University lecturer and alumna Beth Christie (PGDE 2015) is taking to the Antarctic seas with 80 fellow ambassadors as part of the world’s largest all-female expedition.
The Homeward Bound initiative aims to heighten the leadership capability of women in policy and decision making related to the sustainability of our planet. The ground-breaking initiative involves a 12-month collaboration and leadership development programme carried out through virtual and in-person sessions, culminating in an expedition to Antarctica in February 2018.
By bringing together current and future leaders in this way, Homeward Bound strives to create a collaborative network of influential females to address the lack of women in leadership positions, and aims to reach 1,000 women within 10 years.
Beth, a programme director for the MSc Learning for Sustainability and lecturer in Outdoor and Environmental Sustainability Education at Moray House School of Education, has been supported in her mission by an Innovation Initiative Grant of £5,000. Such grants are alumni funded and provided by the University to kick-start new and ambitious ideas and projects. Beth is passionate about what the grant is allowing her to achieve.
“We are re-visioning education for a sustainable future,” she says. “Globally, females are underrepresented in leadership positions and change has been incredibly slow. And while women form a high percentage of graduates and a significant percentage of our workforce, they are in the profound minority when it comes to executive roles. The Homeward Bound project aims to address this by bringing together women with diverse backgrounds and expertise in order to develop their capability to influence policy and decisions towards a sustainable future."
Beth has been working closely with academics, teachers and leaders from across the University, Scotland and internationally to consider how this future may develop in theory, practice and policy.
She says: “I look forward to gaining a clearer understanding of myself and our collective message, and to taking steps towards international collaborative action.
“My involvement also affords an opportunity to further consider and re-imagine the ways schooling, and community and higher education could respond to a range of complex global challenges. By telling the story of my expedition and sharing my knowledge through undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, I will then be able to raise awareness of global sustainability issues and related gender equity issues within the wider student body, within schools and across other sectors too."
Beth plans to integrate the project into her already strong ties with schools across Scotland. She is collaborating with Dr Sian Henley – a Marine biogeochemist in the School of Geosciences who regularly works in the polar regions – Education Scotland, Dynamic Earth and Scotland's UN Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development, to determine the best way to develop this outreach work.
She says: “I plan to offer schools the opportunity to follow my expedition and to align this with Scotland’s unique Learning for Sustainability agenda. I will encourage pupils to send questions and interact with me both before, after and possibly during my expedition. I see this as a fantastic opportunity to bring climate science directly from Antarctica – from places such as the Palmer Research Station – into Scottish classrooms."
Homeward Bound’s focus will be on developing the leadership capabilities to influence significant issues at a global level including climate change, deforestation, species extinction and quality of life. It will also tackle specific gender issues, such as sexual harassment and bullying since they affect the progression of women in general, and specifically in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.
Support for the initiative has come from high places, too, with such influential figures as Amy Poehler, Chelsea Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg advocating the message of gender equality.
“We have the chance to directly impact students, the University and the public,” says Beth. “Not only can we advance the field of sustainability education but we can do so while amplifying the voice of female scientists. Such impact will undoubtedly lead to greater visibility for women in leadership roles both in Scotland and around the world.”
If you would like to find out more about the project or would like to support Beth, you can contact her directly: