John’s journey to Glasgow has been a varied one, mixing travelling with a range of jobs including tourism, before deciding at 30 he was too old to work in hotels any longer, and took a BSc in Rural Development at the UHI in Shetland. This led to roles in Shetland Enterprise, Cairngorms National Park Authority and Heriot-Watt University. Along the way he gained an MA in Global Development Management.
For the past six years, John’s been Sustainability Coordinator at Glasgow School of Art. Knowing nothing about how an art school works or what it does now seems an advantage. As a “non-creative person” it’s been an eye-opening experience into the power of creative people to inform, emote and transmit information and raise the profile of issues like climate change.
Working with designers, architects and artists his work seeks to broaden and deepen the student experience by looking at social justice, environmental impact, and ethical issues within students’ practice. This includes material use, lifecycles and how to develop a circular economy. It looks past the fossil fuel economy, and while recognising the enormous benefits it has brought to some, highlights the inequalities, environmental damage, and social injustices it has brought to most.
Psychology is key to understanding why people don’t engage with climate change: why we aren’t all, in the face of an extinction level crisis, all bent on doing everything we can to change for the better. John’s work increasingly focuses on what we can all do within our work, practice and discipline to reach a hopeful future.
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