HUMAN SUSTAINABILITY AND EDUCATION
Eleanor Snare, Writer, Marketer and Visiting lecturer Fashion Marketing and Fashion Communication, University of Leeds – UK
My presentation introduces the idea of the human sustainability framework and the possibilities of using it as a new pathway in fashion education.
Since 2011 I’ve been researching different ways of approaching sustainable fashion labour, education and participation. Two concepts I’m interested in and are often omitted from well-known practices are people and systemic change.
Current practices omit people from their discussions because our economic system, capitalism, successfully diverts attention from the relationship between people and products. Systemic change is omitted because those benefiting from capitalism and driving sustainability or continuity practices are, naturally, unwilling to shift the status quo.
But people are the foundations on which economies and societies are built. They are the creative labourers who define industrial success, so need to be considered when approaching sustainable fashion labour, education and participation. Many of us will also agree systemic change is desperately needed in fashion and education if we’re to continue creating commodities without exploiting material and immaterial resources. Therefore I’m developing a framework for fashion education which has these two essential concepts – people and systemic change – at its heart and aims to help students (and others) work and learn in a more sustainable, continual way.
Its working title is human sustainability: a framework which helps those in fashion do tomorrow what we’re doing today, without harming ourselves, our society, our economy or our resources.
This is a pertinent time to reconsider how we work, teach and participate in fashion. The newest generations travelling through education are acutely aware of work-based problems, reporting more stress and depression than any generation before them1 . They are highly networked yet suffer from “individualistic isolation”2. A generation maturing in the wake of global acts of terrorism, the 2008 banking crisis and the continuing struggle with multi-culturalism need a radically different education, society and economy to the one we have.
Simultaneously, our economic system is reforming. The political response to the 2008 banking crisis has fundamentally changed how we perceive capitalism and how it works. New economic forms are coming to the fore and the fashion and education industries may soon find themselves lumbered with economically unsound business models. Predicting and embracing economic change is not only essential to the continuing life of an educational institution, but to equipping graduates with skills to build a new fashion industry based on a new type of economy.
In my presentation I’ll discuss two elements of the human sustainability framework and explore some of its practical applications. This project is still embryonic and I’m keen to gain feedback and further ideas from conference attendees about how the framework could be applied in their work.
Her career includes designing internal and external marketing and communications, predominantly digital, for New Look, Lloyds Banking Group, TalkTalk, Shop Direct, Marks and Spencer, GSK and EDF Energy.
She is a Teaching Fellow in Fashion Marketing at the University of Leeds, and sits in the Industrial Advisory Group for the institution’s Faculty of Arts, making recommendations on course content and assessment to better reflect the needs of industry.
In 2013 she was a speaker at the New York Fashion Colloquia on the consumption of digital fashion images and its impact on material production.
Her writing has been published in Sumzine, a New York-based magazine on slow fashion, and Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture. In 2014 Eleanor was a finalist in the ModeConnect International Fashion Writing competition.
In 2011 she completed an MA in History of Art, where her thesis focused on fashion blogging as a new form of industry labour.