This report has been provided by Haleh Moravej, Senior Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences at Manchester Metropolitan University, and Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas, Professor in Marketing and Sustainable Business at the British School of Fashion, GCU London. Together, they produced one of five successful award-winning applicants for funding from ANTF in 2021 to support dissemination of their work around sustainability in Higher Education. You can follow Haleh on @HalehMoravej and Natascha on @fashionNatascha on Twitter.
A creative collaboration is born
Summer 2020 was a challenging one for many of us but meeting fellow NTF and CATE winner Haleh Moravej, founder of the social enterprise MetMUnch, was the start of a creative collaboration, a fusion of diverse academic disciplines and a shared passion for creative pedagogy.
In June 2020 Natascha presented the keynote at Glasgow Caledonian University London “Creative experiment in the HE Classroom: An enhancing student experience online symposium”. She shared her research and extensive experiences of teaching fashion internationally and in intercultural settings and how she develops globally responsible fashion graduates through a sustainability-focused, internationalised curriculum. Haleh’s presentation was one of the symposium highlights; her passion and energy were tangible as she regaled us with how she started with just £20 of cabbage in 2011 and in the decade since has been on a fearless educational journey, taking the class out of the classroom, engaging students and the community in creative food, nutritional education and sustainable diets.
Cooking up creative approaches to teaching sustainability
Seeing parallels between the seriousness of the social and environmental challenges of our respective industries – food and fashion – and recognizing a shared desire to empower learners to make informed study and professional choices, added to our joint passion for purposeful fun, we submitted a proposal “SDG12 – Food, fashion and fun: Creative pedagogies for sustainable HE”, for the NTF and Cate Winners Sustainable HE Community Workshops. We had so much fun with that we decided to submit another workshop proposal: “Can mushrooms save the world?” for the annual conference of NTF and CATE 2021. Our workshop proposal was selected and awarded £500 funding! #MushroomMoney
Our creative collaboration on the unlikely intersection of sustainable food and fashion resulted in a high-energy workshop in March 2021 at Advance HE’s first Sustainability Symposium: Facing Forward with Sustainability: Principles, Progress and Partnership, with four of our fabulous students (Levi Richardson, Hamnnah Morgan, Haya Khalifa AlFadhel and Luna Sanchez Granell) as collaborative partners. Ironically, our session “Slow it Down: Personalising the Education for Sustainable Development – food, fashion and teaching for the SDGs” was delivered at high speed to ensure we crammed in as much as possible on how concepts such as transparency, traceability and accountability can be brought to life implementing ‘Learning for a Sustainable Future’.
The Sustainable Supperclub
September 2021, #SustainableSeptember, saw the launch of our NTF-funded pedagogic project the Sustainable Supperclub. An energetic experiential transdisciplinary online workshop “Can mushrooms save the world?” using the lenses of food and fashion to integrate the SDGs into fun, creative and impactful learning and teaching activities and assessments. We advertised for 20 members of the higher education community who shared our passion for sustainability and were looking for creative ways to engage personally and professionally with the challenge of overconsumption to discover the recipe for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) with a focus on SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Since we were still operating online we wouldn’t be able to serve our Supperclub guests ourselves, but we could offer convivial conversation and plenty of food for thought. Prior to the session we sent our guests two surprise parcels – one containing a mushroom growing kit and the other containing a darning mushroom, needles and threads, as a taster of our evening of socially responsible dining and darning.
We planned the session around a “menu” of activities (see Image) taking us from Starters where we introduced ourselves and our Sustainable Supperclub concept. Next followed Mains where we introduced SDG 12 and its relation to the global food and fashion systems, highlighting social and climate justice issues including waste, exploitation and cultural appropriation. For Dessert we engaged participants in the sorts of food and fashion experiential learning activities we have developed for our teaching practice. Although we, as the Sustainable Supperclub chefs, appreciated all the positive comments and feedback on our offerings, for us the highlight of the Supperclub came with the After-Dinner Social. During what we called a sharing platter of positive stories, we invited participants to share their own diverse and positive stories. Our first after-dinner speaker was GCU London MBA Luxury Brand Management student Haya Khalifa talking about her personal sustainable story including the amazingly impactful Sustainable Luxury Video Manifesto she created as part of her studies.
Subsequent ‘diners’ shared their personal and professional sustainable stories – or as we called them #MushroomMoments. We heard from educators, activists and Fellow NTFs across seemingly disparate disciplines including business, chemistry, graphic design and psychology who each added their own secret spices showing novel and impactful ways to teach sustainability using personal experiences, environments, and disciplines as ways to transform sustainable higher education and promote attributes such as empathy, global citizenship and creativity.
National Teaching Fellow and CATE winner Haleh Moravej is Senior Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences at MMU, a social entrepreneur and highly experienced media nutritionist. Haleh is founder of MetMUnch, an international award-winning student social enterprise bringing nutrition, community, creativity, employability, and sustainability together while enhancing the student experience and belonging. Haleh’s excellence in outstanding teaching for entrepreneurship, sustainability and employability recognised in multiple awards including MMU Union Best Teacher of the Year 2012; National and International EAUC Green Gown Award Winners in Student Engagement 2014 for MetMUnch; UnLtd/ HEFCE SEE Changemakers: Social Enterprise Outstanding Achievement Award 2017, Advance HE CATE winner 2020 with MetMUnch team and one of NatWest #Wise100 Women of Inspiration leading a social enterprise 2020. In 2021 Haleh was awarded a prestigious Honorary Fellowship of the British Science Association (BSA).
National Teaching Fellow and Senior Fellow, Professor Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas EdD FRSA is Professor in Marketing and Sustainable Business at the British School of Fashion, GCU London. Natascha is Vice Chair of PRME UK&I Chapter and Vice Chair of The Costume Society. An Accredited Lecturer in Intercultural Management (Hofstede Insights) and Certified Management and Business Educator (Chartered ABS), Natascha is an Advisory Board member of the Council for International African Fashion Education (CIAFE). Natascha is co-author of Fashion Management: A Strategic Approach, Editor-in Chief of Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases, and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Sustainable Fashion & Textiles and supports the RSA and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on their Make Fashion Circular and Rethink Fashion initiatives representing GCU London on the Circular Economy Higher Education Network. Natascha won the 2020 Case Centre Award for Ethics and Social Responsibility, was Highly Commended in the 2020 Women in Marketing Awards Marketing Scientist category, and Runner-Up in the 2022 Financial Times Responsible Business Education Awards recognizing her leadership in teaching and research in marketing education. Natascha is a knitter, stitcher and make-do-and-mender!
Image 2: Sustainable Supperclub menu