Welcome to the blog of Otago Polytechnic's Sustainable practice departmental Champions

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, resources, teaching and learning, examples of sustainable practice happening in Otago Polytechnic's academic departments.

Champions will post 3-5 examples per year of what is happening in the classrooms of their departments.

These posts will share teaching resources, students response, projects and assignments, examples of how it fits into the curriculum etc.

These quality examples may also be used by the Otago Polytechnic marketing department to share these stories with the community.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Update from the School of Veterinary Nursing

The  School of Veterinary Nursing have been active over the last 2 years at least improving their sustainable practices and embedding it into programmes.  The further along the road we get, the more we are learning and the more we want to do. 

We have lots happening in our school, and in October we are having visits to our planning days by 2 sustainability experts.  Our goal is to next year have a sustainability audit undertaken so that we can have a clear vision of what else we need to do.

In the meantime I wanted to share with your our Sustainability tips of the week.................

These are shared with all our students via moodle and staff via email and insite.  Don;t forget to sign up and follow it. 

Kind Regards
Francesca Matthews
Programme Manager and Sustainability Champion
School of Veterinary Nursing

Friday, May 6, 2011

OISA strengthens it commitment to sustainable practice

OISA continues to embrace sustainable practise.

Andy Thompson, who works for the Otago Institute of Sport and Adventure (OISA) as the Program Manager for the Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (DOLM) initiated a gardening project for his students earlier ths year. More specifically it involved planting a
variety of vegetables (see adjacent photos) on campus as part of the Otago Polytechnic (OP) Living Campus project. Michelle Ritchie (Manager, OP Living Campus) was very supportive as OP has a limited budget for activities relating to the Living Campus. The result is that the campus saves money and the students increase their gardening skills (a very sustainable approach within itself!).

The planting work completed by the students is
credited towards their Enviromental Science yr1 and 2 courses. DOLM lecturer Julie Grant plays a key role in guiding and supporting the students. Guest lecturers in these courses include people such as Nicola Bould (Coordinator, OP Sustainable Champions) and Michelle Ritchie. Recently they have learnt about and discussed soil quality as well as furtheirng their understanding of how a living campus operates, its benefits and overall importance in the promotion of sustainable practice.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Otago Institute of Sport and Adventure (OISA)

OISA has embraced sustainable practise.

A recent example has been the purchase of a cycle trailer (see adjacent photo). This means that staff can efficiently move fitness equipment to venues such as the Logan Park fields, Caledonian running track and the Academy South Island. Andrew Keene led this initiative. As a result there are no car parking hassles, gear can be moved quickly (some of it difficult to carry and/or heavy!) and obviously there is limited expense as a vehicle is not required. Students have aslo been involved in course work around the concept of sustainability.

Year 2 Personal Training students completed a task within their Professional Development course. A highlight in the learning and teaching sessions was a trip to the Dunedin recycling centre. The group enjoyed the opportunity to see what actually happens to waste that is collected weekly. The adjacent photo shows bales of plastic bottles that are shipped overseas and reduced for use in the clothing textile industry. Students were also required to present to their class mates a feature of a heath and/or recreation setting and how this relates to the three aspects of sustainability. The settings presented included the Soccer World Cup, 2011 Rugby World Cup, USA Super Bowl and Moana Pool (here in Dunedin!). The features addressed ranged from use of water, food supplies and the materials used to build stadium structures.

While OISA has made a solid start in the 'care' factor that this area brings, it also recognises that an ongoing commitment is required to allow future generations to have and further the opportunities that are currently available. Or put more simply, we all have environmental, socio-cultural-political and economic responsibilities; the key contributors to Education for Sustainability.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dunedin School of Art - Sustainability in the Programme Document

Sustainability at the Dunedin School of Art at Otago Polytechnic

Artists work to promote critical participation of people and communities in the natural, social and political contexts in which they live. It is acknowledged that a healthy and diverse biophysical environment is essential to ensure human activity.

Artists often engage as social critics with the issues concerning individuals and communities who have been marginalised or alienated from society and/or whose human rights are neglected or abused. Therefore, artists are particularly concerned with issues of equity, social justice and at an individual level in promoting the essential balances necessary for sustaining a good life in the world we occupy. International symposia have recently focused on the relationships between sustainability and contemporary art. Social sustainability is seen as the infrastructure of a healthy community.

Artists often work with low financial or material wealth and with communities and in organisations that have small budgets. To survive, artists need to be economically resourceful and to consider the environmental impacts of their activities.

The School of Art actively works to reduce consumption of physical resources. The staff members are encouraged to conserve natural resources such as energy and water and to teach students how to recycle and to dispose of toxic waste material in sustainable ways. Within teaching, professional practice workshops further develop a focus on environmentally sustainable ways of making and presenting the outcomes of learning in the visual arts.

The School of Art acknowledges that staff need to not only meet the education needs of the student but they should also provide leadership in areas that students might not have previously considered. Literature that addresses future themes in education supports the need for education to provide leadership in sustainability for the future of society. (See The Higher Education Academy, 2006.) As a consequence, artists and visual art educators need to be aware that certain choices, decision and actions they make might have an impact on global sustainability. Therefore, they need to consider what actions and changes they might need to make to support a more sustainable future for themselves and their students and for the wider communities within which they work.

Art educators and students must gain a range of skills relevant to education for sustainable development. These include: visioning, influencing change, managing information, critical thinking, analytical skills, negotiation and mediation skills, and skills in listening and reflecting.  These skills are also identified in the Forum for the Future (2004) as essential skills for a sustainable future.

Obviously, material practices are central to the visual arts. The pragmatics of healthy and viable art practices have led to the gradual movement from toxic to non-toxic materials in all subject areas and the development of understandings of the correct use and disposal of chemicals and other waste materials. Artworks may be designed to endure for a long time and consideration is given to the ways in which they are made and conserved. Other artworks are necessarily temporary in nature and consideration must be given also to the question of the disposal and re-use of the material used in their construction. The developing visual arts industry in the field of the digital arts has also led to an increased awareness of how communities are created and maintained in the digital environment and the sustainability of the digital infrastructure.

The visual arts have a major role to play in the ways in which communities operate. The experience of art is one of validation and critique, celebration and mourning. The wider contextualisation of art in the programme ensures that students understand the ways in which their work both cements and critiques the social order. Students and staff alike must also gain resilience in order to live successfully in the face of increased environmental challenge and its associated social effects.

The School of Art works towards the following aspirations for sustainability:

  • building links between the visual arts and the values that sustain community
  • retention of diverse material practices in the visual arts
  • development of support networks to sustain practices long-term
  • the development and retention of a collegial community
  • increased understanding of bi-cultural and multi-cultural issues
  • specific engagement with environmentally concerned art projects
  • appropriate decision-making around art materials and processes
  • avoidance of or mitigation of the impact of toxic material
  • cradle to the grave approach to the use of materials
  • appropriate decisions around the scale of visual art projects

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sustainability in the Certificate in Mental Health

Otago Polytechnic's programme manager for the Certificate in Mental Health, School of Social Services , Jenny Rudd doesn't do things in halves! Here she has produced a programme document statement for Sustainable practice along with a sustainable practice specific task students will complete as part of their course. Also provided by Jenny are three great resources for teachers in understanding what Education for Sustainability is all about.

Here is the sustainability statement I added to my programme document last year.

Sustainability in the Certificate of Mental Health

Economic, social and environmental sustainability is inherent in recovery based mental health practice and education. Sustainability is integrated through out the program and specifically incorporated in the following ways:

Students are introduced to systems and ecological theory in the values course in relation to human development, self awareness, cultural awareness and environmental, economic and social sustainability. As part of the values course students are required to develop personal goals in relation to environmental, economic, social and personal sustainability and to implement these goals through out the year.

In term two students explore sustainability in relation to issues of social justice, equity, consciousness raising or critical theory, empowerment theory and creative communities and are introduced to the theoretical ideas and work of Paulo Freire Joe Kincheloe, Arlene Goldhard and Fritjof Capra. Capra (2009) states that “the way to sustain life is to build and nurture community” and this is equally relevant in sustaining recovery. Consequently there is an emphasis throughout the program on the value of community, community building and relationships. Students are introduced to a range of holistic models which encompass ideas about the interconnected nature of health and wellbeing and the idea that good health requires physical, environmental, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing.

In term three systems and ecological models of practice are reintroduced in relation to networking and the importance of establishing networks and as a tool for working with mental health consumers, whänau, services and communities for positive change. Students support consumers to develop and implement recovery plans and goals. Plans and goals are determined by consumers but frequently involve activities that contribute to sustainability such as establishing vegetable gardens, fishing, biking and healthier lifestyles. Engaging with nature in practical ways has a long history in mental health therapies. Many community based residential settings have client driven vegetable gardens. Wakari has a vegetable garden and chickens and clients sell eggs to staff. The proceeds go towards resources for various activities.

Course materials and resources are provided online and students are encouraged to use laptops in the classroom rather than printing material. Students are encouraged in this context to think about the resources that they use and to create presentations using recycled materials.

Finally all students participate in a field trip to the Truby King Reserve at Seacliff. Truby King was an innovative visionary who turned the seacliff asylum into an efficient working farm during his years as medical superintendent. The reserve provides a beautiful environment for students to engage with nature and can be a healing and energising experience and students are encouraged to share this experience with their clients.

A key resource I have since come across and probably should have read first is:

Education for sustainability version 1

Ministry of Education (2009). Education for sustainability version 1 in Education 1for

Sustainability. PP 1-10. Retrieved on 25 / 2 / 2010 from: http://seniorsecondary.tki.org.nz/Social-sciences/Education-for-sustainability

Please note that the original document is 35 pages long and not all relevant as a resource for students. It is linked from the document above and saved as a word so easy to edit and save your own referenced version.

Page 1 to 10 – provides an excellent overview of sustainability. I have read a lot of material on the topic and in terms of introducing it to the students in the context of our courses this is the best I have found. I plan to give students page 1 to 10 as a direct resource.

Page 11 to 22 provides a comprehensive set of learning objectives and indicators at level 6, 7, 8. You should find this material stimulating in relation to assessment ideas.

Page 22 to 35 lists a wide range of resources for teaching, learning and assessment generally and specifically for sustainability.

As I have suggested in my programme document statement, I intend to integrate sustainability across my programme in much the same way as I integrate Tïkäkä and Treaty. This means that there will be tasks in each course related to sustainability. In term 1 where the emphasis is on awareness of self and others, I have included the following as a structured task in the student’s reflective journal.

Task 6: Sustainable Practice in Mental health Support Work




Describe what is meant by each of the following concepts and evaluate the relevance of each for mental health support work. (maximum 200 words)

· Environmental sustainability

· Economic sustainability

· Social sustainability

Critically reflect on your personal view in relation to sustainability and explain the aspects of your family history, culture and life experiences that have informed this view (maximum100 words)

Identify two ways that you could incorporate sustainable practices into your personal life and two ways that you could incorporate sustainable practices into mental health support work (maximum 100 words)

There are no wrong answers for this task but students must adhere to the marking criteria.

Marking Criteria

· Student describes what is meant by environmental, economic and social sustainability and evaluates the relevance of these concepts for mental health support work

· Student critically reflects on personal view and provides an explanation

indicating that the student understands the relationship between life experiences and values and beliefs.

· Student identifies two ways they could incorporate sustainable practices into

their personal life and two ways they could incorporate sustainable practices into mental health support work

· The descriptions and critical reflections adhere to ‘Guidelines on Instruction Words’ (See resources section in your course book).

· The descriptions and critical reflections adhere to word maximums.

This assessment meets requirements of

Otago Polytechnics strategic vision and goals



A few more select resources are below:

Hawke, G (2008). The Holistic Approach in Landcare Research: Manaaki Whenua.

Rretrieved on 25 / 2 / 2010 from: http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/sustainability/sustainabilty_details.asp?Sustainability_ID=101

Please note that the document above links to an excellent document titled ‘What is Mätauranga Mäori?’ More suited to degree than certificate level students but very worthwhile for those of you who will be relatively new to co teaching treaty and tïkäkä material this year.

Capra,F. (2004-2010). Ecology and Community in Centre for Ecoliteracy: Publications. retrieved on 25 / 2 / 2010 from: http://www.ecoliteracy.org/essays/ecology-and-community

Fritjof Capra is one of my favorite and one of the leading authors on sustainability. ‘Turning Point’ (A feature level movie available on google movies) is another excellent resource

Thanks Jenny. This is a very valuable resource especially for those in the area of social services. I know others will get a lot out of reading this and exploring the links!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

‘Bikes on campus’ – Central Otago style

There’s a big difference up here from Dunedin – sure the climate, but we’re flat. In 2009 the campus saw a large increase in the international student population alongside those coming from out of district. Many of these students arrive without any form of transport. After a few discussions about this ‘Bikes on Campus’ was born.

‘Bikes on Campus’ is an initiative to get students mobile. All students who now arrive at the campus can get a bike, helmet and lock for a small refundable deposit. When we started the project we had a whip round the community and staff, and all of a sudden we had 20-30 mountain bikes, helmets and locks. What is really pleasing about this was that mostly these were all donated. Now, looking back it all seems so simple and ticks a lot of boxes:

· Students are mobile, particularly those who wouldn’t normally be able to afford a car
· Fitness and personal health are an excellent secondary outcome
· The bikes were often not being used and risked being dumped – very green recycling
· Car numbers are reduced
· The ‘feel good about Otago Polytechnic factor’ is huge
· There is no public transport in Cromwell – so it overcomes this hurdle

It’s all good with this initiative – and I’m sure the same concept could be applied to a lot of resources to help students.

For any further information send an email to alex.huffadine@op.ac.nz