As part of the students as co-creators project, students from the University of Westminster’s Climate Action Network (WestCAN) hosted the official launch of the Climate Studio Sessions with a panel discussion event on Friday 9 April.
WestCAN is a student climate action group which aims to challenge the university and make courses more climate literate. It forms part of the students as co-creators project, an initiative which provides opportunities and resources for students and staff to work together on research projects and enhance teaching and learning at Westminster. The team is comprised of third year Architecture BA Honours students Maisie Spencer, Gabriela MacAllister and Vilde Stadtler Myrhaug, Architecture MA students Helen Windsor and Fin Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Architecture Dr Paolo Zaide, and Visiting Lecturer at the School of Architecture + Cities Ben Pollock.
The Climate Studio Sessions aim to increase awareness of the climate emergency and explore how this can be discussed within course modules through collaboration between students and tutors. The sessions are structured to encourage discussion and collaboration, involving a range of panel discussions, Q&A sessions and to work on new and creative solutions for climate action.
The sessions form part of the group’s wider research, which is testing a new lecture structure where students and educators are given the opportunity to discuss the climate emergency amongst their peers and form questions to ask speakers directly in an open conversation. Through allocating more time for discussion built into the lecture, attendees were able to engage with the given topic on a more informal and personable level. This new lecture structure proved to be highly successful and many attendees commented they preferred the structure over normal lectures.
The panel discussion on 9 April welcomed Founder of the Anthropocene Architecture School, Scott McAulay, Planner and Urban Designer Ross O’Ceallaigh, and architect, writer and lecturer Nana Biamah-Ofosu. In his address, Scott McAulay spoke about his work as a climate activist to tackle the climate crisis, as well as discussing the realities of the climate emergency that we are facing across the globe. Ross O’Ceallaigh spoke about systems thinking and its application to urban design, while Nana Biamah-Ofosu discussed the culture of waste and the need for historic cultural practice in developing proposals.
The event included two Q&A sessions attending students and educators discussed and reflected upon what they learned, and also had the opportunity to ask questions on a variety of topics including carbon literacy, net zero and the use of sustainable materials.
Talking about the event series, Fin Johnson, Architecture MA student and one of the event organisers, said: “The idea for the event was born out of a workshop where students were asked to reflect on how to make our course more climate literate. The series then came to fruition with a dedicated team of students and tutors from different courses working together.
“By broadening the content that is covered in lectures, we are able to gain a more holistic perspective of the reality of the climate emergency. Our hope is that having a lecture series where there is more time to question the material learned, we will help bring about the cultural shift needed to properly address the climate crisis.”
Talking about the panel event, an attendee added: “The speakers had a broad range of topics on which they spoke about, and the break out rooms were great as they allowed for everyone to share their opinion in a comfortable manner. I hope there will be an entire series like this, it was great!
Find out more about the Students as Co-creators project.