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Green Gown Award for Global Challenges degree


The success of Brunel University London's cross-College undergraduate degree in Global Challenges has led to a national award that recognises exceptional sustainability initiatives in universities and colleges.

The BASc Global Challenges programme won the 'Next Generation Learning & Skills' category of the 2022 Green Gown Awards for UK & Ireland, announced on 8 November by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) – the environmental and sustainability champion organisation within further and higher education, here and internationally.

With sustainability moving up the agenda for universities, as in society more generally, the award is a prestigious recognition of best practice, and is the first such win for the university.

Towards the end of 2015, and in the face of the emergent climate crisis, Brunel committed to the development of a programme with four pathways that would cut across subject areas. The objective was to develop graduates who would be able to investigate, analyse and respond to complex societal and global challenges. By approaching an issue from more than just one discipline, these graduates would have the systematic and flexible thinking to be able to tackle the pressing issues that face us all, from food scarcity to refugee resettlement.

The result was the BASc Global Challenges programme, the BASc qualification signifying a transdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts and Sciences. The approved programme was launched in 2018, the programme has four distinct pathways – in Planetary Health, Security, Social Cohesion and Global Innovation – with around 70 students now enrolled.

"The pathways for our Global Challenges students allows them to specialise whilst gaining the skill-set and flexible approach from learning from the viewpoints of multiple disciplines," said Dr Mary Richards, Division Lead for Transdisciplinary Studies in Global Change, who led the development of the BASc, "But there are still core elements through which the principles of education for sustainable development run deep, and each of our students benefits from learning from academics from across the university who are experts in their respective fields.

"With backing from all of Brunel's three Colleges, and from the university's leaders, the programme demonstrates our commitment to addressing the climate crisis through educating the next generation of leaders for sustainable development.

“This award is recognition of the work of all staff working on the programme on the core and on the pathways, and from across the university. I am very grateful for their work.” 

The Green Gown judges deemed Brunel's submission – titled Crossing borders to dismantle the boundary stones – a worthy category winner, comprising 'an inspiring application, and just what students need to help them solve wicked problems'.

Welcoming the win, Prof Andrew Jones, Brunel's Vice-Chancellor and President, said: "Brunel's programme is a step change in university provision, and this award is important recognition of our pioneering work.

"Our flagship programme plays a crucial role in disseminating trans-disciplinary problem-solving skills across HE, ensuring our diverse student body is acutely aware of the existential threats the planet faces."

Mandekh Hussein, the new Programme Director for Global Challenges at Brunel, added: “The purposeful nature of our degree continues to cultivate a community of innovators and change-makers from around the world ready to face the wicked problems of the world head on.

“I am incredibly grateful and honoured to be a part of this movement for transformative learning – and to work alongside phenomenal colleagues, industry partners and students motivated to address injustices with conviction. 

“The BASc Global Challenges degree is truly one of a kind, and the commitment to disrupting disciplinary siloes has indeed cultivated empowered and enabled leaders for sustainable development – both in the now and for the future.”

Winning the award means that Brunel will be automatically entered into the International Green Gowns Awards, which will be announced next year.

Since the launch of the BASc for undergraduates, the university has established doctoral research opportunities for PhD students to create new knowledge and drive innovation, as part of our interdisciplinary Research Centres.

Watch the video about our BASc Global Challenges programme which accompanied our submission

Learn more about our Global Challenges undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at Brunel University London, and about the Green Gown Awards.

Reported by:

Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268821