In 2011 I graduated from the University of Victoria in Canada with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts and Environmental Studies. I then went on to do a Master of Science in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science from Lund University in Sweden. I started at Keele in 2013 as a PhD student and Sustainability Project Officer, and became a Teaching Fellow in Environment and Sustainability in 2015 whilst continuing my PhD research.
As a Sustainability Project Officer, I worked to embed sustainability in the curriculum and student experience at Keele. Some activities I undertook in this role were supporting Student Eats, editing the Green:Keele e-newsletter, developing an e-learning module about Education for Sustainable Development for teaching staff, embedding sustainability themes 'away days' for students, and helping organise sustainability events and conferences on campus.
I am a founding member of Keele University’s Sustainability Research Network (KUSRN), a Student Advisor for Unmaking Single Perspectives: A Listening Project , and in the past I have sat on Keele University’s Environment and Sustainability Steering Group.
Research and scholarship
My PhD research explores how Student-led Food Growing Initiatives cope with a transient volunteer base using a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach. Through this research I have worked with three student-led food growing initiatives in universities associated with Student Eats, a community gardening scheme funded by the National Union of Students running in universities across the UK. The guiding themes that characterize my research are food growing, volunteer transience, Education for Sustainability, and activism.
In addition my core PhD research, I am also working on several smaller research projects about (1) how people from different disciplines understand ‘sustainability,’ (2) Chinese students’ perceptions of ‘sustainability’ before & after studying in the UK, and (3) understanding the meaning and cause of ‘failure’ in student-led sustainability projects.
Publications, Presentations and Awards
- Laycock, R. (under review). The tip of the iceberg lettuce: what factors enable knowledge and skill sharing in community gardens?. Agriculture and Human Values.
- Laycock, R., & Robinson, Z. (under review). Reviewing University Community Gardens for Sustainability: Taking stock, comparisons with urban community gardens, and mapping research opportunities, Local Environment.
- Laycock, R. (2017). Teaching Social Research Methods on an International, Collaborative Environment & Sustainability Degree Programme, Journal of Academic Development and Education, 7. doi: 10.21252/ KEELE-0000006. Link to PDF
- Laycock, R., Robinson, Z., & MacGregor, S. (2015, September 14-17). What can university community gardens offer to an ‘alternative’ food system?. In: Second International Conference on Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society - Reconnecting Agriculture and Food Chains to Societal Needs. Paper presented at Second International Conference on Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society, Roma Tre University, Rome, Italy. ISBN: 978-88-908960-3-3. Link to article
- Laycock, R. (2013). The tip of the iceberg lettuce: what direct and indirect factors enable knowledge and skill sharing in community gardens?. Master’s Thesis. Link to thesis
- Laycock, R. (2017, forthcoming). Using Participatory Action Research with Episodic Volunteers: Learning from Urban Agriculture Initiatives. AESOP Sustainable Food Planning Conference 2017. University of Coventry, UK.
- Laycock, R. (2017, forthcoming). Can boundary objects be used to collaborate across timescales? Hope for sustainability initiatives with transient participants. International Urban Farming Conference. Berlin, Germany.
- Laycock, R. (2017, forthcoming). Can boundary objects be used to collaborate across timescales? Hope for sustainability initiatives with transient participants. Resilience 2017 Conference. Stockholm University, Sweden.
- Laycock, R. (2017). Managing Sustainable Participation in Student Food-growing Projects. The National Union of Students’ ‘Student Eats’ Conference. Leeds University Students’ Union, UK.
- Laycock, R. (2016). Challenges in Student-led Food Growing Initiatives and Their Solutions: the role of boundary objects in managing participant transience. International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability. UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development, Tongji University. Shanghai, China.
- Laycock, R. (2016). Action Research for Sustainability: Being a green activist-researcher. KUSRN Seminar Series, Keele University, UK. Link to PDF
- Laycock, R. (2015). What can university community gardens offer to an ‘alternative’ food system?. Second International Conference on Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society. Roma Tre University, Rome, Italy. Link to presentation
- Bessant, S., Laycock, R., & Robinson, Z. (2015). Hearing the student voice: Measuring the impact of ESD. Learning from the sharp end – implications for sustainability in Higher Education Conference. University of Bristol, UK.
- Laycock, R. (2015). Reviewing, Comparing, and Directing Research: University Community Gardens for Sustainability and Urban Community Gardens. Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education: Achievements and Prospects Conference. Plymouth University, UK.
- Brydon-Miller, M. & Laycock, R. (2014). From the Ground Up: The Eco-Feminist University as a Feasible Utopia. Gender, Work & Organization Conference. Keele University, UK.
- Laycock, R. & Steiniger, H. (2013). Making Change Happen: the curious journey of students stepping outside the Ivory Tower and into the garden. Student Action for Sustainability Conference. Keele University, UK. Link to PPT
Over the course of my postgraduate studies, I have been awarded over £6000 GBP of funding for my research, research dissemination, and professional development. I have also received over £18 000 GBP of funding for sustainability initiatives I have been involved with. Notable awards and funding include:
- Keele Excellence Award in Teaching and Learning (Early Career) (2017), £1000 GBP
- Highly Commended Poster Presentation (2017), Keele University’s Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences Postgraduate Conference, UK
- Funding for WSEN’s Global Summit (2016), Keele University, £15 130.17 GBP
- ERASMUS+ Training Grant (2016), €1390 EUR (£1221.06 GBP)
- Best Presentation Award(2016), UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development’s (IESD) International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability (ISCES), 2000 RMB (£228 GBP)
- UNEP-Tongji IESD’s ISCES Travel Scholarship (2016), 6000 RMB (£684.01 GBP)
- Santander Travel Bursary (2015), £525.70 GBP
- Keele Postgraduate Association Bursaries (2014, 2015, 2017), £915.90 GBP
I am the Academic Conduct Officer for the Nanjing Xiaozhuang collaborative undergraduate programme in Environment and Sustainability. In 2017 I was awarded a Keele Excellence Award
I currently teach on the following modules and lead the starred (*) modules.
- Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (ESC-10044)
- Researching Sustainability (taught at Nanjing Xiaozhuang University in China) (ESC-20069) *
- Environmental and Sustainability Impact Assessment and Research Planning (ESC-20079)
- Local Case Students in Environment and Sustainability (ESC-30041) *
- Clean Technology (ESC-20040)
- Research and Business Skills, Project and Portfolio Management (ESC-40048)
*Accreditation is dependent on the degree route and modules taken