Expanding Communities of Sustainable Practice

15 October 2016

We are excited to announce a one day symposium at Leeds College of Art focusing on how to expand communities of sustainable practice within and beyond art and design schools.

Given the need for art and design education to transform its mode of operating in times of massive ecological crises, the symposium is an opportunity to learn from cases of good practice, to get feedback on one’s initiatives and to network with others who are eager to make art and design education an effective advocate of sustainable practice.

Communities of sustainable practice are groups or networks of educators, designers, artists, craftspeople, researchers and students who aim to place sustainability concerns at the heart of their practice. Through the symposium we want to provide a space for people involved in such initiatives to effectively network and strategise together in order to enhance the positive impact and reach of what they do.

Aims & objectives

During this one day symposium, we want to focus on the importance of collaboration and networks in creating art and design practices that contribute to eco-social sustainability. We are especially interested in expanding the notions of sustainability within art and design education and how they contribute to engaging the public in sustainable and progressively transformative eco-social practices.

As we are convinced that sustainability is also about meshing up and intersecting practice and theory, the day will span from theoretical to practical engagements with sustainability - always with a focus on making this day productive in terms of building alliances, projects and shared commitments between the people attending. 

Who for?

The symposium especially invites people active within art and design schools on sustainability fostering initiatives: tutors, students, technicians, administrators, researchers and more. 


09.30 - 10.00     Registration, Refreshments & Networking

10.00 - 10.10     Welcome/Introduction

10.15 - 11.30     Keynote Speakers:

                              Steve Connor, Creative Concern

                              Lizzie Harrison, RCA Sustain

11.30 - 11.45     Coffee

11.45 - 12 45     Parallel Presentation/Discussion Sessions

12.45 - 13.30     Lunch and Networking

13.30 - 14.30     Keynote Speaker: Terry Irwin, Carnegie Mellon University.

14.30 - 15.30     Parallel Presentation/Discussion Sessions

15.30 - 16.00     Plenary & Close


Keynote speakers

Steve Connor, CEO Creative Concern

Steve co-founded Creative Concern in 2002 in the belief that inventive, high impact communications could help to make the world a better place. Fourteen years on and he works with a team of 30 people who prove the case. Whether its transforming the image of a place, combatting climate change, fighting food waste or finding foster parents, strong campaign and branding solutions are key.


Lizzie Harrison, Sustain RCA

Lizzie is SustainRCA’s fashion and textiles sustainability guru, bringing her expertise in up-cycling, materials efficiency, co-design and community-led action to both commercial businesses and students at the College. She regularly consults with private and third sector businesses, as well as universities, schools and colleges across the UK. Lizzie is an experienced designer, researcher and social entrepreneur, matching the needs of manufacturers with the skills of local people.


Terry Irvin, Carnegie Mellon University, Transition Design. 

Terry is the Head of School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research is in the area of design for society and the environment. In particular it explores how principles and behaviour of living systems and Goethean Science can inform a more appropriate and responsible way to design. She has been a practicing designer for more than 40 years and was one of the founding members of MetaDesign, an international design firm with offices in Berlin, London, San Fransisco and Zurich.

Terry will be contributing to the symposium via skype.


Papers to be presented during the parallel discussion sessions will include a range of subjects:

  • Making our Future: ecological arts and sustainable design
  • Visual Communications and speculations: Designing transitions towards a more sustainable future
  • Pedagogy for the real world
  • Linking social design
  • What we think effects what we do – the power of a sustainability curriculum to bring about change
  • Sustainable product design – learning through live projects
  • Changing the stigma that sustainability is limiting
  • The Museum and The Maker: Exploring Sustainable models of education within Craft
  • Walking in Urbana: Sustainable pasts and possible futures
  • Introducing Sustainability to creative employment seeking
  • Japanese Not Weed
  • Sustainable Place Making in a Throw Away Society: Mapping and Transforming Garment Waste

With contributors from: Falmouth University, Huddersfield University, University of Leeds, Leeds College of Art, Sheffield Hallam University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Oslo ACT University College, Plymouth College of Art, Cleveland College of Art, Rive Studios, School of Design, CETYS University, Mexico.


Leeds College of Art
Blenheim Walk
LS2 9AQ Leeds

Symposium fee

£30 - delegate fee for the day

£15 - student delegate

For groups attending with institutional funding, the fee is £30 for the first person and £15 for every additional person.

The fee includes breakfast, refreshments and lunch. In order to pay please go to the College store/shop on LCA’s website:

Click here for student fee

Click here for delegate fee