Connecting and learning together for a better world: celebrating a decade of Learning for Sustainability Scotland at our 2023 AGM
This year’s annual gathering and AGM was an in-person celebration of the tenth year of Learning for Sustainability Scotland as Scotland’s UN University-recognised Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development.
On 11 January, we were joined by 60 members for an afternoon where we celebrated our members’ Learning for Sustainability stories, engaged in skill-sharing workshops, and explored how we can all take action and play our part in Scotland’s Target 2030 ‘Movement for Change’.
The afternoon began at 13:30 with refreshments and networking, before participants were welcomed by our Chair, Dr Rehema White – and invited to join in a game of human bingo! This icebreaker was followed by an update from our Director, Professor Pete Higgins, on the national and global context for Learning for Sustainability – as well as an overview of our activity over the past year from our Development Manager, Betsy King. Click here for our 2023 Annual Report.
We then invited participants to engage in a interactive reflection on a ‘Decade of Learning for Sustainability in Scotland’. This was very well-received; with members sharing their thoughts and ideas on the past ten years – and the next.
We were then delighted to welcome six members’ stories; which provided a reflection on the past decade from a variety of different perspectives. Evie Murray, from Earth in Common in Leith provided an overview of the way in which her organisation has enabled the local community to engage in LfS-related activity, and Jennifer Hutton, teacher at Dunblane Primary School in Stirlingshire shared the journey of her school towards a whole-setting approach to Learning for Sustainability. George Tarvit from the Sustainable Scotland Network provided a ‘public bodies’ perspective on sustainability, whilst Professor Greg Mannion from University of Stirling shared more about the way in which further and higher education institutions are increasingly weaving Learning for Sustainability across their everyday activities. Ian Menzies from Education Scotland provided input on the Scottish and international policy landscapes that influence Learning for Sustainability, and Rob Bushby from Awards Plus provided insights and ideas into a pan-sectoral approach to Learning for Sustainability.
Participants then went into small groups; where they discussed the concept of a ‘Movement for Change’. They looked at successes over the past decade, and barriers – which ones have we overcome? Which ones remain? What should we do next to support Scotland’s ‘Movement for Change’?
These conversations were then followed by the opportunity to join two of three skill-sharing workshops. Dr Jen Ross from the University of Edinburgh provided a thought-provoking insight into Artificial Intelligence and its implications for Learning for Sustainability; whilst Sara Smith from the Royal Highland Educational Trust led an inspiring session on Impact Assessment. Sophia Georgescu from the Children’s Parliament led a wonderful session on Meaningful engagement with young people and youth voice.
Participants then reconvened to join the final session for the day, which was led by Joe Janetta, Raphael Uddin, and Rosie Zisman: three inspiring senior students from Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh and their maths teacher, Tom Bird. Their input, called ‘Looking to the Future – the next decade and beyond‘, shared their vision of what school-based learning should look like to enable and support learners and educators to develop the skills, knowledge, values, and confidence needed for a sustainable future. They then took questions from the audience – and blew everyone away with their insightful and considered responses.
Despite this being an incredibly hard act to follow, our Chair then wrapped up this part of our tenth anniversary celebrations with her final remarks before concluding proceedings.
Participants were then invited to join the next part of our celebrations; which was an evening reception at the University of Edinburgh’s prestigious Playfair Library. This included a keynote address from the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth MSP and you can read a full account of this here.
Our warmest thanks goes once again to all those who made our AGM and Annual Gathering such a success. Particular thanks goes to all of our contributors and speakers; whose expertise provided our audience with such a wonderful range of insights and skills, but also to our members; whose ongoing support, passion, and creativity has contributed so much to the success of Learning for Sustainability Scotland over the past ten years.
Here’s to the next decade – and beyond!
Contributions from the day can be viewed below:
- Welcome and updates (Rehema White, Pete Higgins, Betsy King)
- Members’ Stories: Communities (Evie Murray); Schools and Early Learning and Childcare (Jennifer Hutton); Public Bodies (George Tarvit); Further and Higher Education (Greg Mannion); Pan-sector activity (Rob Bushby)
- Workshops: ‘Artificial Intelligence in Education: Ethics and Futures’ (Jen Ross); ‘Learning for Sustainability and Children’s Rights‘ (Sophia Georgescu)
- ‘A vision for Learning for Sustainability‘: (Joe Janetta, Raphael Uddin, Rosie Zisman, Boroughmuir High School)
- Final reflections (Rehema White)