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Institute for Social Justice

Living Lab: Learning at the Junction

In Spring 2022 students from 9 subjects collaborated to investigate and tackle the issue of local air quality on the boundary of the university.

Two students holding a placard at the Learning at the Junction event

While the impacts of climate change are global and can feel distant at times in the Global North, poor air quality has immediate, local impacts on people's health.

It’s a complex problem whose solutions call for diverse skills and knowledge. Thus students from 9 academic subjects came together to investigate the air quality near the university over the course of a semester.

Biomedical Sciences students brought their ability to monitor pollution and its effects on health; Geography students their understanding of the politics of space and sustainability policy; linguists and designers their powers of persuasion; Arts students their creative channels for engaging the public emotionally in the issue of air quality. The project blog shares staff and student experiences of this first Living Lab at York St John University.

Learning at the Junction Blog

The project involved 'learning at the junction' in several senses: the literal junction between Lord Mayor’s Walk and Gillygate, the junction between academic disciplines, between the university and the city, between research and advocacy.

Interdisciplinary project events included a film screening, a visit by Arts students to the university’s science labs, visiting speakers such as Rosamund Kissi-Debrah (co-founder of the Ella Roberta Family Foundation), Chrysalis Arts, and air quality expert Prof Alastair Lewis.

The project culminated in a public street festival in which students shared their learning and proposed solutions with policymakers and the local community.

Learning at the Junction event

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