(List #53) Cross Disciplinary Inspiration

What business schools can learn from design schools about sustainaiblity.

(List #53) Cross Disciplinary Inspiration
Photo by John Jennings / Unsplash

This week’s List is focused on what business schools can learn from fashion schools.

It is school holidays for the next two weeks here in Western Australia. That means that I no longer know what day of the week it is as they have all merged together. Since I had time to sit at my desk this evening and write this up, I’m calling today Monday. Hope your week is going well.

This week I’m sharing some relevant examples from a leading fashion school, London College of Fashion(LCF), part of the University of Arts London (UAL) in the UK. While not a business school per say, they are a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education. If you replace the term fashion with whatever other industry you want, and switch disciplines such as textile design, film and visual arts to marketing, finance and accounting, there are some great inspirations here for business schools. I also would love to see more business schools collaborating with design and art schools within your institutions if you are lucky enough to have them. This will help bring your sustainability focused curriculum to a whole new level.

I’ve had a few requests for a List on university-university collaborations, so I’ll share that one next week. As always, if you have any initiatives you want to share, or lists you want to request, just let me know at gweybrecht@thesustainablemba.com.


1.     COLLABORATIVE CHALLENGE

Collaborative Challenge is a unique opportunity for students to collaborate across disciplines to address challenges, provocations and concepts affecting the fashion landscape by engaging with current research and technologies, industry partners, alumnus and academic partners.  This unique course was the first of its kind at LCF in response to demand from the fashion industry and students themselves wanting to connect with industry partners. Students work in teams to identify social and environmental issues and explore new approaches in response to these. For example, one team worked with Barclays Eagle Labs and Disability Rights UK to “create adaptive clothing that will help reduce pressure sores for the disabled community”. Projects are all featured in short podcasts that can be listened to here.

+ In addition to the collaborative nature of this course, I thought having students present their research in professionally made short podcasts was an interesting way to share findings to a wider audience

2.     VOCABULARY

Ask a dozen people what sustainability means to them, and you will likely get a dozen different answers. To clarify what some of the terms mean in relation to the fashion industry, Conde Nast, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London College of Fashion and the University of Arts London collaborated to create The Sustainable Fashion Glossary. The glossary was developed in collaboration with key industry players and students provide feedback to get a next-gen point of view. The Glossary is a living document. The terms included in this iteration are not exhaustive, and terms will continue to be added on an annual basis.

3.    COMMUNITY WORKSPACES

Poplar Works, supported by LCF, provides an accessible and exploratory environment for undergraduates, alumni, emerging designers, community participants and charities to co-design and engage with real-world issues and translate them into creative practice. They provide a collection of forty affordable spaces in East London for fashion start-ups that cannot afford the high rents in London. LCF provides training, enterprise programmes and manufacturing to support the fashion industry. Poplar Works also hosts Making for Change, two fully equipped workshop that produces units to industry standards across a wide range of products including daywear and home wear. One of the workshops is located inside a women’s prison where the project aims to increase wellbeing and reduce reoffending rates by equipping participants with professional skills.

4.    ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES

The Climate Emergency Network is a growing network of staff and students at UAL launched during lockdown. During COP 26 they organised the Carnival of Crisis in order to demonstrate “how artists, designers and performers can imagine, detail and enact possible – and desirable, scenarios, offering glimpses of alternative systems for all people and all species.” They invited the public and negotiators to step outside the conference halls to explore these new perspectives. One workshop explored microplastics through a dual lens of art and science. The network also curates annual collections by graduate students that focus on social and environmental solutions.

5.   SEEDS

FashionSEEDS (Fashion Societal, Economic & Environmental Design-led Sustainability) is a European collaborative network of fashion universities, led by CSF. The project focuses on the development of a holistic framework for tutors in design-led fashion and sustainability education. It has created a digital learning platform with sustainability teaching material enablers for educators to adapt and apply the framework and to develop their own reflective practice.  This includes a range of curriculum design scenarios as well as links to the best relevant tools developed throughout the industry. The team have also published a number of reports with their learnings including a look at the type of sustainability skills future graduates will need.

6. THE FUTURE OF FASHION

Whether you are interested in fashion or not, discussions taking place in one industry can influence and inspire actions in others. The University of Arts London offers a number of MOOCs focused on the sustainable future of fashion. The first, Fashion and Sustainability: Understanding Luxury Fashion in a changing world explores the issues, agendas and context surrounding fashion and sustainability with a focus to develop strategies to improve the industry. A second course, Fashion Values, explores biodiversity in the context of fashion and identifies how dominant damaging systems of fashion production and consumption can be transformed to protect natural life on our planet.

7. THE SDG’S INSPIRING NEW BUSINESS

After working for luxury clothing brands in Europe, designer Bobby Kolade returned to Uganda to start a new clothing brand called Return to Sender. The brand upcycles Uganda’s second-hand clothing into new luxury goods that are then sold back to the countries where the second-hand clothing originally came from (e.g., US, South Korea and the UK). Each item of clothing has a passport label with information on the source and origin of the second-hand material used. Today, in Accra some 15 million used garments pour into the city every week, most ending up in landfills and decimating local textile businesses. The brand aims to return Uganda’s textile industry to the peak levels.


“Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time” — Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft

THINGS TO CLICK ON

MBA Educate has a new brief introducing Measuring Financed Emissions.

The World Health Organisation Civil Society Working Group has released a letter calling on academia to ensure professionals doing into health professions fully understand climate change.

The SDG Accord Progress Report 2022 is out with many case studies

Carbon Targets summarizes targets publicly made by UK universities (and updates them to make sure they are acting on these!)

Countries have unanimously adopted the Lisbon Declaration on Ocean Conservation

Sweden sends just 1% of its trash to landfills

Consider having a conversation with a stranger

Cannes Lions is on and showcasing the best of global advertising. Check out this video where a pro-gun lobbyist was invited to give a graduation speech to 3000+ empty chairs representing the students killed this year by guns in the US.

THINGS TO SIGN UP FOR

Tomorrow is the last day to apply for the Green Gown Awards Australasia