“Avoid pressure on people to label it but think about the content and methods… Look at the components of the EAUC’s research on Living Labs - you can work with those stakeholders, do innovation and feedback to the partner organisations and the cycle can become bigger and bigger and grow.” – Valeria Vargas, Education for Sustainable Development Co-ordinator
The University Environmental Sustainability strategy explicitly identifies opportunities the campus offers as a Living Lab. This supports momentum with driving forward such approaches to teaching, learning and research at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), however it is also encouraged that they grow from the bottom up to encourage meaningful and organic development. Living Labs are taking place to varying degrees within a wide range of departments at MMU. Although there are great examples of applied learning and research and interdisciplinary/ partnership working occurring it can be difficult to capture this making it challenging to use examples to grow momentum. This is synergetic across the sector with many examples of strong Living Lab research partnerships, however few are engaged with the full Living Lab cycle due to missing stakeholders or a shortfall in continued evaluation and development of work.
Most Living Labs at MMU tend to sit within research areas of either departments and schools, or research focussed assessment and enquiry. As a general trend they are led by academics and a result of student-generated ideas. To support the growth of Living Lab approaches, work has been done at MMU to identify good practice and share approaches to engagement with Living Labs across the institution. Coordination of Living Labs is within the remit of the Sustainability Engagement Team.
When it comes to engaging students with Living Labs, the need to communicate such opportunities at as many levels as possible has been emphasised. There is a sense that although the opportunities are available, many students look to carry out research in areas beyond the locality of their university. Wide ranging benefits could be had from engaging students with their campus and local communities for Living Labs style learning and research.
MMU had a key feature on their Living Labs in the December 2017 edition of Environmental Scientist. Guest edited by EAUC, the journal showcased Living Labs at several universities in the UK and across the globe.