Michel Mason is our new Sustainability Engagement Manager. She’s had a varied career, from working in the film and radio industries, to teaching media in the UK, and English language in Asia-Pacific countries. Here she tells us about her new role within the sustainability team. 

As well as working at the University, you’re also a PhD researcher, tell us about your research interests. 

As you have probably seen from my LinkedIn page, I have worked in various countries with international students learning English for academic and / or business development.  I came to realise that a teacher-training programme that has an international student reach is fittingly placed to disseminate education for sustainable development (ESD) utilising the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and transformative pedagogies. I'm exploring the teacher-trainer and trainee-teachers’ reflections upon embedding sustainability into English language teaching, employing transformative pedagogies, and the impact upon their own pedagogical practice. So, the title of my research is Education for Sustainable Development: Building the capacity for embedding sustainable development into training Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages (TESOL). I teach my own module to the TEFL and TESOL students in Lang and Ling.  

What areas of work will you prioritise?

My work is guided by the Sustainability Sub-strategy and the fact that the University has recently signed the SDG Accord. My remit is to expand the reach of sustainability engagement across the University. I will be working with a diverse range of people employed at the University; we are not limiting our engagement to academic staff and students.  My team and I are aiming to provide a more targeted approach to sustainability through education for sustainable development. We want to be an integral part of the students' time at university rather than on the periphery of their experience. We hope to more actively engage with Careers and Employability, the SU through projects, Event Essex through collaborative events and others. We will be talking with academic departments, the library and Skills for Success about how they could consider the SDGs in their work for the SOS-UK Global Goals Teach In in March. In the summer, we are aiming to hold a symposium for shared good practice on sustainability initiatives being delivered at the University. We want to coordinate an approach that thinks globally by acting locally.  

Tell us something about yourself, have you got any interesting hobbies or interests?

I became a Certified Mentor for Association for Learning Design and ESD in 2023 https://aldesd.org/; and my PhD work takes up most of my 'free' time. I have recently taken up bodycombat and am learning Italian and becoming reacquainted with French.