A Sustainable Education of Craft in the UK: Crafting Sustainability: Samle and Extra-Curricular Enterprise

Nicola Perren, Ruth Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When obvious deficiencies in the social sphere await action, and when their solution does not require years of training or special experience, one has a responsibility to participate in finding solutions outside the framework of official directives and organizational structures. (Rich, 2004)

Introduction Uncertain times often foster lateral thinking and a more resourceful approach. There is no doubt that action must be taken in order to ensure the craft industry is a sustainable and viable force within the future world economy. Ethically and morally we also need to exploit the inherent nature of sustainable and ecological craft practice.Education is widely recognised within the recently published Craft Blueprint (Creative and Cultural Skills, 2009) as one of the major contributors to and facilitators for the future of the crafts industry. The research highlights a potential 63% growth in this already multi-billion pound industry in the UK. As key providers and stakeholders in this sector, it is relevant to ask:what role should we play to ensure maximum opportunities whilst maintaining the integrity of craftsmanship? Craft and Sustainability research currently being carried out by Plymouth College of Art with support from the National Arts Learning Network (NALN), concurs with thinking currently emerging at the University of Huddersfield and provides a critical reflection on how we have reached our current position in relation to the sustainability of craft practice. It was heartening to see that we shared many of the issues with a community of fellow researchers, and this awareness has enabled us to feel less isolated in seeking solutions and more confident about the approaches we are taking to pursue pedagogic developments in the field of sustainable crafts.At a time when long-standing and reputable craft courses are being 'rationalised,' government and institutional demands continue to expect more from those that survive. For those that do,studio space is at a premium, resources are squeezed and contact hours are often reduced. And yet, despite this erosion, we tend to cope by deft, resourceful strategies, tackling those challenges that are in our capacity to overcome, with the result that levels of student achievement remain high. It is debatable whether the historical decline in resources can sustain the quality of student experience, indeed whether it is morally justifiable or even realistic, to expect more from less. We all share these conditions that significantly shape the context of our subject today.So it is against a familiar background that this paper will present an outline of some positive initiatives currently in place on the Textile Crafts undergraduate course at the University of Huddersfield. The paper will do so by citing particular examples embedded in our curriculum and expose some potential plans to address the need for sustainable futures in relation to pedagogy and student experience.We will begin by sketching the local context of Textile Crafts as a degree within a portfolio of courses in the School of Art, Design and Architecture at Huddersfield, before describing our philosophy for sustainability in Higher Education, and how this is applied in practice: internally through pedagogy and the SAMPLE project, and externally, through extra-curricular enterprise projects. The paper will conclude with an evaluative summary of findings that will influence our plans in educating for a sustainable future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-341
Number of pages10
JournalMaking futures
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sep 2009


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