RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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129 Geographies of co-production: Student and staff collaborations with employers and external organisations
Affiliation Higher Education Research Group
Convenor(s) David Simm (Bath Spa University, UK)
Yvonne Oates (Cornwall College, UK)
Chair(s) David Simm (Bath Spa University, UK)
Yvonne Oates (Cornwall College, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 27 August 2014, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Room Skempton Building, Room 064b
Session abstract In recent years there has been a burgeoning of employer engagement with public, private and voluntary sectors in order to: firstly, enhance employability and entrepreneurship of students; secondly, as an income-generation stream to institutions; thirdly, as a way of demonstrating wider impact of research beyond Higher Education; and, fourthly, to engender altruistic links between the university and the local community. The fostering and establishment of student-academic-practitioner partnerships, such as work-based learning, placements or research collaborations, provides many opportunities but also issues between stakeholders.

Through the dissemination of good practice, this session examines the purpose and value of student and staff collaborations with employers and external organisations, and explores how they are shaping curricula (Yorke & Knight, 2004) and creating new and flexible ways of learning for students and staff (Gedye & Chalkley, 2006). Discussions of effective external collaboration may include aspects such as understanding stakeholders’ working practices, institutional support and guidance for setting up networks and monitoring quality standards, the role of mentoring and assessment, and the nature of reciprocity between stakeholders. Are these collaborations serving stakeholders well, or are there further lessons to be learned? In considering these aspects, some questions emerge that the conference papers might address:-

• What are the benefits and risks of student collaborations?
• How is employment engagement shaping the curriculum?
• What new or adapted ways of student learning are being devised for effective employer engagement?
• What are the links with graduate attributes and soft skills?
• What are the links between work-based learning/ placements and the informal curriculum?
• What is the nature of assessment involving external parties and how can issues be addressed?
• How can research collaborations inform and be translated into effective teaching?


Gedye, S. and Chalkley, B. (2006) Employability within Geography, Earth and Environmental Science. GEES Learning and Teaching Guide: The Higher Education Academy.
Yorke, M. and Knight, P. (2004) Embedding employability into the curriculum. Learning and Teaching Support Network Learning and Employability Series.
Linked Sessions Co-producing geographical research: practical and theoretical approaches to working with student researchers
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Internships: a method for co-producing geographic knowledge
Colin Arrowsmith (RMIT University, Australia)
Seyedhossein Pourali (RMIT University, Australia)
The School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences at RMIT University is responsible for the education and training of students in the areas of mathematics and geospatial science, including surveying, cartography, geographic information science and remote sensing. Within the school we currently have 70 PhD students undertaking research in a diverse range of disciplines.
In this presentation one method of industry support that provides the student the opportunity to transfer their theoretical knowledge to solve real-world problems with an industry partner, will be discussed. Under the auspices of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI), an AMSI Internship links postgraduate students and their supervisors to industry partners as well as providing financial support to the student and supervisor. Internships generally are for 4 to 5 months duration. Whilst the benefits to the student, supervisor and industry partner are extensive, there are some issues that require careful consideration. This presentation will discuss some of these issues as well as provide some background into the research topic used for the internship.
Improving the effectiveness of Ugandan Water User Committees: The role of the student intern
Oscar McLaughlin (University of the West of England, UK)
Alan Terry (University of the West of England, UK)
Since the 1980s, a series of water reforms have been initiated within the Global South with the aim of improving services to poor communities. Their rationale and origin may be traced back to the rise of neo-liberal thinking and events such as the 1992 Dublin Principles. In so doing the role of government has become that of a facilitator, promoting more participatory methods of managing water at the community level. As part of this movement, the Ugandan 1999 Water Act encouraged the formation of Water User Committees (WUC) whose membership is drawn from the beneficiaries of the water supply, tasking them with ensuring the proper maintenance of the water system by collecting revenue from users. Evidence suggests that many WUCs are ineffective due to ignorance of their rights and responsibilities. This paper examines the process by which a Handbook for WUCs was developed through a participatory process in which the co-production of knowledge derived from academia, communities, WUCs, government agencies and NGOs was assimilated to produce a resource that reflected many different perspectives on the management of water at a local scale. The work was initiated by a student intern working with a Ugandan NGO between November 2012 and May 2013.
The usefulness (or otherwise) of professional bodies in supporting sustainability-embedded curricula
Georgina Gough (University of the West of England, UK)
The UK higher education (HE) sector has seen several recent developments in relation to education for sustainable development (ESD). Students, the Higher Education Academy (HEA), the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) have all recommended that sustainability be given greater importance in the curricula of programmes delivered by HEIs in the UK (NUS, 2013; HEA/QAA, 2013; HEFCE, 2013). At the same time, the curricula in many discipline areas is heavily influenced by the requirements of professional bodies and other industry organisations. This paper considers the extent to which these bodies are a help or a hindrance in the quest to ensure that sustainability literacy is developed in graduates of all discipline areas.

Discussion will include the extent to which sustainability forms part of the criteria for accrediting programmes or chartered status or inspecting/operating criteria in a range of discipline areas including health, engineering, construction, business and management and education. The relationship between academics and these bodies will also be explored. Areas of good practice and resistance will be highlighted.

This paper will be useful to those with responsibility for curriculum development and/or delivery, particularly those who are seeking to enhance their curriculum by incorporation of sustainability principles.
David Simm (Bath Spa University, UK)
Yvonne Oates (Cornwall College, UK)
Jennifer Hill (University of the West of England, UK)