The Futures Initiative

Curriculum development centres

The notion of ‘wicked problems’ that face society now and in the future provides underlying concept through which we will seek to enable all programme/disciplinary areas to engage with ESF within the formal curriculum. Wicked problems include are any highly complex issue that can be interpreted and addressed with integrity from a range of discipline perspectives – in our case, those that undermine social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Identification of wicked problems as a focus for curriculum development and student learning have the potential to draw in colleagues in different ways and empower them in the ESF process.  The ‘Futures Initiative’ programme will use a series of development centres (based on our HEA Green Academy experience) to facilitate groups of staff from discipline/programme teams to develop their own innovative curriculum.

The facilitators will draw on their own experience and that of others to nurture and lead development as appropriate; it is recognised that colleagues will undoubtedly want to reformulate and develop their own ‘wicked problems’, which in itself will be a highly constructive process.  The flexibility of this approach is one of its strengths.  The curriculum development centres will also provide staff with personal CPD (e.g. contribution to a proposed Advanced Academic Practice Award) and research opportunities.

The curriculum development centres are currently envisaged as a 2+1(+2) model, with teams having only to commit to two initial meetings (2) during which the initiative will be outlined and teams helped to formulate their own approach and ‘wicked problem’. The teams would then be asked to develop a firmer proposal for curriculum development and a bid for resources (see table below) if they wish to take this further (+1).

Early adopters will be funded, but eventually, all programmes will have to show how they will achieve the University’s strategic aims. At this point the teams may either meet with the others in their development centre or be facilitated separately ((+2)). We will launch two major development centres during early 2011, with five teams of 3-4 (a team may consist, for example, of a programme director, two other staff and a student). Where possible, teams might be cross-disciplinary, representing cross-disciplinary, cross-departmental or even cross-faculty programmes.