Research Output
Using an Outdoor Learning Space to Teach Sustainability and Material Processes in HE Product Design
  The world is facing environmental changes that are increasingly affecting how we think about manufacturing, the consumption of products and use of resources. Within the HE product design community, thinking and designing sustainability’ has evolved to become a natural part of the curriculum. Paradoxical as the rise in awareness of sustainability increases there is growing concern within HE product design of the loss of workshop facilities and as a consequence a demise in teaching traditional object-making skills and material experimentation. We suggest the loss of workshops and tangible ‘learning by making skills’ also creates a lost opportunity for a rich learning resource to address sustainable thinking, design and manufacture ‘praxis’ within HE design education. Furthermore, as learning spaces are frequently discussed in design research, there seems to be little focus on how the use of an outdoor environment might influence learning outcomes particularly with regard to material teaching and sustainability.

This 'case study' of two jewellery workshops, used outdoor learning spaces to explore both its impact on learning outcomes and to introduce some key principles of sustainable working methodologies and practices. Academics and students mainly from Norway and Scotland collaborated on this international research project. Participants made models from disposable packaging materials, which were cast in tin, in the sand on a local beach, using found timber to create a heat source for melting the metal. This approach of using traditional making skills, materials and nature was found to be a relevant contribution to a sustainable discourse.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper

  • Date:

    13 October 2016

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  • Publisher


  • DOI:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education


Firth, R., Stoltenberg, E., & Jennings, T. (2016). Using an Outdoor Learning Space to Teach Sustainability and Material Processes in HE Product Design. International Journal of Art and Design Education, 35(3), 327-336.



Materials; sustainability; learning space; international collaboration; ecology;material experimentation

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