Written by Dr Lucy Gill-Simmen (RHUL)
Our Developing Pedagogy competition has run since 2020 and was initiated in recognition of the financial barriers that often exist preventing individuals and groups from putting their innovative teaching ideas into practice.
Dr Lucy Gill-Simmen, Professor Sukanya Sen Gupta of Royal Holloway, University of London and Visting Artist Birungi Kawooya were one of our 2022 winners in the special Impactful Five (i5) Category with their ‘Self-Portraiture – Empowering Students to Make a Difference’ project. Dr Lucy Gill-Simmen, Vice Dean for Education & Student Experience, School of Business and Management and project lead, reflects on the "Portraits of Your Future Self" workshop which was central to the project.
Our recent workshop "Portraits of Your Future Self" utilised creative self-expression to provide students a welcoming and safe environment in which to explore their hopes, values, and what gives their life meaning. Through introspective artmaking and a supportive community, participants were able to connect with their authentic selves and to voice and portray their aspirations.
The workshop aligns with several i5 methods. Active engagement was encouraged through open-ended creation of personal future portraits and through engagement with the facilitator. The process involved self-directed iteration and experimentation with materials towards a final product which was encouraged and discussed throughout the session amongst participants. Social interaction thus occurred organically as students reflected together on identity and goals and discussed their outputs and the meaning which underpinned them. Framing the activity around meaningful personal growth and inner wisdom activated significant learning opportunities for participants. Finally, the non-judgmental creative space prioritised student wellbeing, peace, relaxation, and finding joy in the process.
Funding awarded from the Innovative Pedagogy competition allowed purchase of diverse art supplies for the session including frames, fabric and plant fibres from Uganda. These high-quality materials were crucial for spurring imagination and self-expression by providing a myriad of options and media for students to represent their desired future states. The grant also enabled hiring of a former marketing professional and now professional artist to expertly lead the workshop and to assist students in creation of meaning through their portraits.
Participant reactions highlight the activity's positive impacts. One student shared that after initially feeling directionless, the process of selecting materials and playing with visual metaphors "made me think ahead, wildly not just studies, and made me stop and think about what I actually want?" Others felt "like a kid again" re-experiencing the freedom of uncomplicated creation. Multiple students described finally having "time for myself" and losing awareness of other responsibilities during the absorbing activity which reflects the characteristics of ‘flow’ leading to joy and wellbeing. The non-judgmental creative space facilitated new understandings of fellow students and an opportunity for students to open up and to connect not only with their own self but others too.
Overall, the immersive self-exploration through art catalysed stress relief, connection with authentic self, optimism about personal growth, and renewed enthusiasm for learning - all whilst fostering community. These outcomes show the merits of our pedagogical approach to advance inclusion, equity, and reconciliation within business education. By valuing the inner worlds of those who may feel marginalized or out of place in typical academic classes, transformative educational experiences become possible that embrace diverse perspectives.
The PRME Chapter UK and Ireland is one of 17 Regional Chapters of the global United Nations PRME movement (established 2007). All Chapters are joined in a collective mission to transform management education and develop the responsible decision-makers of tomorrow to advance sustainable development. Globally, PRME has over 800 Higher Education Institutions as signatories.
Established in 2013, the UKI Chapter currently has 75 institutional members and is led by a 13 person Steering Committee elected by the membership. The Chapter seeks to nurture a mutually supportive community of committed responsible management educators and researchers. Members benefit from a Chapter-wide event programme, an annual conference and doctoral colloquium, a growing set of Local Networks each with its own event schedule, and three annual, Chapter wide competitions focused on Innovative Pedagogies, Responsible Management Research and Student Writing. Full details of Chapter activities can be found here.