RCE Severn - 2019

Radical Sustainability
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Radical Sustainability
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Severn
Contributing organization(s) : 
Lead Partner: Interface – global flooring manufacturer, sustainable business pioneer (4th place, 2019 Globescan index)

Consultancy challenge contributors: Willmott Dixon (contruction), Midcounties Co-op (retail, services), Cheltenham Ladies College (education)

University internal partners: School of Business and Technology, School of Arts
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
University of Gloucestershire - RCE Severn
Organizational Affiliation: 
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Monday, October 28, 2019
Additional resources: 
Project film: https://youtu.be/Xt3HpanuoD4?list=PL2MJy1K3E__HcYDw3tDYIuwOvrHVp07De

Masterclass programme:
University of Gloucestershire Sustainability Strategy – RCE project delivered by the Learning Innovation for Tomorrow (LIFT) programme
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
United Kingdom
Address of focal point institution for project: 
University of Gloucestershire, The Park, Cheltenham, GL50 2RH

Whole-system approach to sustainability
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Gloucestershire is a rural country in the west of England with a population of just under 1 million people. Surrounded by the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire has considerable natural assets and overall good quality of life, with strengths in the tourism and service sector, but faces challenges common to rural regions with low levels and distribution of ethnic diversity, and difficulty in retaining a strong working age population.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
The project responds to the need to move to greener economies, stronger societies and long-term economic viability, challenges identified in the Glos 2050 consultation carried out in the region in 2018. It addresses at system level and through business engagement the variety of economic, technological, ecological and social sustainability challenges that will be faced by current and future business leaders to respond to a rapidly changing world. Key region-specific issues include public transport infrastructure, flood risk, social mobility, ageing population and low carbon transition.
September, 2018 to September, 2022
The Radical Sustainability masterclass project was delivered by RCE Severn at the University of Gloucestershire in partnership with Interface, as leaders in sustainable business. It was designed to meet professional learning needs across the RCE Severn community, where there is growing recognition of the triple bottom line sustainability imperative, but an urgent need for up-to-date insight and skills to innovative for whole-business transformation with a radically new approach.

Radical Sustainability connected local senior leaders in a masterclass led by Interface. Participants benefited from the latest innovation in sustainability strategy, product innovation and biophilic design, with the opportunity to share challenges and co-create solutions for sustainability in their organisations. This flagship masterclass event formed a new network to continue this peer learning process for senior professionals tackling sustainability across more than 25 organisations in the region.

The event also advanced learning for sustainability in the university curriculum, to shape the experience of future graduate professionals and their ability to respond to sustainability in their careers. A coursework competition as part of the event saw student finalists on 8 courses pitching for professional prizes and joining a business challenge workshop with Interface. Academics and professional staff of the university joined the event to expand their expertise in sustainability and its integration into curriculum delivery, student development activities, operations and research projects with external partners.
The project objectives included:

1. Partnership development – securing a mutually beneficial collaboration platform with lead partner Interface

2. Business engagement – cultivating a new network of senior business sustainability leaders in the RCE region

3. Curriculum experience - embedding sustainability briefs into new courses through assessed projects

4. Student development – developing professional skills through exhibition pitches and a business challenge workshop

5. Academic innovation – engaging academics in applied teaching and research for sustainability in the region

6. Learning resources - creating and sharing projects, solutions and materials on the Radical Sustainability theme
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Radical Sustainability brought together over 25 businesses, 20 university staff and 9 university students from across the RCE Severn region in an exclusive masterclass event to advance sustainability as critical to the future of business. It included:

Expert masterclass – headline cutting-edge content from Interface, presenting its vision and strategy, sustainable product innovations, biophilic design principles, implementation issues and next level ambitions.

Executive workshop – facilitated peer learning for senior professionals from the external companies, focused on live challenges for sustainability and providing rapid solutions to take back and implement.

Exhibition and competition – an open exhibit presented by the with student finalists from 8 course groups, featuring their course projects and products against set curriculum briefs, competing for sponsored professional prizes

Business challenge workshop – delivered around one of the new initiatives developed by Interface, giving student finalists the opportunity to respond to real business sustainability issues, explore solutions and gain fresh perspective
Size of academic audience: 
8 academic course groups with 9 student finalists, 20+ academics, 10 professional staff, 25+ local businesses
The main results included:

- Masterclass – successful event that attracted over 25 senior professionals from companies across the region

- Partnership – an ongoing partnership between the University/RCE Severn and lead partner Interface

- Network - over 25 senior leaders active in sustainability now planning further events and collaborations

- Prizes – professional experience prizes with sustainability focus for the student competition winners

- Professional development – shared and bespoke sustainability learning for the companies, staff and students

- Curriculum innovations – new resources around the sustainability curriculum briefs for the competition

- Applied projects – proposals for new business sustainability projects to be delivered in the MBA programme

- Research partners – new industry partnerships brokered to join new research initiatives on local food strategy
Lessons learned: 
The success factor for the partnership between Interface and RCE Severn at the University of Gloucestershire was grounded in their mutual and long-standing commitment to whole system sustainability innovation through the development of people and collaboration to the greater benefit of all stakeholders, with an ongoing legacy from the initial flagship event.

The main challenges were due to the range of different pressures and priorities on the different stakeholders involved, including the need to reconcile business and curriculum delivery schedules for all key participants.
Key messages: 
Radical Sustainability brought together two pioneers in whole-system sustainability – Interface and the University of Gloucestershire – to create an innovative professional learning experience. The event involved an expert masterclass, student exhibition, business challenge and peer consultancy, to help companies, academics and students to adapt and respond to the fast-changing sustainability agenda.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
Radical Sustainability delivered the RCE Severn core commitment of running at least one project annually that contributes to local action for the global goals and professional development for sustainability. The project helped to grow the RCE Severn network by cultivating a new specialist network of senior sustainability professionals in the RCE Severn area seeking to collaborate and support regional innovation for sustainability, revitalizing the business dimension to RCE activities.

The event seeded further business engagement activities linking the university and external organisations, including the Forward Thinking conference in May 2019 and plans to implement a range of applied business sustainability ‘future horizons’ projects as part of MBA programme from 2020 onwards. These plans are grounded in the regional sustainability issues identified through the 2018 RCE Severn network submission to the Glos 2050 regional consultation, and include not just private sector organisations but partners such as Gloucester Cathedral to advance their sustainability priorities.
RCE Severn provided funds of £5,000 with the Learning Innovation for Tomorrow (LIFT) programme to cover:

- Professional facilitator
- Event catering
- Exhibition costs

Interface provided in kind staff time and associated costs to cover:

- Executive speakers for headline presentations
- Staff input to content and delivery of the business challenge
- Staff time and activity costs to support student experience prizes:

o Jacob Neal – individual winner studying Landscape Architecture, who won professional experience with Interface to attend Clerkenwell Design Week, for his design to use forgotten spaces to build communities.

o Nancy Harris – individual highly commended studying Fashion Design, who showed an example of how to upcycle unused military clothing at scale to reduce the amount of synthetic fibres in landfill.

o Events Management – team entry who won professional mentoring plus cash prizes for an event they designed and delivered to educate Cheltenham Jazz Festival visitors at the about ocean pollution.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon Awards 1.jpg (1.6 MB) Radical Sustainability Partnership – key contacts from the University of Gloucestershire and Interface RCE Severn
Image icon Awards 2.jpg (9.62 MB) Radical Sustainability Event - Exhibition RCE Severn
Image icon Awards 3.jpg (1.57 MB) Radical Sustainability Student Competition Awards Presentation RCE Severn
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Building capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Empowering and mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level