A sustainable practitioner in… career pathways

Posted on March 17, 2009


We’ve spent the past couple of days integrating discipline-based sustainable practitioner words into generic career pathway statements. 

This has been prompted by the  small resource we’re making that celebrates where we’re going in terms of education for sustainability.   The primary intention is to reinforce momentum for our own staff and to help build credibility with people from “sustainable businesses”.   As with any such resource, it will also become a tool for the liaison team.  To support this latter role, we need to produce sustainable practitioner statements for the career pathways used in marketing material.

 This has been quite a challenge as sustainability requires us to go beyond the surface and look at what it means to be a professional in each career grouping.    We’ve also tried to avoid the circular logic of using the sustainability word. 

We’ve been through a cycle of editing by the departments but there’s probably more to come, so here are the draft career pathway sustainable practitioner statements…  (any thoughts gratefully received). 


First a generic generic statement: A sustainable practioner in …

All graduates need to be aware that their choices, decisions, and actions have an impact on sustainability. Both drivers and impacts cross spatial, temporal, social and ecological scales and ethical boundaries. In addition to technical skills, relating to sustainability for their specific discipline, all graduates are equipped with wider skills: visioning, influencing change, managing information, creativity, innovation. 

Health and Community Careers

A career in the provision of health and community services now requires a holistic approach to working with individuals, groups and communities; a focus on well-being within a wider context of strengths, connections and resilience of community, systems and environment. Working effectively with others is underpinned by self awareness and skills in critical thinking. Nursing expresses this as multidimensional care; Midwifery as an ethos of childbirth as a normal life process and minimisation of unnecessary intervention; Human Services as “social justice and healthy community and individual relationships (including effects of exploitation on local and global economies, peoples, resources and environments); Occupational Therapists have a core belief that humans need to be involved in meaningful activity and that we gain connection to the world we live in via activity.

Creative careers

Creative experimentation is how the mind learns, so our students are encouraged to be resourceful and innovative no matter what field they explore, in Art, Design or Computing. The creative practitioner has a potential impact much bigger than their own footprint. They must be able to evaluate the relative value of their work with an understanding of their role in terms of social and cultural impact as well as the pragmatic elements of the creation such as the use and disposal of materials . New paradigms are emerging and practitioners are taking responsibility for engaging clients and customers in a conversation about the social and environmental impact of their choices and how to integrate sustainable alternatives in their work. Creativity also enables resilience, offering courage and optimism in the face of difficult odds.

Business Careers

The diversity of industries in which practitioners of business operate means that graduates with these skills are likely to be the key drivers of changes towards a sustainable future. To enable businesses to move from ‘unsustainable’ to ‘sustainable’ professionals must take a holistic view of their operations and successfully implement strategies that address social, environmental and cultural issues without damaging their ability to be successful and profitable. This requires specific skills across the spectrum of project management, change management, marketing and problem-solving.

Hospitality Careers

A hospitality practitioner must explore sustainability from both manufacturing and service perspectives, considering what they purchase, where they purchase from, the processes by which they work with produce and the disposal of waste products. A sustainable practitioner will take a systems view, addressing behaviour-change opportunities for themselves, their customers and their partners recognising that sustainability is a result of everyone’s actions, no matter where they are in the business. Self-awareness and personal responsibility is key.

Sport and Adventure Careers

A sustainable practitioner in the sport and adventure industries is engaged in providing quality participative experiences within a sustainable framework of positive outcomes. An active, outdoors ethos, team work, risk management, high levels of planning and a systems approach give rise to holistic understanding of the interplay of social, environmental and cultural factors. Challenges or threats to resources are seen as opportunities to develop new approaches and partnerships that allow people to engage with healthy lifestyles through sport and adventure without adversely affecting their environment or culture. Practitioners drive change through conscious decisions around purchasing and event management locally, nationally and internationally.

Trades and Technical Careers

A sustainable practitioner in the Trades and Technical fields uses their skills to maintain the integrity of local and global biophysical systems to meet the needs of human societies. The tangible nature of their work in managing changes in the environment (primarily physical, but recognising social and economic contexts) in ways that persist for the long term means that these practitioners are at the fore-front of a sustainable future. To achieve these goals they need to solve problems in holistic ways so that solving one problem does not create another. New challenges require new approaches.

Life Sciences Careers

A sustainable practitioner in the life sciences uses best practice within the biophysical domain to create quality services and products over the long term. They take a systems approach to enhance outcomes making use of natural biological cycles, implementing integrated practices that reduce reliance on artificial inputs and responding to new challenges. Responsible stewardship is encouraged to generate economically viable, socially and ecologically sound systems of practice.