Collaborative Leadership For Sustainability

This week we have a guest post from Michelle Virgo, Michelle often runs and contributes to our workshop programme. We have previous posts on Collaborative Leadership here, here and here, alongside Beginners Guide to Social Enterprise. If you like the sound of this event and are a Plymouth University Student, please follow this link for more information and to register. 

This will be the third year for the Collaborative Leadership for Sustainability programme. One of the things I particularly like about teaching this course is the way it combines practice and theory – bringing together what works in “real world” settings with current academic research.

On the practice side, the participatory teaching style draws on my experience as a facilitator in organisations and community settings, where my role has been to help people with different views and values work effectively together. This means students get to experience first-hand how it feels to work collaboratively in a diverse group and can then reflect on and learn from that experience to develop their leadership style. For each person, the learning journey is slightly different – and that’s how it should be.

From a theoretical perspective, we will be joined by Enrico Wensing, who is undertaking international research into the competencies of leaders for sustainability. This means that the programme is underpinned by the most up-to-date thinking on the topic and has been able to evolve as the research progresses and our understanding has developed. What’s more, we get to link up with cohorts of students who are taking the programme elsewhere in the world. This year it will be a group of young people and adults from Rigolet in the far north of Canada.

The course is also open to community-based sustainability leaders and social entrepreneurs from around Plymouth who want to bring a theoretical perspective to their practical experience. This means there are plenty of opportunities to learn from others in a group which encompasses a broad range of worldviews. Taking this idea further, everyone has the opportunity to participate in a sustainability project with a community-based organisation such as Plymouth Food Waste Partnership, Plymouth Energy Community or Transition Plymouth. You won’t be given any reading or assignments to complete, but it’s anticipated that you will try out what you have learned, reflect on your experiences and contribute actively to the group.

I’ve spent much of my working life in a variety of leadership roles in all sorts of sustainability contexts. When I graduated with an Environmental Science degree in 1992 I decided that, instead of pursuing my initial ambition to become a climate scientist, I would focus on the ways people can work together to bring about the changes needed if we are to move to a more sustainable future. This programme is just one of the ways in which I’m still doing that!

If you would like to find out more about the course contact Futures, alternatively we have a listing on the universities events page.

michelle virgo

For more information on Michelle Virgo you can find a short Bio on the Guest Authors page.


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