UCL Environment


Welcome to the UCL Environment Blog

By GC Summer School , on 27 October 2013

Here you will find information and access to environment-related news, activities, funding, research and teaching at UCL.

The vision of UCL Environment is to promote the world leading environmental research at UCL, coordinate further research activity and policy impact as well as facilitate the work of the UCL Environnmental Sustainability Office. Through enhanced connectivity, integration and communication, building on our multi-disciplinary strengths across all our faculties, we hope to promote and develop the environmental strategic direction for all facets of the institution.  This website will bring together information on ongoing initiatives, funding opportunities, events and goals and thus contribute to the aims of both the UCL Research and Environmental Sustainability Strategies.

Essentially the UCL Environment Domain has 3 key strands:

  • Research & Policy Impact
  • Campus & Community
  • Teaching

Please visit our home page for regularly updated posts providing current information on:

  • research themes;
  • funding opportunities;
  • publications;
  • news and events;
  • media announcements;
  • estates projects;
  • green champions.

Each is identified by a category on the right hand menu.

UCL Environment: Teaching

By GC Summer School , on 27 October 2013

The Vice-Provost (Education) is responsible to the Provost for leading the development and delivery of education at UCL. This includes: the development of educational strategy; curriculum development; the promotion of the student experience; quality assurance and enhancement in the area of education; the introduction and use of new educational and pedagogical technologies; and the career development of academic staff in support of UCL’s educational mission. UCL offers a fantastic range of environmental courses both at masters and PhD level as well as short courses. UCL’s eminence is recognised through its 4th place world ranking (Times Higher Education – QS Top World Universities 2012).

The expertise of UCL’s world-leading academics is applied in the ongoing development of degree programmes which are broadly grouped in the Faculties of Arts and Humanities, Brain Sciences, Built Environment, Engineering Sciences, Laws, Life Sciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Medical Sciences, Population Health Sciences, and Social and Historical Sciences. Study at all levels at UCL offers rigorous academic investigation and discovery, and has embedded within it personal and professional development opportunities that will enhance students’ career prospects.

For information on all our courses please click here. | ucl-environment-teaching | 2013-10-24 15:31:28 | UCL Environment: Teaching

UCL Environment Campus and Community

By GC Summer School , on 27 October 2013

Environmental challenges being address by our various research activities must be addressed within the context of economic development, social change and social justice, and UCL as a world-class, cross-disciplinary university has an important role to play: by addressing the environmental impact of its activities and operations; by providing ethical leadership through its decisions and actions; and deploying its academic excellence, research and entrepreneurial activities to tackle real-world challenges, and contribute to the solutions. The UCL Environmental & Sustainability Office was set up in 2009 with the aim of establishing a framework to tackle the institution’s operations (e.g. carbon emissions, water use, waste generated materials, procured and consumed, impact on biodiversity , travel and transport).

UCL Environment: Campus & Community will be led by the UCL Environmental & Sustainability Office. The strategy is focused on five core aims:

  • To create a sustainable campus;
  • To enable and empower all UCL communities to address their environmental sustainability effects;
  • To provide the education, advancement, dissemination and application of sustainable development;
  • To maximise the wider impact of UCL’s environmental sustainability activities at a local, regional, national and international level;
  • To become a leader across the HE sector in terms of environmental sustainability.


UCL Environment Research and Policy Impact

By GC Summer School , on 27 October 2013

The world is facing complex environmental problems that endanger or well-being, security and future. Environmental complexities produce wicked problems. The problems are defined as wicked due to their resistance to straightforward solutions. Complex problems require complex solutions and cross-disciplinary approaches lie at their heart. The domain will play a central role in integrating different activities across all faculties to help generate wisdom in environmental research and thus endeavour to contribute to the policy impact of the knowledge produced by UCL researchers. The research focus will be

UCL Environment Research & Policy and the area will be led by the Prof David Price (Vice-Provost, Research) and co-ordinator Marianne Knight. The strategy is focused on the following aims:

  • build a picture through extensive data collection of all environment research activity, funding streams and policy impact;
  • manage the promotion of existing work, both internally and externally;
  • coordinate and facilitate larger research bids;
  • engage with policy makers, industry partner funders, and other HE institutions
  • and bridge gaps, both in communication strata as well as in research activity and funding

How Badges Can Motivate Students Online Learning

By Magdalena Kron, on 19 August 2013

Authors: Magdalena Krön (Teaching Assistant & Project Manager) and Liem Phan (UCL Student)

Jane Burns, Senior Teaching Fellow in Marketing, is leading an e-learning pilot for the module ‘Introduction to Marketing’ within the Management Science & Innovation Department at UCL. The project, which has been developed over the summer, adopts innovative new tools to aid the online learning experience. This post will provide some background to the project and discuss how to motivate students online engagement through the implementation of Mozilla Badges and a leader board.


With growing student numbers and expectation from students to have learning materials accessible, the pilot project has been developed to explore new ways in which teaching can be delivered within UCL.

The pilot implements new sophisticated features within Moodle as well as it includes access to Pearson Education’s e-learning platform, MyMarketing Lab. Within MyMarketing Lab the core text book will be provided as an e-text, eliminating the physical need for the book.

How to Encourage Online Learning

With the decision to flip the teaching to an online environment the learning process are facing certain challenges. Delivering lectures and assessments online requires specific methods to motivate and encourage engagement from students. It is therefore essential to implement triggers to promote specific behaviour, e.g. motivation to go through readings, into the learning material.

During this summer, five UCL students has supported the planning and production of online material for the “new” marketing module. Tools to encourage online engagement has been implemented, including Mozilla Badges and a supporting leader board.

Badges and the Leader board

Mozilla Badges is built on the same behavioural concept used by the scouts. Learning and development of new skills are rewarded and recognised through receiving a badge.

Badges provide feedback to identify and encourage positive behaviours that benefits the individual and the overall community. They are great in showcasing the individual feat of accomplishments, however they lack the scope and exposure to the people with the same objectives.This is where a leader board comes in to unite these participants within the community. Leader boards highlight the individual accomplishments in addition to offering visual motivation.

An online leader board, built by Liem Phan a student from the Management Science & Innovation Department, are looking to add motivation and act as a trigger supporting students learning.


The concept of the leader board is simple. To motivate students to explore the online learning material, the badges are hidden in readings and exercises and are collected through a treasure hunt. Badges earn you points and the person with more points gets ranked higher. If the points are equal, the person who earned it first gets the advantage. The simple notion of being a leader of something or being ahead of others can be a powerful motivating tool in itself.


polar bear owl wolf

Examples of the Badges that student can collect

However, there is a danger that the feeling of supremacy can stagnate and actually discourage participation if there is little fluctuation in the rankings. To prevent this and influence positive behaviour a few basic components are added such as rank change indicator and weekly views.

The rank change indicator can be an effective call-to-action for the user. If they see that red downwards arrow next to their name, it tells them that they have been slacking and lost their rank. The green up arrow adds to the sense of accomplishment, letting them know that their effort to earn the badges has been recognised by moving up in the ranks.

How This Will Change the Learning Process

The collection of badges and the use of the leader board will have a direct impact on the students learning process and the feedback teaching staff will have access to.

Weekly views make it possible to dissect all the information at hand and to reflect from it. This provides more insight towards students consistency of performance, level of engagement, and room for improvement. There is a lot of power in understanding how active and engaged students are, how they are progressing and then take action accordingly.

The badges and the leader board will be implemented in the ‘Introduction to Marketing‘ module starting January 2014 and the feedback received through this pilot will help to improve online learning at UCL further.

Call for student views on management of study space

By Kathleen Minett, on 9 August 2013

With the Research Grid, JBR, Cloisters and the Anatomy Hub, there are a number of new learning spaces external to the library which are popping up all over UCL. How these spaces are managed is currently being evaluated and we need student views to help us.

Library Services and Estates are currently evaluating what UCL are doing so far in terms of management of study space, to share best practice and plan management of future student hubs.

In order to get all views incorporated in the report I would like to speak to users of the different spaces across UCL. If you are a Library employee as well as a student and you use either the Research Grid, JBR, Cloisters or Anatomy Hub then it would be great to hear your views. If you are interested in sharing your views then please contact me at k.minett@ucl.ac.uk. As a thank you all respondents will be entered in to a prize draw for the chance to win £10 worth of Amazon vouchers.