Undergraduate Geographical and Earth Sciences students at the University of Glasgow are vital to the success of our long-term partnership with local high schools. Since the inception of the International Green Academy, we’ve been joined my amazing volunteers who have helped dig, plan and deliver lessons, plant potatoes…. and everything in-between! Outdoor learning is a collective process, and one that benefits students across University and High School populations. After all, the ecological challenges we face demand us to work together to reskill ourselves and our communities.
Our 2020 cohort
Hi! I’m Courtney Walker and I’m a final year Geography student at the University of Glasgow. I have a particular interest in political geography and am extremely passionate about unpacking the issues surrounding social injustice and political ecologies. In October of last year, I had the opportunity to see the early stages of the school garden at Boclair Academy unfold. Even back then, I could already see the potential that this garden has to both empower young people and move towards a more sustainable future. Outdoor learning and interaction with green space is not something I had access to growing up, but I believe it to be an incredible initiative that has the capacity to create a positive change for students and the wider community alike. Through building relationships with the environment, we as individuals, can educate each other on pressing issues our planet faces such as our changing climate and can provide a safe space for students to improve their health and mental well-being. It was amazing to hear at the Ecological Justice Workshop in October on how schools in Arizona have integrated school gardens and I am excited to see and be part of positive change in our local community.
From living in a small village in North East England, to undertaking my undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Glasgow, I’ve become acutely aware of the diversity in opportunity for connecting with climate change resilience, available across contrasting rural and urban settings. Despite housing a relatively large amount of green space compared to many cities in the UK, I’ve been saddened by the lack of opportunity to engage with these issues at the local environmental level, offered throughout Glasgow. Something I feel extremely passionate about, is the need to raise awareness of the rising climate crisis we face globally. Though it’s crucial that this be communicated across all societal spheres, in the context of sustainability, I believe this to be a very important issue which in many education systems is currently lacking. I’m therefore hugely inspired by the International Green Academy’s mission to build socially progressive and resilient urban ecologies, via education and communication programmes centred on school garden projects. The missions aim to empower students and their communities by connecting with outdoor learning, exploring issues of environmental justice and sustainability, as well as reconnecting with autonomies of food at the local level, are particularly inspiring features for me personally, and cannot be undervalued. I hope that in my role as a Green Technician, this is something I can engage further with, and create more opportunity for.
My name is Kirsty MacInnes and I will be one of the Green Technicians with the International Green Academy. I am excited to embark on this journey with the International Green Academy, as I believe the implementation of these school gardens can aid, and better, our understanding of not only ourselves, but the world around us in an inclusive and diverse ecological space. In this current ‘anthropogenic’ period, I believe knowledge of our dialectical relationship with the environment is a successful pathway that can aid the production of resilient urban ecologies in the face of climate change, encouraging young adults to engage with their direct outdoor environments. I think that it is important for us to support your schools, by educating younger generations about how processes of climate change are affecting us and how we can retaliate with creative thinking and innovative solutions to create hopeful climate futures. In saying this, it is important to raise youthful population’s ecological confidence and outdoor learning skills to inspire school communities to engage with their outdoor environment. I believe that we Geography students at GUU have a duty to engage with local communities and share their knowledge of sustainable futures in the hope that projects like this can inspire further school communities in a proactive way to engage with ecology in the face of climate change
My name is Agnes and I am a student of geography and politics. I only recently started getting involved with different kinds of green work, but in that time it has helped me feel more hopeful and useful in an everyday life that sometimes seems weighed down by academic expectations and environmental anxiety. To me, school gardens can provide a space where we can grow confidence and empowerment together while building a more just and resilient future. I am looking forward to learning with and from other geography students, lecturers, teachers, and pupils in combining and expanding our knowledges and bridging the gaps between our communities
As a current 4th year student I am looking at ways to practically apply the knowledge gained over the course of my degree, to work towards building a greener future. Last semester, during the Geographies of Food module, I wrote an essay on entomophagy (eating insects) as alternative food system and love the opportunity to explore sustainable alternatives to the current food system. Since then, I have become more and more interested in sustainable food systems, especially in urban agriculture, permaculture, and agroforestry, and the ways that these systems could be applied in a Glaswegian context. This has led me to begin volunteering with a local community garden, to work towards gaining practical knowledge in this area. I also have had voluntary experience working with both Highschool and Primary aged children, and therefore have become very excited by this opportunity to combine these interests and experiences.
I have experience working in gardening projects as, for the past 2 years, I have helped to coordinate community gardening initiatives for migrants on the island of Chios in Greece. This is where I began to realise multitude of benefits – for the individual, the community and the environment – that this form of communal labour can bring about. I went on to focus my undergraduate dissertation on this topic, comparatively researching horticultural projects in rural and urban areas of Scotland. I am excited to be involved with this initiative, as I believe it is really important to ensure children have access to spaces of nature from a young age in order for them to foster meaningful environmental connections. These connections will go on to inform their ecological actions throughout their lives.
It is my belief that experiential learning is key to furthering our creation of sustainable socio-ecological systems. Having worked with farmers to regenerate soils, it is time to work with and for the next generation, as nothing is sustainable if we don’t get the young involved! Creating spaces in which we can connect to our senses, work and coordinate with our peers on common goals, all in an atmosphere of learning and play, enables a deeper understanding of ourselves, our peers and the nature of our surroundings. We learn how to learn, and how to communicate. Ultimately, it is not only about teaching or showing the young, but rather facilitating a space in which we can learn from each other.
Hi, I’m Kristy and I’ll be one of the undergraduate green technicians! My degree is in politics as well as geography, and I’ve always had an interest in looking after a local environment, even at age 6 I was on my primary school’s eco team! Since being at university, I’ve been a volunteer tutor and in my spare time, I work as a lifeguard for swimming lessons. I’m really excited to be applying my geography knowledge to the real world and to learn even more along the way! I can’t wait to get on board with the project, to hopefully help empower people to connect and look after their local environments!
Understanding nature and using that understanding to create something, grow something and then harvest the fruits of that work (quite literally) has always been a major interest of mine. I came to the University of Glasgow to learn about ecology and am currently enrolled for a degree in Earth Science – dealing mostly the abiotic factors of the environment rather than the biotic ones, both of which I find extremely fascinating. Linking my studies of the environment and ecology with hands-on experience in the outdoors sounds like a dream come true! Since coming to Glasgow, my passion for foraging, permaculture and gardening, especially the potential of small-scale urban agriculture, has increased enormously. Taking part in the Green Technician programme is an amazing opportunity for me to learn more about urban gardening and ecology, put this knowledge to good use in the school garden and give me the chance to share that learning experience with the students of Boclair Academy.
Hi my name is Sophie Robinson and I’m in fourth year studying Geography at the University of Glasgow! After I attended the Ecological justice workshop in October 2019, I realised it was a topic that I am very passionate about and was intrigued to learn more about. I am interested in helping to set up spaces that can serve both the local and wider community, not only through providing education and sustainable food but spaces that can be sites for enhancing mental health and wellbeing. Ecological and social justice are such important and contemporary topics in our world today, so I wanted to be part of helping to empower young people and the wider community through this project with local school gardens. I think a project like this is exactly the step forward that our society needs in times of a climate emergency, to provide hopeful urban ecologies for generations to come!
This project is important to me as I want promote and encourages a hopeful (greener) future by showing how local scale initiatives can help combat the climate issue, and gardening is a great way to do this! I am passionate about making the potential of our surrounding environment visible to young people, encouraging their interactivity and develop their passion for the outdoors by showing how we can do this together living in a urban environment.