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Exploring the impact of sustainability through Eco-School activities: Learning through play

Project Description

Project reference number: GSBS-2019-112

This research explores the impact of Eco-School activity within the Scottish education system. As more Scottish schools attain Eco-School status, this may mean that future consumers (the school children of today) are more discerning about the impact production, consumption and waste management has for sustainability. The societal discourse around sustainability is gaining traction amid fears that climate change is irreversible and will impact on humanity as the health of the planet deteriorates. Despite warnings over the last 20 years that production processes and economies, reliant on accelerated consumption of goods with a limited lifespan, compromise eco-systems, food stocks and the earths fertility, this has made little difference to the ways in which businesses operate. Globally, governments have aimed to address sustainability, although climate scientists claim that the proposed outcomes will do little to address the issues.

Latterly, we have witnessed the voice of young people in calling for measures to combat sustainability. Globally, demonstrations have taken place by youth calling for greater government intervention in ensuring planetary protection. There is little research into how young people are educated in sustainability, how this impacts their decision-making or will benefit the future of the planet. This research aims to explore how young people are educated in sustainability, how this informs their consumer practice (including sustainability practice in the family home) and how they perceive businesses that both address and ignore sustainability. Using theories of scaling in which information flows vertically and horizontally, the research will examine the impact of Eco-School activities for children in primary schools to better understand how sustainability influences their sense of responsibility to the planet.

We welcome a more detailed proposal with research objectives supporting the research aim that engages with pertinent research themes, to be sent as part of the application process. Maximum 1500 words.

Supervisory Research Profiles

Director of Studies: Elaine Ritch
GCU Research Online URL:

2nd Supervisor: Julie Thomson
GCU Research Online URL:

3rd Supervisor: Kareena McAloney-Kocaman
GCU Research Online URL:

How to apply

The project is available as a 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time PhD study programme with an expected start date of the 1st October 2020.

Candidates are encouraged to contact the research supervisor for the project before applying.

To apply for this project, use the following link to access the online application form, as well as further information on how to apply:

Please send any other enquiries regarding your application to

Funding Notes

Applicants are expected to find external funding sources to cover the tuition fees and living expenses. Alumni and International students new to GCU who are self-funding are eligible for fee discounts. See more of fees and funding. View Website

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