The following post was written by Ash Tierney, a Research Associate and Project Manager for Bristol Futures. Ash has been a BILT Associate since May 2019.
I’ve been working in curriculum
development roles at the University of Bristol since 2012. My focus started
with Education for Sustainable Development and saw me conduct curriculum
reviews on this theme across all degree programmes. I represented higher education
in the UK at the House of Commons discussions on “Enabling
the future we want: Education for Sustainable Development in the UK”.
Outside of the formal curriculum, our team collaborated with the Students
Union, Bristol Hub, the National Union of Students and UWE. One of our biggest
achievements in this time was the Bristol Green Capital project “Green Capital: Student Capital. The
power of student sustainability engagement”. The effort
resulted in over 100,000 hours of student volunteering for sustainability
across both UoB and UWE.
I was delighted to be one of three
academics who co-developed the “Bristol
Futures: Sustainable Futures” open online blended course,
hosted on FutureLearn. It was the first time I had collaborated pedagogically
with such interdisciplinary peers, one from Chemistry, the other from
Engineering. The result is a four-week course that is freely accessible to
everyone globally and runs three times a year.
Since late 2017, I’ve become Project
Manager for the University’s Bristol Futures project covering areas of the core
and optional curriculum. In 2018/2019, we delivered four new interdisciplinary optional units.
The units have challenged traditional teaching approaches, experimenting with
new forms of assessment and blended learning delivery. This role includes
typical project management responsibilities (budget, staffing, evaluation,
etc.), but also encompasses dynamic elements of content development such as
script-writing for documentaries.
While completing my PhD on Historical
Archaeology, I ran public engagement activities within archaeological
fieldwork. In the USA, I led engagement efforts for three seasons on “Embedding
Sustainability Thinking into Fieldwork: placing student learning at the heart of
community engagement”. This was divided into two foci:
research-led outreach in the local high school; and co-produced research with
the local community archaeology interest group. Within Bristol’s archaeology
degree training fieldwork at Berkeley Castle, I led the engagement team to work
with the community in novel ways, most notably “The Town
Museum Project”. In this project, our Bristol students
created displays of excavated material culture and placed them on display in
the homes and businesses of Berkeley village. By bringing the archaeology into
community-led temporary curatorship, we demonstrated trust in the community and
allowed those unable to visit the excavations to feel more involved. My
student-led public engagement efforts are noted by
HEFCE as national best practice.
Following completion of my PhD in 2017, I
have taken on the role of Project Director of Archaeology within Project Nivica,
in the Kurvelesh mountains of Albania. The project sits within eco-tourism
domestic initiatives, with the overall ambition to compile a detailed understanding
of the history, archaeology and ecology of the village of Nivica and its
environs. The aims of the project are: to understand how the inhabitants of
Nivica shaped their identity in relation to Epirus, Illyria and Rome; and to
situate heritage practice and participatory engagement within the principles of
the Sustainable Development Goals. I am working in collaboration with the
Municipality of Tepelenë, the National Coastline Agency, and the
Institute of Archaeology.
Within my BiLT Associate role, I am
looking to focus on outputs that cross both my interests in sustainability and
heritage. Over the next two years, I will engage at sustainability conferences
in the HE sector, disseminating our innovative work at Bristol, including the
operational and logistic aspects that make pedagogic ambitions possible. I’d
like to create podcasts with other educators on topics of professional practice
and ethics within teaching, exploring methodological approaches, and how to
embed the Sustainable Development Goals into student-led discussions and
action. Given my Arts background and involvement in the Cadbury
fiasco, I would also like to work with others to create a brief for international
corporations on why Arts graduates are integral to their success.