Shining a light on green job pathways for the next generation

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Today marks the launch of a new year-long programme that aims to inspire and motivate young people in the West of England to pursue green career pathways. Known as Inspire Sustainability, it is one of three West of England Combined Authority (WECA)-funded initiatives as part of the Green Futures Fund, that, if successful, could be replicated and scaled to meet the region’s Climate Emergency Plan and Net Zero ambition.

This announcement builds on recent WECA support of other green skills initiatives in local schools, with West of England Mayor Dan Norris awarding the first green jobs grant for three schools to develop a special environmental careers programme -read more here.

Inspire Sustainability: in a nutshell

Developed in collaboration with UWE-Bristol’s Science Communication Unit, Cabot Learning Federation, Avon Schools Eco Network and STEM Ambassadors West of England, the programme was developed as part of the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Inspire programme. Inspire Sustainability will expand the region’s existing hub of sustainability skills education and training to highlight the region’s leading green skills and expertise in the labour market. Working in partnership, the consortium will deliver three areas of work to three pilot schools; Hans Price Academy in North Somerset, Bristol Brunel Academy in Bristol, and Digitech in South Gloucestershire.  The project includes:

  1. All-school engagement: tailored lessons, talks and careers events with diverse role models, culminating in a whole-school Sustainability Summit.
  2. Eco Council engagement: Eco Action Plan co-development to support the schools achieve Eco School status
  3. Teacher engagement: training so that teachers have the confidence to engage young people on these topics and support them to imagine a future where they can see themselves playing an active role in shaping development.

Once piloted, the outcomes will be shared widely to primary and secondary schools as well as to educational professionals and academics through the consortium’s networks.

West of England Mayor Dan Norris with Year 10 pupils from Orchard School at the Youth Engineering for Environmental Sustainability Summit in October 2021

Building on what works

The Inspire Sustainability approach builds on tried and tested methods explored in DETI Inspire, which has engaged over 7,000 children and young people in the West of England on engineering for sustainability.

Consortium member UWE-Bristol’s Science Communication Unit has a track record of working with and training diverse stakeholders to reach sustainability goals. In 2021, the Unit launched its Climate Action Hub to highlight the existing work of students and academics in this space, as well as to offer support and training to further amplify climate action. Currently it is delivering climate communications training to young people and supporting them to act on things that matter to them. The Youth Climate Communications toolkit will be used to develop the teacher engagement portion of Inspire Sustainability.

Meanwhile, the STEM Ambassador programme will be key to recruiting diverse green role models while Avon Schools Eco Network will use their expertise to support the schools to develop their action plans.

If you are interested to know more about any of this work, please contact project manager Sophie Laggan.


A toolkit and training for youth climate social action

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A toolkit and training for effective youth climate comms and social action

UWE Bristol’s Science Communication Unit (SCU) is launching a new Youth Climate Action Toolkit to empower young people to act on things that matter to them. The toolkit is suitable for 16-24-year-olds, and we encourage you to please download and share the kit with any (young) person you think may benefit from these tools!

The newly developed toolkit has been produced in partnership with young people from the Avon Schools Eco Network, following pilot training held with the DETI Inspire team in the School of Engineering.

The pilot involved 12 young climate activists who learnt how to be more effective with their own campaigning, whilst forming the foundations of this new toolkit to support other young people. As well as empowering young people to act, the toolkit aims to speak with and engage diverse audiences that may not otherwise take part (e.g., through filmmaking, persuasive writing and interactive stalls, etc).

What is inside the toolkit?

To allow any young person to use the materials independently of the training, the toolkit has been designed to stand-alone or complement the training. It consists of four sections:

  • Section one: lays the foundations for effective team working, with a skills audit for young people to assess their baseline entrepreneurial skills for sustainability, and time set aside to define their action project based on need
  • Section two: encourages readers to understand different worldviews – including those from different sides of the political spectrum, and people in positions of power and influence
  • Section three: drills down into the communication methods, allowing readers to select the right method for their audience and to prototype and test their communications
  • Section four: encourages readers to reflect on their learnings, re-assess their skills and evaluate the impact of their communications

Training in the community

The SCU team have also been delivering the Youth Climate Communications to local colleges and youth groups. The training is modular, which allows it to be adapted to suit the needs and interests of the organisations involved.

The training is already being modified to suit the needs of one college, where they have aims to support a more sustainable educational environment by delivering to their students over a two-week period at the end of term. Students will vote on a priority for action within their college and then work in teams, with the support of a coach, developing a communications and behaviour change campaign which could then be delivered in the following term.

The young people’s experience of the programme is being evaluated to better understand whether their attitudes, skills and behaviours relating to sustainability, change as a result of the training. Findings will be shared on this blog later this year.

For empowerment programmes

Meanwhile, aspects of the training are also being delivered to participants of more established empowerment programmes, such as this year’s Catalyse Change programme, Bristol Education Partnership’s Climate Challenge and The Global Goals Centre’s Groundbreakers awards, with the toolkit also featuring in the Groundbreakers’ action pack.

A future aim of the project is to deliver the training online to youth groups and educational establishments across the country, and beyond, with training provided to educators to deliver the programme themselves. For a taster of what this training could look like, head to our YouTube where you can access the social media component of the training.

Where it all began

The training emerged from conversations among the SCU and colleagues about the desire to share our knowledge on climate communications and active citizenship more broadly, so when a funding opportunity arose the Unit was quick to pull together a team to make their dream a reality. The all-female team consists of academics and researchers in disciplines ranging from human geography, engineering, and environmental anthropology – to building physics and entrepreneurship. What unites them is a common interest in supporting young people to develop the skills and confidence they need to take action about things that matter to them.

This training is the first offering from UWE’s Climate Action Hub, also established by the SCU. The Hub is a place for researchers and students to connect with communities for climate action. There is already some work on campus doing just this, such as the children’s workshops delivered by DETI Inspire and Inspire Sustainability, but this is the first time training has been put in place to support the University and communities to do more.

To find out more about the in-person and online toolkit or to connect to the Climate Action Hub, email project manager Sophie Laggan.

To download the toolkit click here.

Metro Mayor meets the people behind the West of England’s green tech

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Metro Mayor Dan Norris met the bright young minds behind some of the West of England’s leading green tech initiatives, during a visit to UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering on Frenchay campus last week.

Mr Norris met some of the skilled young engineers and entrepreneurs behind some of the region’s leading green initiatives as part of the Metro Mayor’s second Jobs and Skills Summit, as well as being given an insight into projects to inspire the region’s future innovators.

The innovative tech on display included drones that measure microplastics in the air, built by award-winning student engineers at UWE Bristol, digitally engineered leak-proof hydrogen storage containers and machines that optimise the growth of the crops people eat.

Some of the programmes are funded through the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation programme, a £5 million initiative from the West of England Combined Authority.

Green Skills

Mr Norris met learners from the Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship (Green Skills) project, a programme designed to upskill learners from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups to help the region achieve its net zero target. 

Green Skills is led by UWE Bristol and delivered in partnership with the Black South West Network and NatWest. It has received £760,000 of funding from the UK’s Government’s Community Renewal Fund and is overseen by the West of England Combined Authority within the region. 

Mr Norris said the demonstration showed the abundance of talent across the West of England and applauded the talented youngsters supporting the region to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and commented:

“I’m so pleased to meet the teams of enthusiastic young people who are pioneering environmentally-friendly technology, boosting the West of England economy and supporting our efforts to reach our net-zero ambitions. It just goes to show how much talent there is in the region, as well as the good, high-quality jobs there are for local people in future-proof sectors such as the green economy, helping us to tackle the climate emergency alongside the jobs crisis.”

Inspiring a Green Future

Special thanks go to Associate Professor Laura Fogg-Rogers who arranged the summit at UWE’s new Engineering building. She also arranged for the mayor to get a preview of the DETI funded We Make our Future planetarium show.

The team from Explorer dome persuaded the Mayor and summit guests to take of their shoes and crawl into the inflatable planetarium for a taster of the engineering sustainability themed show designed to inspire the next generation of engineers. Read more about the show and it’s new funding to go into more schools in the West of England.

Altered from the original post on https://intranet.uwe.ac.uk/whats-happening/news/Article/Metro-Mayor-meets-young-minds-behind-best-of-West-of-England-clean-tech by Anthony Poploski.

Youth Climate Communications: a pilot

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Author Sophie Laggan.

On 24th February, 12 young people, aged 15-24, headed to UWE’s Prototype and Play Lab, in the School of Engineering, for a training day in Climate Communications. Passionate about addressing the climate and ecological emergency, and eager to learn and connect with likeminded people, the delegates came from across the Bristol area, with representation from five different schools/colleges and from the University.

With over half of young people reported to experience some form of climate-related anxiety (Hickman et al. 2021) – this training emerged out of the collective interest of researchers at UWE (from the Science Communication Unit, FET, ABE and DGEM) keen to share their knowledge with, and empower, the younger generation.

How to address climate anxiety

To steer young people away from overwhelm, timely action, forethought and trust in science are needed (Manzanedo & Manning, 2020). And according to a research project by Climate Outreach, to resonate with young people we, as adults, need to validate their negative thoughts while avoiding overly optimistic communications, and provide resources that can alleviate their anxiety.

Drawing on this research, and the interests of young people, the Science Communication Unit shaped the programme of activities for a pilot session with young people.

On the day

Start with the why”

Associate Professor Laura Fogg-Rogers and Research Fellow Sophie Laggan started the training by explaining that different ways of viewing the world shape how we make decisions and the only way to forge meaningful dialogue and promote pro-environmental change is through meeting people where they’re at. They used the example of solar panels – where one household might buy solar panels for environmental reasons, others do so out of economic/energy security, and others simply because they follow the ‘norm’ – their neighbours did it.

The participants ran with this idea in a role-playing exercise where they tried to convince someone ‘not like them’ – and in a position of power and influence – to install solar panels on the roof of their school. With a bit of context about what makes their partner tick, the participants were able to tap into the other person’s values and use it to their advantage.

Sustainable Housing activity

Following lunch and a tour of the Campus’s community garden, the group returned for an engagement activity on passive houses with Dr Deborah Adkins. Each table were given a wooden replica of a typical UK house and asked to stick post-its on the areas they thought could be improved for sustainability, everything from solar panels to insulation and green roofs. The task was accompanied by a short presentation, allowing the participants to learn more about sustainable housing.

Deborah Adkins - greener homes | Administration and support services |  Imperial College London

Designing their own engagement activity

Deborah’s session was followed by an in-depth explanation of the value of physical engagement activities, by Sophie, with the chance for each participant to prototype their design for an engagement activity based on the issue that mattered to them, be that local food or slow fashion. Their issues of concern were formulated in the opening session of the day – “Start with the why”.

Filming sustainability

The day was concluded with top tips by Josh Warren on filmmaking on a budget, before the young people were set to task on recording their own short film on a sustainability topic. The group enjoyed watching each other’s films and spent the last few minutes of the day reflecting on how valuable the day was for their activism and general understanding of people ‘not like them’.


Climate Anxiety post-training?

Before and after surveys, showed that the young people’s negative thoughts (scared, angry, concerned, powerless, guilty, confused) all reduced following the training (except for mournful) and positive thoughts increased (empowered, hopeful, optimistic and determined).

Confidence in communication skills also increased. For instance, 100% felt confident/very confident in engaging their audience after the training, compared to just 11% (N=1) before.

Next steps

Participants suggested that training on social media, graphics and poster design would be useful, and so the team will shortly launch a social media campaign training event for the cohort.

Shortly after the training day the team found out they were successful in their bid to the HEIF FET-FBL Award! This means the training can be replicated for different youth groups, with a focus on those from more diverse backgrounds. And enables them to create e-learnings and printable toolkits.

This work on climate anxiety in young people sits under the umbrella of the Climate Action Hub at UWE, which acts as a space for researchers to connect with communities interested in tackling the climate and ecological emergency. To facilitate this exchange, the Hub is looking at setting up a Staff Network to allow staff the time to build these connections. If you are interested in connecting to the Hub in any way, or have ideas on how it should operate, then please contact Sophie.laggan@uwe.ac.uk.

This training was led by Research Fellow Sophie Laggan, Associate Professor Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, Senior Lecturer Dr Deborah Adkins and Josh Warren.

References:

Hickman, C., Marks, E., Pihkala, P., Clayton, S., Lewandowski, R.E., Mayall, E.E., Wray, B., Mellor, C. and van Susteren, L., 2021. Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: a global survey. The Lancet Planetary Health5(12), pp.e863-e873.

Manzanedo, R.D. and Manning, P., 2020. COVID-19: Lessons for the climate change emergency. Science of the Total Environment742, p.140563.

Taylor, S., 2020. Anxiety disorders, climate change, and the challenges ahead: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Anxiety Disorders76, p.102313.

Climate Outreach, 2020, Britain Talks Climate, 18th November 2020. URL: https://climateoutreach.org/reports/britain-talks-climate/

Sustainability solutions show from UWE Bristol chosen to take part in COP26

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A new planetarium show designed with the Engineering department at UWE Bristol has been chosen to showcase sustainability solutions as part of the Green Zone at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021.

The team will be exhibiting “We Make Our Future”, an interactive, educational & entertaining science show for the next generation of engineers. The show has been designed with planetarium experts Explorer Dome, and is part of the Inspire educational work from the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) team at UWE Bristol. 

Full-dome projections allow attendees to visit engineering marvels from history and explore the pros and cons of modern life. The team aims to celebrate the ingenuity of human engineering, address current issues around Climate Change, and introduce engineering as a relevant and attainable aspiration for all young people.

Guests will learn how the Engineering Design Process can spark our imagination for sustainability solutions to the greatest challenges of our time.

Cllr Toby Savage enjoyed a sneak peak of the show at UWE’s recent Zero Carbon Tour event

Inspiring climate action

To achieve net zero and a low carbon global economy, everything we make and use will need to be completely re-imagined and re-engineered. The digital revolution is boosting the potential for engineers’ design thinking to optimise not only the development process but also the potential for collaborative citizen engagement. That’s where DETI comes in, bringing together industry, academia, and education from across the West of England region. The research collaboration aims to identify and develop the tools, technologies, processes, and skills needed to rapidly accelerate and embed digital engineering to deliver energy transition and clean transport.

We are so pleased to be selected to attend COP26 – at such a critical time in history, all industries need to come together to make a difference for our future. Our new show celebrates the ingenuity of human engineering and shows how we can harness our creativity to implement sustainability solutions. Thinking like an engineer offers hope to solve global problems and bring about real change. We see this as a call to action for the diverse and socially conscious engineers of today – and tomorrow.

Project Lead Dr Laura Fogg Rogers, Senior Lecturer in STEM Education and Communication, UWE Bristol

The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The theme is #TogetherForOurPlanet, and UWE Bristol will also be highlighting our climate action through the new linked Climate Action Hub on the Frenchay Campus.

The ‘We Make Our Future’ show is available to tour schools after COP26 in Explorer Dome’s mobile planetarium. To book the show please look at the resources here: https://digitaltrailblazers.co.uk/resources

Blog written by Anna Jones, Research Business and Innovation Unit, UWE Bristol

UWE Launches Climate Action Hub

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The #ZeroCarbonTour made a stop at UWE Bristol earlier this month, on its way through the UK to COP26 in Glasgow this November. Its aim is to share the net zero message and raise awareness of the UN Race to Zero and the UK’s #TogetherForOurPlanet campaign.

The event brought together local companies and UWE researchers to showcase their low or zero carbon technologies, campaigns and initiatives, through a series of talks and exhibitions – the perfect launch event for UWE’s new Climate Action Hub!

The School of Engineering atrium was transformed, with several stalls exhibiting staff and student projects, including teams from ClairCity, WeCount, Bristol BioEnergy and many more! We also had a visit from Explorer Dome – a large inflatable planetarium with 360 video projection.

Explorer Dome have been developing a new sustainability solutions science show with the DETI Inspire team, which will begin touring local schools this Autumn term.

South Glos Councillor Toby Savage and Metro Mayor Dan Norris enjoyed a sneak peak of the new show We Make Our Future which celebrates the ingenuity of human engineering, addresses current issues around Climate Change and introduces Digital Engineering as a relevant and attainable aspiration for all young people.

The Z block foyer will continue to host the Climate Action Hub throughout the 2021/22 academic year, providing a dedicated space to showcase the work of UWE staff and students and inspire others to take action on the climate and ecological emergency.

We want to hear from you!

Are you doing something cool for the planet? If you would like to host a take-over of the Climate Action Hub or get involved with UWE’s Green Week this October please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk

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