2021 Conference Oral presentations 1-4

Session recording (UoY Panopto login required)

Flood Week: Integrating York Strengths into a taught module for Environment and Geography Students

Jenny Pollard, Tamsyn Kiss and Brett Sallach; Environment and Geography


The Flood Control Course (Flood Week), a week-long interactive module in the Environment and Geography department for first year undergraduates, has been used for several years to combine employability skills with topical learning. Students work as part of a ‘company’ to develop innovative solutions to York’s flooding. Throughout the week, the scenario evolves, culminating in a presentation of their solutions to peers, module convenors, and representatives from York City Council and the Environment Agency. 

In 2020, Flood Week had two firsts: Flood Week was delivered online, and York Strengths took the place of the initial ice breaking event. Students undertook the York Strengths online course to identify their key strengths and were encouraged to bring those strengths to the group work, considering whether they were authentic communicators, agile learners, or problem solvers. This was supported by daily video reminders of the skills they would be developing that day, tailored to the day’s activities and the changing scenario. 

Of the 114 students who engaged with the module, 76% completed the York Strengths online course. Students who took part in the integrated York Strengths and Flood Control Course have used their identified strengths in their CVs and cover letters, in addition to using the module itself as an example of team working to complete a task. We plan to maintain the combination of Flood Week and York Strengths, building these concepts of employability skills into the student experience early to allow and encourage student growth throughout their degrees. 

Recording: Link to presentation start

Industrial Project: Providing Software and IT services to organizations serving the public interest

Dimitris Dranidis, Computer Science, CITY College, University of York Europe Campus


A fundamental aspect of the programmes of the Computer Science Department, CITY College, University of York Europe Campus is to provide students with opportunities to work with real clients. The Industrial Project is a credit bearing module offered at the final year of our UG and PGT programmes, with the aim to enhance the employability profile of students. Students work in teams on real-life projects provided by external clients. 

Team-work on a software development project provides an opportunity to students to apply the skills and knowledge they have acquired during their studies to a realistic problem. Students are exposed to contemporary software development processes and tools, familiarize themselves with the practices followed in the industry, and deal with the challenges of effective communication, collaboration, and time-management, thus building a competitive employability profile. 

Moreover our Department, driven by its commitment to social responsibility, provides via the Industrial Project free of charge IT solutions to charity and non-profit organizations (Alzheimer Hellas, UN International Organisation for Migration, etc.) This initiative aligns with our strategic goal to reach out and work with the wider society in order to strengthen relationships with local communities. 

The presentation aims to discuss details about the delivery and the assessment methods of the module, the role of the module leader and how we handle all the challenges that emerge, such as collaboration issues within student groups, communication  with the client, from setting and agreeing on the project, up to the delivery of the final product by the students.

Recording: Link to presentation start

Faculty opinions regarding the incorporation of systems thinking into undergraduate chemistry education

Alice Jackson and Glenn Hurst; Chemistry


Research suggests that systems thinking is beneficial to education. It has been proposed that training students using systems thinking techniques may enhance their abilities to work on interdisciplinary projects to understand and solve some of the global grand challenges that society currently faces as outlined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. However, before systems thinking can be incorporated into chemistry education, the perceptions of the instructors who would adopt this framework must be investigated. Therefore, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 instructors from the Department of Chemistry at the University of York. Responses were analysed using both qualitative (framework method) and quantitative (Likert-style) techniques. The instructors expressed positive opinions of systems thinking as all participants stated that systems thinking techniques should be implemented into the undergraduate chemistry curriculum to some extent. Examples of anticipated advantages include benefits to student learning, the facilitation of interdisciplinary teaching/learning and enhanced student employability prospects. Research has suggested that curriculum reform is only successful with support from instructors and so these positive opinions of systems thinking from participants with expertise from a variety of areas within chemistry show great promise for the prospect of future implementation.

Recording: Link to presentation start

Futures thinking, interdisciplinary workshops in the Department of Environment and Geography

Claire Hughes, Laura Chapman, Jo Cruz and Dean Walters; Environment and Geography


During the autumn term 20/21 members of the Teaching and Scholarship Team in the Department of Environment and Geography ran a series of extracurricular futures thinking, interdisciplinary workshops which were intended as a trial run for a summative module. Students from all levels and programmes were invited to join the workshops and work in interdisciplinary teams to define a future 3R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) vision for the City of York or University, and design innovations that would help us to move towards the future vision.  The workshops, which were held predominantly online, introduced students to frameworks for visioning, current state analysis, scenario construction, stakeholder analysis, transitioning and planning. The capstone activity was a student-led conference involving key stakeholders from the University, York City Council, business, community groups and community interest companies at which student groups presented their ideas. 

During this talk we will present further details of this initiative, and share student outputs and feedback from students and stakeholders. We will also share our thoughts on developing this activity as a summative module, and how that will contribute to our plans for moving towards a ‘solutions-based’ pedagogy.

Recording: Link to presentation start

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s