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Runway to COP26

Sustainability in the Creative and Cultural Industries Symposium

RGU is committed to delivering the knowledge and skills required to ensure a sustainable future for all. This symposium explored sustainability across creative industry disciplines.

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As part of RGU’s Creative Conversations for COP26, the Sustainability in the Creative and Cultural Industries symposium addressed issues of sustainability across architecture, art, communications, computing, data, design, events, fashion, hospitality, journalism, marketing, media, product development, and tourism.

A daily programme of live-streamed and pre-recorded content was available from 4-8 October 2021, exploring both subject-specific and collaborative perspectives.

Monday 4 October 

11:00 - 11:30

Student and alumni engagement around issues of sustainability in the fashion sector

Over the past ten years there has been increasing concern around the fashion industry and its impact on our environment. In the past 3 years, we have seen an increased awareness of this issue across our student body and amongst our graduates. This session will explore some of the ways in which students and alumni are engaging with sustainable fashion initiatives in their research and careers.

13:00 - 13:30

(RGU) Purple is the New Green

This live talk introduces an Emerging Stronger project funded by DELTA that focuses on developing academic and student understanding of sustainability in relation to RGU’s Net Zero actions and the UN’s SDGs to support embedding of sustainability narratives within RGU courses.

Passcode: bJW45e*f


Creative Entrepreneurship: Planet before profit

Debunking the assumption that all business is about product, profit and high growth, there is a strong trend amongst our students identifying sustainability as an underpinning ethos for their business, and circular economy as an aspiration for their future practice. Hilary Nicoll and Sally Charles will discuss some case studies and ask, how can we better support creative entrepreneurs to achieve this?

Passcode: Ld$5j2Yw

Tuesday 5 October

16:00  - 17:00

Keynote with Land Art Generator Initiative

The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) is an international art, design and place-making meets renewables engineering programme> working through international open design competitions and bespoke local projects LAGI has engaged hundreds of teams to develop innovative approaches to energy generating art and design. This event will comprise a lecture by LAGI Directors Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry followed by a discussion chaired by Chris Fremantle (Gray’s School of Art).

Wednesday 6 October

11:00 - 11:30

Enchanted landscapes, peculiar stories and sustainable curiosities

This live talk will examine the potential of supernatural stories in a contemporary world to challenge our understanding of landscapes and cultural heritage. By considering the opportunities and challenges posed by the telling of supernatural stories it is proposed that a folklore-centric gaze can offer a unique approach to tackling issues of sustainability through re-enchantment, education and curiosity. 

12:30 - 14:00

Conversation with Kevin Keane, Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Correspondent at BBC Scotland, hosted by Lynne Mennie, Lecturer

A live conversation with Kevin Keane, BBC Scotland’s Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Correspondent. Kevin will discuss his role as an environmental journalist, and COP26, which will be the focus of his reporting for the next few months. Kevin will talk about the background to the conference, its importance to Scotland and the world, all the ancillary events which are built around it, and how he will report on it, followed by a student Q&A.

  • Guest speaker - Kevin Keane, Environmental Journalist
  • Host - Lynne Mennie - Lecturer

Meeting ID: 830 0412 8169
Passcode: 382945

Thursday 7 October

11:00 - 12:00

Constructing the Environment Sustainably and Ethically

Dr Fiona Smith and Dr Fiona McKay will discuss some of the ways the environment has been constructed in media and popular discourse over time before guiding participants through a short workshop about constructing the environment ethically, looking at recent media case studies of best and worst practice.

Meeting ID: 815 468 5111
Passcode: 815468

13:00 - 14:00

Post Covid: A Crossroads for Sustainable Tourism

This live session will address some of the sustainability challenges - and opportunities - facing the wider tourism industry as the world aims to move out of the worst of the covid19 pandemic. Will there be a sustainability focused reset within the industry? Or will short memories and a clamour for travel and revenue see a missed opportunity?

Meeting ID: 841 5748 5869
Passcode: 226168

14:00 - 15:00

What is Circularity?

This live knowledge bite for business session discusses with thought leaders, designers, manufacturers, and public body organisations what circularity means to them. The pre-recorded session will be followed by a 10-min live Q&A session.,

Friday 8 October

10:00 - 10:30

Where do we go from here? Arts ecologies and sustaining a practice.

The presentation will focus on exploring the arts ecology of Aberdeen. Where do we go from here? is part of a series of conversations inviting contributions from those contributing to the visual arts sector in Aberdeen in October 2021. The presentation will include existing research as well as the critical framing of the new public programme. 

11:00 - 12:00

Hemp Futures

Products include textiles, papers, building materials, and foods including bread & beer. Environmentally friendly, sequestering carbon, replenishing the soil and killing weeds. Can be sown to remediate contaminated land. With contributions from Wendy Russell from the Rowett Institute at Aberdeen University and collaborating arts organisations including the Barn and Lynne Hocking Mennie from Applied Arts Scotland this session will open up the creative potential of hemp and explore the multiple aspects of materials that need to be considered for sustainability.


Sustainability: The Brand - 20 Mins

This pre-recorded presentation sets out to encourage debate about how visual communication functions in the area of sustainable design. Environmental goals are widely promoted for the therapeutic value they add to cultural and material production practices. Therefore, it seems worthwhile to evaluate the practical impacts of the visual rhetoric of ecological design. The focus is on micro-level comparison of representative cases. Conclusions derived from this evidence can then be applied to address the risk, identified by Dauvergne, of creating reified "shadows of consumption". The core issue is to investigate if eco-design operates as an eco-business that encourages rather than suppresses untenable consumption habits.

Passcode: h@%8sQz0

Developing Sustainable Design Practices within the textile industry  - 30 Mins

Josie Steed in conversation with textile design graduate Beth Wilson discussing her career to date. Beth graduated from the Heriot Watt University, Scottish College of Textiles specialising in woven textiles. After graduation Beth worked as a designer with Johnston’s of Elgin. She has recently started as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate in partnership with RGU and Harris Tweed Hebrides.

  • Josie Steed – Senior Lecturer & Design Researcher 
  • Beth Wilson - KTP Associate with Harris Tweed Hebrides

Virtual fitting or home fitting? - 20 Mins

An exploration of the possible sustainability impacts of virtual try-on technologies, in relation to the behaviours of people returning clothes purchased online after trying them on them at home.

Sheaf – an online photography exhibition

An online photography exhibition of ancient and heritage crops by Anne Campbell as part of a collaboration with The Dark Mountain Project and Hodmedods - an award-winning small business working with UK farmers to support and encourage the transition to an agroecological food system

Sustainability Development Goals Visual Bites - 20 Mins

A Pecha Kucha style presentation by Beth Wilson on a personal interpretation of the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals.

  • Beth Wilson - KTP Associate with Harris Tweed Hebrides

Cultivating Ecological Thinking: how fine art students engage with the politics of ecology and sustainability in their Critical and Contextual studies - 30 Mins

This presentation will report on the range of ways that fine art students (from Stage 3 and 4) have engaged with the politics of ecology and sustainability in their Critical and Contextual Studies (CCS). It will present examples across students’ creative practices, and academic research, exploring how they have responded to key themes that the CCS programme at Gray’s addresses.

Passcode: ?+q3*5mV 

Sustainability – are you living comfortably? - 1 Hour

A pre-recorded discussion about sustainability within the built environment with a focus on building occupants, their well-being, comfort and affordability of fuel.

Data Commons Scotland - 20 Mins

This short presentation will provide an overview of Data Commons Scotland. Data Commons Scotland is an EPSRC-funded project bringing together issues around open data, digital platform design and the circular economy. The project explores how open data is accessed by a range of stakeholders and acknowledges that for data to be truly “open”, it needs to be more than just accessible. The project asks - How can we design technologies that go beyond simply making data publicly accessible, and instead open up data to effective, innovative and potentially transformative public use?

The project is led by Stirling University with co-investigators from Abertay and RGU. The project focuses on open data which relates to waste management and is developed in partnership with The Data Lab, ODI, Stirling Council, Zero Waste Scotland and SEPA.

Promoting local sustainability: The Compass Project - 20 Mins

This presentation explores the Compass Project in Aberdeen.

Augmented Fashion: using technology to develop sustainable fashion practices and consumption - 30 Mins

This presentation explores how the fashion industry is adopting digital technologies to reduce waste in design and development processes, and highlights the potential for immersive technologies in communicating messages of authenticity and sustainability to the contemporary fashion consumer.

  • Dr Yang Jiang - Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Karen Cross - Academic Strategic Lead
  • Josie Steed - Senior Lecturer & Design Researcher

Solving the cashmere knitwear crisis - 20 Mins

An exploration of sustainability issues affecting the cashmere industry.

*This document is not currently accessibility compliant.

USE-LESS Centre for Sustainable Strategies - 30 Mins

What can designers do to promote the transformation of the fashion system? The fashion department of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hanover will present their activities within sustainable strategies. The opportunities, current projects and their developments at the USE-LESS Centre will be discussed. Their Slow Fashion criteria is discussed in relation to the USE-LESS exhibition together with their exchange and partnerships with Scottish universities including RGU and Heriot Watt University

  • Josie Steed – Senior Lecturer and Design Researcher

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