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Using an Outdoor Learning Space to Teach Sustainability and Material Processes in HE Product Design

Firth, Richard; Stoltenberg, Einar; Jennings, Trent


Einar Stoltenberg


The world is facing environmental changes that are increasingly affecting how we think about manufacturing, the consumption of products and use of resources. Within the HE product design community, thinking and designing sustainability’ has evolved to become a natural part of the curriculum. Paradoxical as the rise in awareness of sustainability increases there is growing concern within HE product design of the loss of workshop facilities and as a consequence a demise in teaching traditional object-making skills and material experimentation. We suggest the loss of workshops and tangible ‘learning by making skills’ also creates a lost opportunity for a rich learning resource to address sustainable thinking, design and manufacture ‘praxis’ within HE design education. Furthermore, as learning spaces are frequently discussed in design research, there seems to be little focus on how the use of an outdoor environment might influence learning outcomes particularly with regard to material teaching and sustainability.

This 'case study' of two jewellery workshops, used outdoor learning spaces to explore both its impact on learning outcomes and to introduce some key principles of sustainable working methodologies and practices. Academics and students mainly from Norway and Scotland collaborated on this international research project. Participants made models from disposable packaging materials, which were cast in tin, in the sand on a local beach, using found timber to create a heat source for melting the metal. This approach of using traditional making skills, materials and nature was found to be a relevant contribution to a sustainable discourse.


Firth, R., Stoltenberg, E., & Jennings, T. (2015, November). Using an Outdoor Learning Space to Teach Sustainability and Material Processes in HE Product Design. Presented at iJADE Conference: Sustainability in Creative Arts Education, Glasgow, UK

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (published)
Conference Name iJADE Conference: Sustainability in Creative Arts Education
Start Date Nov 6, 2015
End Date Nov 7, 2015
Acceptance Date May 24, 2016
Online Publication Date Oct 13, 2016
Publication Date Oct 13, 2016
Deposit Date Apr 1, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 14, 2018
Journal International Journal of Art and Design Education
Print ISSN 1476-8062
Electronic ISSN 1476-8070
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 3
Pages 327-336
Keywords Materials; sustainability; learning space; international collaboration; ecology;material experimentation
Public URL
Additional Information Special Issue:
2015 Conference Issue: Sustainability in Arts Education
Conference dates = 6-7 November 2015
Contract Date Apr 1, 2016


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