Keele team wins national teaching excellence award

Keele University has been awarded a prestigious Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) from Advance HE, recognising the outstanding work of the Education for Sustainability Team.

CATE awards recognise and reward collaborative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching and learning, highlighting the key role of teamwork in higher education.

Collaboration is at the heart of the Education for Sustainability Team and its approach, and is a core dimension of Keele’s ‘Social Learning’ vision. The constitution of the core team itself shows impressive cross-institution collaboration, including academic, professional services, and estates staff, with equal student membership in the team, working in close partnership to embed sustainability throughout everything the University does.

Sarah Briggs, Sustainability Project Officer within the Education for Sustainability Team, said: “It’s fantastic to receive the CATE award in recognition of the team’s work and our collaborative approach. I feel privileged to work with such passionate individuals who are open to new ideas and driving change to help create a sustainable future. Working with students who eagerly channel their energy into developing existing projects and co-creating new and exciting opportunities to engage fellow students and the wider Keele community has transformed the impact and reach of our work.”

Keele’s Education for Sustainability Team is made up of six core team members: Professor Zoe Robinson, Professor of Sustainability in Higher Education and Keele University’s Director of Education for Sustainability; Huw Evans, Environmental Manager; and Sarah Briggs, Sustainability Project Officer, alongside three paid Student Sustainability Interns who work as partners to drive progress towards a sustainable future; Senior Sustainability Intern Alana Wheat; Sustainable Food Projects Intern Lucy Talbot; and Sustainable Living Projects Intern Ashleigh Mubaiwa. In addition, the team works in close partnership with the Students’ Union.

Professor Robinson said: "I am absolutely delighted that the activities, approach and impact of our Education for Sustainability Team have been recognised nationally through winning a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence. What makes this award so special is that it rewards the amazing contributions and spirit of partnership and collaboration from a team that draws on people from right across the University from academics, to students, students' union and estates staff. This diverse team highlights how embedding sustainability in the student experience is the responsibility of all parts of the institution.

“I am extremely fortunate to be able to work with such a dedicated team, and I hope that this award provides the team with further confidence and drive to continue our work of embedding sustainability in all that we do at Keele University, and an acknowledgement of the great impact that this has had on staff and students across the organisation."

The team’s aim is to enable all students to graduate with a ‘sustainability lens’ that they can apply to their discipline, professional and personal lives. The Education for Sustainability Team works to embed sustainability across the formal curriculum, the co-curriculum, and the hidden curriculum, requiring collaboration from across the University - core to the successful implementation of research-informed practice.

The Education for Sustainability Team prides itself on building a network of staff and students to embed a distributed responsibility approach to sustainability throughout the University. The collaborative approaches applied daily in the team empowers staff and students to lead on projects and build relationships with key stakeholders, delivering experiential learning opportunities for students that promote employability, personal reflection and development.

The work undertaken by the Education for Sustainability Team has impact and social and environmental value beyond the campus at Keele.

Professor Helen O’Sullivan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education at Keele University, said: “The Education for Sustainability Team’s collaborative approach drives genuine organisational and cultural change through embedding sustainability in all Keele does. The team successfully engages students as partners, enabling staff and students to learn collaboratively whilst continually driving campus sustainability forward. I am delighted that their work continues to be recognised on a national and international scale.”