Students from the Social and Environmental Accounting undergraduate course at Heriot-Watt University were last week awarded a series of cash prizes for their innovative sustainability reports aimed at exploring social and environmental issues around the future development of the University's Edinburgh campus.
The students uniquely used data provided to them by the University Estates Department, Human Resources, Academic Registry and Transition Heriot-Watt to produce a series of Social and Environmental Reports on sustainability as a major part of their course assessment. Working in teams, the students collaborated together to produce the reports before jointly presenting them to a committee of experts from the School of Management and Languages. The best reports received prizes sponsored by international savings and investment company, Standard Life, and via the QAA's current Enhancement Theme, 'Developing and Supporting the Curriculum'.
Dr Thereza Sales De Aguiar, Lecturer in Accountancy at Heriot-Watt University who set up the course envisaged that this type of assessment would benefit the students in two ways. She said, " In producing the sustainability reports, the students learnt about social and environmental issues by working on a real case scenario: their own University. At the same time, the exercise required them to practice their written and oral communication skills and develop team working abilities, all of which will contribute to their employability when they graduate and move into the workplace in Scotland and beyond".
Prize-winning student, Christopher Ryan, explained "The report allowed us to examine, in detail, the facts about Heriot-Watt University's social and environmental impact. The results from this analysis demonstrate the positive correlation between the measures that have been put in place, both environmentally and socially, over the last 5 years and the positive outcomes that have occurred."
The students learnt about social and environmental issues by working on a real case scenario: their own University. At the same time, the exercise required them to practice their written and oral communication skills and develop team working abilities, all of which will contribute to their employability when they graduate and move into the workplace in Scotland and beyondDr Thereza Sales De Aguiar, Lecturer in Accountancy
The Heriot-Watt Social and Environmental Report assessment exercise forms part of a larger project on "Employability, Scholarship and Education Enhancement" currently being run across Heriot-Watt University with dedicated funding from the Quality Enhancement Agency (QAA). David Finn, Fanny Chouc and Josephine Bisacre, academic staff from the School of Management and Languages, are working with colleagues from the School of Built Environment, Dr Fiona Grant, and School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Dr Gillian Thomson, as well as collaborators from the Careers Service and the Library, on a variety of new, interdisciplinary learning and teaching projects. Speaking on behalf of the Employability Scholarship and Education Enhancement Project group, Josephine Bisacre, Senior Teaching Fellow, School of Management and Languages said, "The intended outcome of the QAA-funded 'Employability, Scholarship and Education Enhancement' project at Heriot-Watt University is to develop School models of best practice that can ultimately be communicated across the University and wider academic community. This is hoped to lead to a more diverse learning and teaching environment, enhanced graduate attributes and a stronger connection between the academic and out-of-class communities (eg. Industry and professional bodies)".
Potential synergies between the projects will be further fostered via joint meetings of Heriot-Watt's Enhancement Theme Group supported by Academic Enhancement. Commenting on the progress of the projects, Dr Ruth Neiland, Head of Academic Enhancement said, "The Social and Environmental Accounting Report project is an excellent example of how introducing a novel assessment exercise can enhance students' learning experience and provide additional opportunities to hone valuable employability skills for the development of their future careers. Colleagues leading the Enhancement Theme projects across the University are to be commended for their initiative and drive in taking these projects forward and sharing good practice in embedding innovative approaches to curriculum development."
For further details of the Social and Environmental Accounting course, contact: Dr Thereza Sales de Aguiar, School of Management and Languages, Heriot-Watt University.
For further details of AE support for the 'Developing the Curriculum Enhancement Theme' at Heriot-Watt University, contact Dr Ruth Neiland, Head of Academic Enhancement.