Last updated: August 14, 2023

RCE Severn

Photo Credit: RCE Severn
Rce details
United Kingdom
Date of RCE acknowledgement:
March, 2008
Description of RCE and Geographic Region:

RCE Severn is hosted by the University of Gloucestershire, in the UK. It provides a platform for partners across the West Midlands and South West of England to work together developing and implementing innovative projects and programmes in learning and change for sustainability. The region spans a diverse group of counties across the West Midlands and the northern part of the South West of England.

Goals and Objectives:

RCE Severn seeks to assist the West Midlands region in moving towards sustainable development through transformative learning, participatory engagement and collaborative partnerships.

The purpose of the RCE is to bring together individuals and organisations from different sectors to:

  1. Develop a cross-sectoral and cross-regional collaboration platform focused on learning and change for sustainability that adds value to existing initiatives.
  2. Facilitate shared learning, develop projects, and exchange best practice to build capacity and make tangible contributions to long-term change for sustainability.
  3. Create opportunities for people to gain practical experience in sustainability through voluntary activities and professional opportunities.
  4. Broker collaboration and seek resources to develop transformative learning projects and applied research for sustainability.
  5. Engage with local, national and international partners to build collaboration and to influence strategies and policies that impact on the work of RCE partners.

RCE Severn implements its vision by working towards strategic goals that are integrated into the University of Gloucestershire’s Sustainability Strategy 2017-2022. It is also part of the University’s wider public engagement activity and the partnerships goal of its Strategic Plan 2017-2022: “To build partnerships which create opportunity, innovation and mutual benefit for the communities we serve”.

RCE Severn’s aims are:

  • Collaboration – on multi-sector and cross-regional learning and change for sustainability
  • Capacity building - sharing learning, developing projects, exchanging best practices
  • Professional opportunities - creating ways for people to gain practical experience in sustainability
  • Supporting innovation - transformative learning and real world research for sustainability
  • Influencing change – acting with local, national and global partners to inform policy and practice
Organisation Hosting RCE Secretariat:

University of Gloucestershire

Key Partners:

RCE Severn members range from NGOs, community organisations, businesses, Higher and Further Education Institutes, to schools, local government and public sector groups.

Key partners form the advisory group and these represent:

  • Third sector
  • Public sector
  • Private sector
  • Youth/Schools
  • Tertiary Education
  • University Staff
Current Activities:

Core activities include:

  • Newsletter and communications – sent to all RCE Members with news and opportunities in sustainability education from the University, wider RCE Severn region and global RCE network. All members are invited to contribute relevant content and follow RCE Severn on social media.
  • Collaborative projects – involving one or more RCE Partners working with the University, RCE projects strive to implement and develop transformative learning and practice in sustainability that contributes to the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Events and seminars – offered to all members to facilitate learning and development as well as sharing of good practice in sustainability. Events may be hosted at the University or at other venues and may be organised in collaboration with or led by RCE Partners.
  • Placements and internships – facilitated through the University’s Sustainability Team and employability service, these professional projects help RCE Partners to build capacity to achieve sustainability goals and to offer students real-world experience linked to sustainability.
  • RCE Severn meetings – including meetings of the RCE Advisory Group and the annual RCE Severn Forum, which is open to all members to shape the ongoing direction of the RCE.

Photo credit: RCE Severn

Upcoming Activities:

Learning Innovation for Tomorrow (LIFT) programme

In 2016-2017 the new LIFT programme was launched by the University and funded 8 academic schools to innovate in their teaching through sustainability education projects. LIFT projects worked actively with 12 community organisations and resulted in a range of activities and outcomes for sustainability:

  • 4 projects involved students actively in learning with community partners
  • 3 public exhibitions and websites were created with project results and materials
  • 4 community/RCE workshops/events were organised
  • 2 projects focused on international and intercultural learning experiences

Sustainability Internship Programme (SIP)

The SIP successfully offered 14 students bespoke opportunities in sustainability with RCE Severn partners, connecting employability and sustainability. The SIP which achieved UNU RCE recognition in 2016 and was also a shortlisted finalist in the UK Green Gown Awards last year, has become an excellent means of engaging RCE partners in a tangible project. Partners have been actively involved in this initiative as they see the value of hosting a UoG student at their organisations.

The Regeneration Repair Café

Launched in May 2016, this project has promoted engagement between students, University staff, local government and a local charity by holding a monthly repair workshop at a local church in Cheltenham. It engages all parties in rethinking the culture of repair and how products are produced, helping to develop practical skills and social learning around the circular economy and principles of re-use. Regeneration aims to empower people of all generations, and particularly women and ethnic minority groups, developing their confidence to repair and with this to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Key achievements at the end of its first year:

  • 416 items brought in for repair and 80% successfully repaired and not sent to landfill
  • Over 500 local community visitors and 40 students actively learning how to repair

In 2017 the repair café expanded to introduce specialist advice and workshops on IT, technology and clothing with local RCE partners. It had also begun to offer advice clinics on energy saving, composting, upcycling, gardening and food waste.


RCE Severn newsletters have become useful communication platforms to involve colleagues in our activities and build closer relationships. The bi-monthly newsletter is becoming an increasingly active tool for partners to engage with one another, and this year the newsletter’s format has been refreshed to make it easier to digest, and easier to share online with partners beyond the immediate RCE network.

Social media following has also continued to increase and become a valuable channel through which to share partner’s activities.

Seminars and events

In 2016-17, RCE Severn hosted and supported 3 seminars and events supporting local engagement with sustainability education. These events drew in regional and national audiences to participate in dialogue with national and international experts from their respective fields.

  1. RCE Severn Forum in November 2016 – This was on the theme of collaborative change towards sustainability and featured two keynote speakers: Dr John Blewitt (RCE Severn Chair, and core member of Britain’s leading green think tank, Green House), and Dr Jenneth Parker (Director of Research at the Schumacher Institute, a core RCE Severn partner). These keynote presentations set the scene for discussion with RCE Severn partners about the direction of the RCE in the coming years.
  2. Academic scholarship in sustainability – In April 2017, RCE Severn hosted Dr Rodrigo Lozano from the University of Gävle, Sweden, to provide a seminar on the developing field of sustainability scholarship from an editor’s point of view. The seminar, which formed part of the LIFT: Learning Innovation for Tomorrow programme, explored key themes in current scholarship, areas for development, publication trends and impact.
  3. Mark Wood, Public Lecture – As part of the University’s Sustainability Showcase in June 2017, RCE Severn hosted a public lecture with Polar Explorer, Mark Wood which was attended by 123 people. RCE Severn has a large number of schools partners, and the lecture tied in with Mark’s upcoming expedition to Everest, ‘Mission 8848’, where he will use cutting edge technology to connect with over 1 million classrooms around the world, raising awareness of climate change and cultural differences.
Communication Channels
Twitter handle:
Contact Details
Main RCE Contact:
Dr Alex Ryan, RCE Severn Director
Secondary RCE Contact:
Miriam Webb, RCE Severn Coordinator
RCE Youth Coordinator(s):
Miriam Webb, RCE Severn Coordinator
General RCE email:
RCE mailing address for correspondence:

Sustainability Team
University of Gloucestershire
DH204 Dunholme Villa, Park Campus
Cheltenham, GL50 2RH