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School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

Man rolling turf in garden

Environmental sustainability

We are guided by a commitment to environmental sustainability, recognising its position as one the University's 'Ethical Grand Challenges'.

Ethical grand challenges

The University is also committed to providing every Manchester undergraduate with the opportunity, by 2016/17, to confront key ‘ethical grand challenges’ through the completion of a common programme in each year of their undergraduate study.

This new programme will focus on three themes we believe will help equip our graduates for some of the most profound challenges of the 21st century: sustainability, social justice, and workplace ethics.

JustFest social justice festival

Humanities leads the social justice element of these ethical grand challenges and stages the Social Justice Festival ‘JustFest’ each year.

JustFest brings to life issues in social justice through workshops, exhibition stalls and performances which include acting, music, rap and poetry and whilst primarily aimed at students also engages both University staff and the wider community.

Our Activities

Green Impact Teams

Green Impact is a national environmental accreditation scheme which supports teams of staff or students to improve their environmental performance.

It involves teams progressing through a workbook of actions, implementing as many as possible in their own area.

A team of student auditors independently assess performance which will culminate in teams being awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold depending on the progress they have made.

The cycle concludes with our Green Impact Award Ceremony which is an end of year celebration of all of the teams' collective efforts.

Find out more about Green Impact using the website link below:

Business Engagement in Arts and Humanities

The project was a scoping study for the business sustainability and development of the Researchers in Residences scheme within the context of a larger Faculty-wide Projects Office.

A scoping exercise was undertaken by Project Officer of Researchers in Residence, Dr Jenna C. Ashton, to identify and outline business and enterprise opportunities to enable the long-term sustainability.

Researchers in Residence is a scheme of funded placements for Humanities postgraduate students.

Environmental Sustainability competition

Climate Change and Theology Dialogue

Lincoln Theological Institute
Religions and Theology / ARC

The Lincoln Theological Institute (LTI) has a sustained record of theological inquiry into anthropogenic climate change. The aim of the Climate Change and Theology Dialogue held on 16 July 2015 was to deploy this expertise to extend and consolidate partnerships with selected Religious Non-Governmental Organisations. That is, to bring together practitioners with academic interests or backgrounds in religions and theology working in RNGOs with academy-based theologians/academics who have a specific interest in the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change in the context of environmental sustainability.

The dialogue was attended by invited representatives of CAFOD, the Church of Scotland, the Religious Society of Friends, and Christian Aid, and academics from Manchester and Leeds who all had specific interests in the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change. This dialogue has succeeded in establishing relationships and networks which will allow LTI to develop its potential for significant social impact and make a contribution to environmental sustainability by enhancing knowledge exchange and research outreach in regard to theological perspectives on climate change. A briefing paper has already been published on LTI’s website which presents a fuller account of the dialogue’s discussions.

Environmental Sustainability Teaching in American Studies

Eithne Quinn, English and American Studies

The School sustainability award supported teaching and learning activities on two course units, Aspects of Contemporary America (Level 1) and American Film Studies (Level 2), as well as helped me to begin developing a new Level 3 course unit on Popular Culture and Social Change. New content on climate change was added to Aspects of Contemporary America, and students benefited from an excellent talk from guest speaker Laura Bannister, an alumnus of our Faculty of Humanities who is now an international development spokesperson for the Green Party. She spoke on different modes of political change in the struggle against human-induced climate change. Students of American Film studies, who already devote two weeks to environmental sustainability themes in cinema, enjoyed a guest lecture from Kieran Turner-Dave, an alumnus of our School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures, who is a freelance film reviewer for The Independent and Huffington Post (UK), as well as environmental campaigner. This talk fed into the sustainability-themed assessment task whereby students conduct audience surveys and write up reports on the role of film in changing attitudes and behaviours towards climate change. The new and enhanced content on these units supported by the award are ongoing features, and the guest lectures were commended in student feedback and feature in the American Studies newsletter. Lively discussions around employability and social responsibility in career paths were also a feature of the Q&A between speakers and students.

Migratory Birds: Poetry and Perceptions of Climate Change

Clara Dawson, English and American Studies

In March, I held a panel discussion. The panel comprised two literature academics from Durham University, a climate change lecturer from the Tyndall Centre, UoM, and an ornithologist from MMU. The speakers each gave a 15 minute paper and then answered questions from the audience. The audience was comprised of students and staff from the university, and members of Manchester climate change groups. Feedback from the audience was positive. On 11 June, I had a meeting with Mike Harris from RSPB and Helen Cutts from the environmental sustainability team at UoM. We discussed the feasibility of the university incorporating swift bricks (a conservation and biodiversity scheme) into the new building projects. Helen is going to pitch this project to the Capital Project team, with support from Mike. We also discussed the possibility of a longer-term partnership between RSPB and the university. Two of the panel speakers have confirmed that they would contribute to a special issue of a journal on birds and poetry. I am going to pitch a special issue to The Journal of Ecocriticism in the next few months.

Social Responsibility in the Curriculum competition

2013 - 14 winners

  • Dr Caroline Bithell - Arts Management
  • Dr Stuart Campbell - Conflict Zones and Reconstruction
  • Jo Deakin - Youth Justice and Juvenile Delinquency
  • Dr Polly Low and Dr Peter Liddel, Literacy through Latin

Further details

2012 - 13 winners

  • Zelda Baveystock - Making Culture
  • Peter Gatrell - Refugees in Modern World History
  • Barbara Lebrun - Protest Music in France
  • Yaron Matras - Social Multilingualism and Romani Linguistics
  • John McAuliffe - Centre for New Writing
  • Eithne Quinn - Film Studies and Climate Change
  • John Zavos - Learning Tasks Looking Outwards

Further details

Case Studies