Sustainable design courses win Green Gown Award


New Delhi: For the third year in a row, Victoria University of Wellington has been honoured with a prestigious Australasian award for its sustainability leadership—this year for its sustainable design curriculum.

The Green Gown Awards recognise sustainability best practice across the Australasian tertiary education sector and are highly competitive.

The University’s winning project was awarded top prize in the ‘learning, teaching & skills’ category for a curriculum developed by Tonya Sweet, Senior Lecturer in Design for Social Innovation at the University’s School of Design, that focuses on teaching students skills to apply ‘design thinking’ and creative approaches in navigating sustainability challenges.

“Design thinking is a really appropriate process in navigating complex issues such as sustainability, and it’s necessary to empower students to be positive agents of change. The way we do that is by engaging them in an atmosphere where they can actually make changes in their community,” says Ms Sweet.

Among the projects students have produced for the courses are apps that promote sustainable behaviour, awareness campaigns, and a card game that engages young adults about the Sustainable Development Goals that is now being used by United Nations Youth New Zealand to educate the next generation of sustainability leaders.

“Young people don’t have to be climate scientists to address sustainability challenges. They can use critical and creative thinking skills in activating positive change. I think this award highlights the important role design can play.”

This project is now eligible for the International Green Gown Awards, which the University won last year in the ‘benefiting society’ category for one of its leadership programmes.

“Victoria University of Wellington is a leader in sustainability in the university sector in Australasia and it is wonderful to once again be recognised for our work in this area,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford.

“Sustainability is a key focus in our teaching and research, so it is particularly pleasing to receive this award for our work helping prepare students to address the sustainability challenges we all now face.”