Social Responsibility and Sustainability

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Three undergraduate students awarded dissertation prizes

The Department for Social Responsibility & Sustainability is delighted to announce that three students have won prizes for their undergraduate dissertations.

Dissertation prizes

Launched earlier this year, the SRS Dissertation Prizes aim to highlight and recognise student research on social responsibility and sustainability themes.

A panel of academics from across the University judged 19 undergraduate entries on their contribution to furthering the knowledge and / or understanding of social responsibility and / or sustainability.

Three students were awarded prizes, each receiving £150 and a £50 voucher for an ethical organisation of their choice.

The Prize Winners

Kirsty Fisher, MA Sustainable Development

Dissertation title: ‘Artificial Glaciers as an Adaptation Strategy for Climate Change: Low Technology Water Management in the Indian Himalayas’

Summary: Kirsty’s dissertation looks at the case of artificial glaciers developed in Ladakh, in the Indian Himalayas, as a way to combat water shortages due to changing glacial melt patterns. In Ladakh, natural glaciers are now melting later in the year, which is having a detrimental impact on crop productivity and is subsequently threatening local livelihoods, as around seventy per cent of Ladakh’s population relies on agriculture as a livelihood. The artificial glacier solution has been developed by a local retired engineer, as a low-technology form of geoengineering using local materials such as stones and clay to build structures that trap water in the winter months at lower altitudes than the natural glaciers. Kirsty carried out multi-methods fieldwork, including mapping where the artificial glacier systems were located, and assessing the effectiveness of the technology. The fundamental findings of the research suggest that the social conditions under which adaptation strategies take place are a critical factor in determining their success, as formal and informal governance systems are needed to ensure maintenance of the technology, and that a detailed understanding of the context is key to developing sustainable solutions.

Judges’ comments: The focus of this dissertation is clearly core to SRS, incorporating both social, cultural, practical and environmental issues. It highlights the importance of local, contextual factors in understanding and developing adaptations to climate change, using the example of a mountain community in the Indian Himalayas. It is a well written, original case study which adds to a body of knowledge on the potential of artificial glaciers in tackling water shortage issues.

Emma Henderson, MA Architecture

Dissertation title: ‘Tactical Urbanism in Terrain Vague: A critique of top-down urban regeneration and the rise of placelessness in the East End of Glasgow

Summary: Emma’s dissertation examines the impacts of major urban transformations due to de-industrialisation and ‘top-down’ regeneration through the 2014 Commonwealth games in Dalmarnock, Glasgow, and considers tactical urbanism and bottom-up strategies for urban regeneration. Dalmarnock was once an area defined by its prosperous industry, but now it suffers from some of the highest levels of unemployment and deprivation in Scotland. The dissertation considers how the spaces left between buildings from ‘top-down’ planning such as for the Commonwealth Games can be used to catalyse greater social inclusion in urban transformations, looking at the case of the Baltic Street Adventure Playground. The dissertation provides a more nuanced understanding of the potential value of ‘abandoned spaces’ as accessible and unregulated spaces, and makes recommendations for more socially responsible architecture.

Judges’ comments: This dissertation focuses on a very important topic regarding urban land use, identity and community with regards to regeneration of wasted spaces in a deprived area of Glasgow. This dissertation clearly contributes to understanding of social responsibility and social inclusion. An original case study contributes to existing knowledge on community engagement in urban renewal. The dissertation is well-written, well-argued and beautifully presented.

Amanda Midhamre, MA Sustainable Development

Dissertation title: ‘Youth as ‘agents for change’?: A longitudinal case study of a sustainable development education programme examining its contributions towards social and environmental sustainability.’

Summary: Amanda’s dissertation examines the case of an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) programme in Botkyra, Stockholm, which is a leadership and social entrepreneurship programme where 15-25 year olds develop projects and businesses to solve sustainability challenges identified by the municipality. The dissertation investigates whether the programme improves social and environmental sustainability at the individual and communal level. The dissertation finds that participants on the programme show an increased understanding of the holistic nature of sustainable development and the role they can play. Amanda argues that youth participation in community decision making is key, as young people have the potential to provide solutions and act as agents of change.

Judges’ comments: The topic of education for sustainable development is clearly key to SRS. This dissertation analyses a specific case of youth participation and the potential for young people to act as agents of change. The focus on young people’s involvement in decision making is important. The case is well analysed, and the dissertation is well structured and written.

Apply for a Masters dissertation prize      

If you are a Masters student completing your dissertation 2016, you too can submit your dissertation for an opportunity to win one of the prizes. 

Quick eligibility checklist

To be considered, the dissertation must...

  • contribute to furthering knowledge and/or understanding of social responsibility and/or sustainability
  • have been marked this year
  • have achieved a grade of 65 or above

Find out more and register your interest for Masters dissertation prizes