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Hairdressing heroes

Hairdressing HeroesEducation for Sustainable Development (ESD) is about using education to highlight and address environmental issues such as climate change, population growth, the use of finite resources and social inequality. The Sustainability in the Creative Industries European College project is an example of ESD practice whereby the College partners share knowledge and experience to promote sustainability. At Fife College, one of the exercises to promote sustainability in the hairdressing curriculum has been by using the Hairdressing Heroes workbook. The workbook started as a work placement project with Dumfries and Galloway College as part of my MSc in Carbon Management. As a result of this work I am now the Sustainable Development Adviser in the College and a Project Consultant with the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges. In both roles I aim to promote sustainability in the curriculum across College education in Scotland. I believe there is no area of the curriculum where ESD cannot be incorporated, however work is required to ensure staff have the knowledge and confidence to engage effectively with ESD. Care also needs to be taken to avoid extra pressure on an already overstretched curriculum so that links can be made to existing course provision to incorporate ESD. Through this work I met Christine Laing from Fife College and realised she shared my passion in addressing sustainability issues through education. To help achieve this Christine is determined to build a ‘green salon’ in the College as a valuable teaching resource for hairdressing students. We decided to work together and Christine asked if I would meet with the Hairdressing students to show them links between environmental issues and hairdressing practices and also possible solutions to reducing the environmental impacts of hairdressing. Leading on from this, the students are now working with the Hairdressing Heroes workbook to further their sustainability understanding. This Hairdressing Heroes workbook is designed to be used either directly by students, or by staff to assist them in embedding sustainability within their course delivery. The workbook aims to link sustainability with current hairdressing teaching and practice, where appropriate, but it also addresses other areas of our lives that raise sustainability issues. The workbook also utilises core skills teaching wherever possible, by using activities that incorporate literacy, numeracy and IT skills. These activities can also strengthen employability skills by identifying financial savings by changing hairdressing practices.I was thrilled when Christine asked me if I would present Hairdressing Heroes at the Sustainability in the Creative Industries event in May 2013 at Fife College as it gave me a chance to meet staff and students from the other European partner Colleges. This project is invaluable in sharing experiences as there is always something we can learn from each other to enhance teaching practices and sharing sustainability knowledge is a positive step towards addressing environmental concerns. The Hairdressing Heroes workbook is now being improved through feedback from staff and students by research being conducted in a number of Colleges in Scotland, including Fife College. As the European partners Colleges have also requested access to the workbook this could provide another means of testing the effectiveness of the workbook to incorporate sustainability into hairdressing teaching. Work is now underway to produce sustainability workbooks for other areas of the curriculum and the existing workbooks have also been adapted into online learning resources. The first workbook in the series, Introduction to Sustainability, has also been formally accredited by the Scottish Qualification and Credit Framework. All of this work is taking place at Dumfries and Galloway College; however the feedback received from other Colleges in Scotland and also from the European partner Colleges in the Sustainability in the Creative Industries project, will all help to inform future developments in embedding sustainability into the curriculum. Being part of the European project has given me an opportunity to discuss my ESD work with Colleges I would never have had access to, which I know will prove invaluable to my research. In the long term I hope my research will influence ESD developments in Scottish College education and if this can be shared with other European Colleges through projects such as this then even better. Meanwhile, in the short term, I will assist Christine in any way possible to realise her vision of a ‘green’ hairdressing salon in the College. The ‘green’ salon could provide an example of best practice of incorporating sustainability into hairdressing teaching to be shared with Colleges across Scotland.

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