This confirms the commitment of CRIS to maintain high quality, innovative sustainability teaching, and mirrors the School’s long-standing commitment as a signatory to PRME, the United National Principles for Responsible Management Education.

The Committee responsible for awarding the prizes considered a “very strong field of applications” which marks these prizes as particularly significant.

The two individual excellence awards went to Dr Katharina Husemann and Dr Anica Zeyen whereas the team award went to Dr Stephanos Anastasiadis, Prof Laura Spence, Dr Diego Vázquez-Brust and Dr Sigrun M. Wagner. The prizes award teaching across all levels, postgraduate and, mostly, undergraduate teaching. The courses in which these colleagues teach cut across several pathways of the BSc management programmes – marketing, entrepreneurship and sustainability – and also include courses mandatory for all students, thus demonstrating how sustainability cuts across disciplines outside its sometimes perceived niche.

The prizes were awarded for a range of innovative practices, from Pecha Kucha to transformative learning to game-playing, all of which focus on improving student learning.

Dr Anica Zeyen, a Lecturer in Strategy and Sustainability, and Royal Holloway’s PRME Representative, won the college excellence in teaching prize for her work in a third year course to bring in innovative approaches. Her initiative, Teaching responsible change through experiential and transformative learning – combining theory with practice: Responsible Entrepreneurship was particularly lauded for the experiential learning and sensory teaching approaches she uses. She has for example used brain writing and brain walking – more tangible forms of brain storming that allow more inclusive teaching – as well as Lego® and narrative story-telling to engage students in a ‘presentational way of knowing’. In using transformative teaching, she puts responsible entrepreneurship in a bigger context that allows students to understand the role (responsible) entrepreneurs play in society.

Dr Katharina Husemann, who is a Lecturer in Marketing was awarded the college excellence in teaching prize for her initiative “Pecha What?” Exploring Pecha Kucha as Formative Assessment. The committee awarding the prize particularly liked the attention Katharina paid to formative assessment and skills development transferable to other contexts. Pecha Kucha is a highly visual and fast paced presentation format where presenters have to follow a ’20-20’ rule of 20 slides which each are timed to 20 seconds. The format works on different levels, for both audio and visual learners and increases student engagement. For Katharina’s third year course Global Marketing, students had to give such presentations and use the feedback formatively for their written group reports.

The team excellence in teaching prize was awarded for the initiative Serious(ly) fun – the use of games and simulations in teaching sustainability. The team of four, Dr Stephanos Anastasiadis, Lecturer in Sustainability, Prof Laura Spence, Professor of Business Ethics, Dr Diego Vázquez-Brust, Senior Lecturer in Strategy and International Business, and Dr Sigrun M. Wagner, Senior Lecturer in International Business and Sustainability, have used ludic tools in their sustainability teaching. The committee particularly liked the strong example of collaboration to develop a teaching ethos that promotes engagement and deep/reflective learning. The serious fun of games and simulations stimulates understanding in terms of both logos and pathos that may be lost in more traditional teaching patterns. In sustainability, particularly, practitioners are faced with complex choices and uncertain outcomes, and must act on limited information. Scenarios that encourage higher-order problem-solving skills are therefore especially valuable, and such scenarios can be particularly well-replicated in games and simulations, with the opportunity for reflective practice and discussions. The team members have used games and simulations in five different courses, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, including the first year course Economic and Social Foundations of Sustainable Organisations, which most management students take and which all members were instrumental in developing and teaching. The teaching prize reflects several years’ worth of teamwork, in particular in the context of CRIS, which has provided an ongoing forum for exchange on research, teaching and research impact for all its members.

Sigrun Wagner

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