Designing and delivering experiential learning opportunities: Environmental law in action

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LC19_paper_8.pdf(243.84 KB)
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Ryall, Áine
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University College Cork
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
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Research Projects
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This paper reports on the experience gained with an undergraduate Law module – LW3372 Environmental Law: Contemporary Issues in Governance, Regulation and Enforcement – in the academic year 2018/19. This module incorporates specific features designed to enable students to engage with environmental law ‘in action’ through experiential learning opportunities set in the context of a research-based approach to teaching and learning. In 2018/19, the module was restructured to map it on to the Connected Curriculum framework adopted by University College Cork (University College Cork, 2018). This involved, in particular, a stronger focus on the research component which forms part of the assessment for the module and more explicit linkages to law ‘in action’, specifically: how to engage Law to solve contemporary societal challenges. The module also sought to draw out and engage with implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a particular focus on Goal 13 Climate Action and Goal 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (UN General Assembly, 2015). The research objective underpinning this project was to explore and report on the experience of implementing selected elements of University College Cork’s Connected Curriculum framework in an undergraduate module. The project on which this paper is based drew on the detailed framework for curriculum design and renewal developed by Dilly Fung at University College London (UCL) (Fung, 2017). The core principle underpinning UCL’s Connected Curriculum initiative is that students learn through research and active enquiry. One particularly important dimension of the model developed by Fung involves connecting students with research and researchers. Early exposure to frontier research, together with the opportunity to connect directly with researchers and practitioners who are working to solve societal challenges, equips students with invaluable insights into their field of study. It also serves to demonstrate to students the fundamental role of research in society. Connecting effectively with research facilitates a further dimension of the Connected Curriculum framework – ‘outwardfacing student assessments’. In other words, the assessment element of a module or programme, as the case may be, is conceptualised and designed to be the ‘output’ of a student’s own research and enquiry. Depending on the particular model of assessment deployed, this ‘output’ may have an impact on local and wider audiences (e.g. policy briefs, research reports, blogs, podcasts, student-run events etc.). This outward-facing focus, and the emphasis on student-generated outputs, is a key element of delivering impactful experiential learning opportunities in the field of environmental law.
Environmental law , Student-generated outputs , Research-based approach
Ryall, Á. (2019) 'Designing and delivering experiential learning opportunities: Environmental law in action', Learning Connections 2019: Spaces, People, Practice, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, 5-6 December, pp. 34-38. doi: 10.33178/LC.2019.08
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