DSC’s Green Haul: Sustainability Fellowships and Innovation Projects

Great news. Indeed green news. Of the five awarded Learning and Teaching for Sustainability (LTfS) Teaching Fellowships and Innovation Projects, four were awarded to staff in the College of Design and Social Context! Dr Yoko Akama (School of Media and Communications), Dr Olivia Guntarik (School of Media and Communications) and Ms Mette Stryhn (School of Architecture and Design) were awarded LTfS Teaching Fellowships, while Dr Judy Rogers (School of Architecture and Design) was awarded LTfS Innovation Project funding. This is a terrific result and follows on from similar successes for DSC last year (see below).

Funded by RMIT’s Sustainability Committee and administered through the Office Dean Learning and Teaching, these awards aim to produce strategic, high-quality curriculum resources and learning activities applicable to Learning and Teaching for Sustainability, both within the University and across the global tertiary sector

The successful DSC recipients of LTfS 2015 Teaching Fellowships are:

Dr Yoko Akama (School of Media and Communications/DSC)                           Project title:  Designing Re-Connectedness: Application and Exploration of a Sustainability Framework in Design Education

Dr Olivia Guntarik (School of Media and Communications/DSC)                     Project title:  Place Narratives: Strengthening Students’ Environmental Literacies Through Indigenous Art Education

Ms Mette Stryhn (School of Architecture and Design/DSC)                               Project title:  Open Boundaries

The successful DSC recipient of LTfS 2015 Innovation Project funding is:

Dr Judy Rogers (School of Architecture and Design/DSC)                                   Project title: Education for Sustainability: Building Spaces for Interdisciplinary Dialogue

Congratulations to all and we look forward to hearing how the year unfolds!

Dr Yoko Akama was also the recipient of an LTfS Teaching Fellowship in 2014, along with Dr James Wong (School of Property Construction & Project Management). You can read more from Yoko and James on how their 2014 fellowships are progressing at http://teachingtomtom.com/2014/11/25/rmit-learning-teaching-for-sustainability-teaching-fellowships-a-celebration-and-tips-for-applicants/

ASQA renewal

A message to all staff from the VC Martin Bean on 29th April 2015 informed us that the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has renewed RMIT University’s registration as a Registered Training Organisation for a seven-year period, through to 30 June 2022. ‘This is a very positive outcome for RMIT and demonstrates the University’s strong track record as a high-quality provider of Vocational Education programs,’ he said.

The DSC College Executive would like to recognise and applaud the level of engagement in all schools over the last few months, with strong leadership by all Deputy Deans/Heads, VE. As DPVC Andrea Chester wrote: “This work will not be wasted and this outcome allows us to scope the work now with appropriate time frames and continue to work steadily across the board.”

After Graduation: is a university responsible for student employability?

Employability. It’s on every Australian university’s agenda now. My experience in the UK has shown how rapidly this moves up the agenda when any country starts to hit rocky economic times.

Curtin University recently won an OLT Project on graduate employability. It aimed to increase understanding of critical issues in enhancing graduate employability and identify support for educators seeking to develop student employability.

The research confirmed that higher education students wanted support in order to identify and develop the skills needed to navigate post-graduation pathways and that they perceived that the lack of these skills was one of the most critical disadvantages they encountered when transitioning into work. This sounds familiar to me.

The OLT project invited some experts to comment on what they’d discovered. Associate Professor Andrea Chester (Deputy PVC, Learning and Teaching, DSC) and I were approached and asked to respond to stimulus posed by Curtin such as: should higher education institutions develop employability? How does the employability debate relate to policy? If the sector were to advocate that it should not develop employability, how could it defend this position?

I was also asked to comment on my experience in the UK, where the connections between the university as the driver of economic regeneration and industry engagement is prominent and where the concept of university ‘after sales’ (the benefits a student can expect from their university in terms of employment after graduation) is alive and well, though the path never a straightforward one.

In Australia, the national WIL (Work Integrated Learning) scheme is a big step forward, demonstrating that we are starting to ask the right sort of questions: what can we do with universities in terms of knowledge economy, to inspire students, to train students and to keep talent local? RMIT is well placed to make this work for our graduates.

As Andrea says, ‘we need a clear message across the sector, and in each institution, around employability and for that to be driven in a very clear and decisive way’. Ideally we’re looking to create a ‘virtual circle’ where students feel that they have bought into the University in the first instance, that they’re looked after when they graduate, and then they put something back in once they become employers – not easy to gain but it’s something we’re working on!

Click on the link if you want to see – and hear – Andrea and I in conversation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKYTH8IekGQ&feature=youtu.be

Ready, Steady, Sew! The Glam Opening of Brunswick Building 516

‘Three weeks into my new job as Vice-Chancellor and I’m already opening a new building!’ was just one of several light-hearted comments made by Martin Bean in a typically warm and energetic speech at the Grand Opening of Building 516 at Brunswick.

The building looked fabulous, as did the crowd, many of whom had come straight from an all-nighter at Melbourne Fashion Week. How can so many people look so glamorous at 8 in the morning?

The re-purposed John Wardle building is a brilliant achievement. In his keynote address, CEO of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival and RMIT alumnus, Graeme Lewsey said ‘look at the way the light, the Australian landscape plays into this building, how could anyone not be inspired and creative in this stunning setting.’ Not his exact words perhaps, but every word as true!

Credit goes to the team at Brunswick, in particular Robyn Healy and her colleagues, working side-by-side with the RMIT Property Services Group. Opening the redeveloped building was a real inspiration, as was the idea to bring 150 students on site and ring a bell dead on 0830 with the acclaim ‘Ready, Steady, Sew!’