Collaborative Leadership for Sustainability

This course, run by Michelle Virgo of Growing Sustainable Futures CIC for the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre at Plymouth University is the result of an international collaboration of people working for sustainability, particularly in communities that are being affected by climate change. It’s a unique programme, based on the skills and knowledge of people already leading for sustainability and key themes include identity, resilience, values, connectedness and global citizenship.

The programme consists of six workshops between October 2015 and February 2016 and uses an action learning approach. It is free to Plymouth University students and alumni and has been extended to Plymouth-based sustainability activists with a £50 fee. There are six sessions, mostly on Saturdays between 24th October 2015 and 27th February 2016. We are also running a parallel programme with a community in the far north of Canada and hope to make it possible to connect participants on the two programmes.

Sustainability includes social, environmental and economic sustainability, so anyone involved in community initiatives, such as young people’s projects, food banks, energy efficiency, community composting; in fact anything that contributes towards the well-being of the community is welcome to participate. If you would like to know more, read one of the blogs from last year’s course or contact Michelle.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course you will:

  • Understand what is meant by sustainability, complexity and “wicked problems” and made some links between sustainability and social justice or fairness at home and abroad
  • Have learnt about some theories of leadership and thought about your own leadership style
  • Know what helps and hinders collaborative working and have further developed your skills as a collaborative leader
  • Have considered your own identity and values and understand how these things affect the way people behave
  • Understand how relationships with others and self-awareness can contribute to the success of a collaborative venture and have learnt some tools for developing these
  • Have found out about, and learnt from, collaborative communities for sustainability in other parts of the world

Course Leaders

Michelle Virgo has a degree in Environmental Science and has led a variety of community and environmental projects. She was a facilitator with Plymouth worker co-operative, Zebra Collective, for nine years and Chair of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network for two. More recently, she has worked at Plymouth University researching sustainability in business. She is currently carrying out research into the significance of values for sustainability communication and the use of technology in cross-cultural communication and learning.

Enrico Wensing is based at the University of the Virgin Islands and is Associate Professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. His research looks at the skills and experience of community leaders for sustainability and he leads on the US National Science Foundation funded project on which this course is based. Enrico will be contributing to the delivery of most of the programme by video link.

Research project

You will have the opportunity to contribute to research into leadership development for sustainability by filling in a questionnaire at the beginning and end of the course. This is optional and will be fully explained at the beginning of the programme.

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