In conversation with LCF Climate Advocates
- Written byJ Igiri
- Published date 22 December 2022
Climate Advocates play a key role in raising awareness of the Climate Emergency. Their work contributes to a curriculum that situates social and environmental sustainability at the heart of everything we do at London College of Fashion.
We spoke with three Climate Advocates to find out more about their experiences in the role.
Eleanor is a BA (Hons) Costume for Performance graduate and a Climate Advocate for the School of Media and Communication. They are currently a maker running a business called ‘fluid’ – a sustainable, size inclusive clothing brand. Eleanor also works freelance in Costume.
Ranaya is currently enrolled on BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear and works for the School of Design and Technology (SDT) as their Climate Advocate. This helps Ranaya approach and analyse the various courses within SDT with a climate justice lens.
Roberta is a Climate Advocate for the Fashion Business School who graduated from MA Fashion Design Management in September 2022. Roberta currently works at BEEN London, a fashion company that produces accessories completely from waste, as an Impact Intern. Specifically, Roberta calculates the social and environmental impact of the products and the company, suggesting possible improvements. In addition, Roberta has a background in business and management.
Why did you sign up to be a Climate Advocate?
ELEANOR: I signed up to be a Climate advocate as sustainability and climate justice are at the core of who I am as a practitioner. I graduated in 2020 and my experience at university was one of trying to be as sustainable as possible. So, I knew that I could bring a lot of first-hand experience in university to the role, as well as my own personal knowledge as a practitioner after university.
RANAYA: I believe education plays a huge role in shaping the future, and although I wish to be a part of the fashion industry, I believe it doesn't hold a future if things continue the way they are. By embedding climate justice principles within the minds of younger designers, I believe an important shift in the way fashion is approached will take place at a more grass roots level. Thus, this opportunity was perfect for me to help do that in my own small way.
ROBERTA: I’ve always been very passionate about climate justice in the fashion industry, and the role that institutions can play to increase environmental standards and the well-being of people involved in the whole supply chain. I believe that university might be the place where students lay the foundations of their future professional and personal choices, and therefore an occasion to build an understanding of the social, racial and environmental issues of the industry.
Can you tell us about the role – what are your responsibilities?
ELEANOR: I’ve had a very positive experience in my role as the Performance Programmes climate advocate. My main responsibility is to be a representative for students regarding sustainability and climate justice in the curriculum. This involved gathering information from the students about their experiences, then communicating this with the programme leader as well as some course leaders, who have all been very involved in implementing sustainability into the curriculum already. I then went on to audit the course handbooks to see what aspects of sustainability are already present and what can be improved. The role was very fresh last year – this school year a lot has been developed upon and the way we will audit the handbooks has been made more official and universal.
RANAYA: As a Climate Advocate, my responsibility is to look into the courses within the School of Design and Technology with a climate, social, and racial justice lens. By going through the course handbooks, and gathering student feedback through focus groups and surveys, I come up with potential changes for each course. Moreover, by having an open conversation about my findings with the program leader, we hope to make a positive impact in the course re-approval process.
ROBERTA: My responsibilities mainly include being the point of contact between students and university staff, to give voice to the ideas and feedback of students about climate justice in their courses. Also, I audited the course handbooks and the unit briefs to gain an understanding of how climate justice is taught, and how it is aligned with the UAL Principles for Climate, Social and Racial Justice. Finally, I collaborate with professors in the process of course reapproval to connect climate, social and racial justice to the discipline.
What did you learn from the experience?
ELEANOR: I learnt that a lot has improved in the performance programme regarding sustainability since I graduated in 2020. I learnt a lot about how other students feel about sustainability in their courses, how it’s growing and still has a way to go.
RANAYA: This experience has given me the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, and I really enjoy learning more about climate justice from other climate advocates and their experiences. Learning more about these issues through lectures and research is also something that has helped me become more considerate in my design process.
ROBERTA: I improved my ability to communicate with professors, and to deal with the anxiety of collaborating with senior members of staff.
What advice or insight can you share for the next group of Climate Advocates?
ELEANOR: The main insight/advice I can give future Climate advocates is to build strong relationships with your programme leaders and any other course tutors/leaders involved. They will help to guide you to be specific in what information you source, the questions you ask and where to ask them. You can work as a team to make sure that sustainability is being represented in a way that is helpful and positive.
RANAYA: For the next group, I would say the best thing would be to find more creative ways to gain student feedback. As most people don't end up filling out online surveys, having in person conversations and panel discussions would be the best way to approach it!
ROBERTA: Be critical of what you read, hear and learn – the majority of the issues of the fashion industry are wicked and intertangled between each other, and solutions to problems might change depending on the circumstances.