The true value of materials: establishing a live teaching model through funded research

Joan Farrer, Marney Walker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper reflects upon the process of establishing an extra-curricular community of practice using a collaborative design and science trans-disciplinary learning approach outside of the curriculum in order to develop a skills toolbox for a mixed economy of learners and future green entrepreneurs at the University of Brighton (UoB) UK.

The discussion focuses on the challenges and benefits for participants who are in this case study, centred on the concept of ‘eco’ (design and materials) using a live research model to support and propel teaching and learning in a new environment. Under consideration is whether or not there are unique benefits to this educational approach in research and practical terms; using cross-disciplinary lines of enquiry. This has provided new learning and up-skilling opportunities at all levels, UG and PG students, junior and senior staff, design, craft and materials practitioners and commerce established business and incubation. The funded project has led to the development of a trans-disciplinary engagement model, necessary to build the intelligence and skills to address the complex issues of sustainability (people profit planet and cradle to cradle modeling) which is required to develop eco and green credentials. Can this kind of complex community of learners, create a new teaching environment to develop and support educational challenges moving forward? In the case of the BRIDGE research project, will this new method facilitate young entrepreneurs establish and embed more sustainable practices into their professional futures?

The driver for this educational model is the European Union funded INTERREG IV Research Project: BRIDGE (Building Research and Innovative Deals in the Green Economy) 2011-2014 where a key project deliverable is the development of ‘green entrepreneurs’ in the field of eco materials, focused on the key materials streams of wood and textiles sourced from the South of England and Northern France. A series of extra-curricular learning events, open to design and science staff, students and practitioners at all levels and across disciplines and faculties at the University of Brighton UK and French Universities ESTIPA and ESTICaen, have been conducted, which have included a fortnightly forum (BRIDGE club), field trips, workshops, talks, exhibitions, symposia, business to business events and cross-channel exchanges. A proliferation of individual and joint eco and sustainable design projects, products and material experiments generated from this collaborative peer learning and community of practice approach by students, lecturers and practitioners from Fashion, Textiles, Design and Craft, Architecture, engineering and the Pharmaceutical and Biomolecular Sciences department (PABS) have taken place and are discussed in relation to the benefits of such a model. The experience for participants in terms of individual development and opportunities for collaboration and knowledge transfer outside of an educational assessment framework is considered.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEDULEARN14 Proceedings
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-8461705573
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event6th International Conference on Education and New learning Technologies - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 7 Jul 20149 Jul 2014

Publication series

ISSN (Electronic)2340-1117


Conference6th International Conference on Education and New learning Technologies
Abbreviated titleEDULEARN14


  • design
  • materials
  • communities of practice
  • knowledge transfer
  • peer learning
  • green
  • eco
  • sustainable
  • interreg iv
  • trans-disciplinarity
  • applied research


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