Growing new worlds in Glasgow and Tucson schools

The International Green Academy is a collective of researchers - led by Dr Ian Shaw - from the University of Glasgow and University of Arizona, as well as schools at Glasgow (Boclair Academy) and Tucson (Tucson Unified School District), investigating how school gardens can transform our cities, outdoor learning, and ecological outlook across international borders. 

School gardens are bursting with potential. Whether in Arizona deserts, or Scottish lowlands, these urban gardens provide a space of outdoor learning, fresh food for local communities (from families to food banks), and a space of health and mental wellbeing for students.

There are over 4,000 secondary schools in the UK and 350 in Scotland, yet school gardens remain under-researched spaces for building socially progressive urban ecologies. Accordingly, this project will test the effectiveness of a school garden in one Glasgow secondary school (Boclair Academy). This innovative garden will be designed, built, and evaluated, by a team of interdisciplinary researchers from the University of Glasgow and the University of Arizona, as well as teachers from Glasgow and Tucson.

Learning how to grow vegetables, collect rainwater, aerate the soil, and design sustainable growing spaces, immerses students in their local environments, communicates important scientific knowledge, and prepares them for enacting different, more dignified, urban futures. This project therefore has five objectives:

  1. Empower an international team of researchers and school teachers to develop an innovative school garden partnership that bridges urban biomes between Glasgow and the U.S.
  2. Connect Glasgow students to their local environment, and encourage an awareness of urban environmental justice, sustainability, and food autonomy.
  3. Deliver students with the resources to improve their gardening skills, scientific knowledge, collaborative capacities, and ecological citizenship.
  4. Produce innovate curricula and policy that can be shared between Glasgow schools.
  5. Create world-class scholarship to guide future school garden developments.

First published: 28 August 2019