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SCION Research Group

Sustainability, Creativity, and Innovation

Sharing Interdisciplinary Perspectives for Sustainability 


The word SCION means ‘a young shoot or twig of a plant, especially one cut for grafting or rooting’, a metaphor which seemed well suited for our inter-disciplinary research and knowledge exchange group. SCION brings together diverse disciplinary experts with community and business partners to share knowledge and solve problems related to sustainability in its widest sense. It includes a mix of experienced researchers, practitioners and early career researchers and PhD students.

Our work links to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), part of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development defined in 2015. The seventeen SDGs focus on ending poverty and reducing inequality, while improving health and education – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve natural resources. These goals align closely with the subject specialities and institutional values of Plymouth Marjon University and underpin development of our research and knowledge exchange.

Unlike many sustainability groups, the creative arts form a strong part of the interdisciplinary core of the group. We explore a wide range of issues - bringing together theories of communication, education, behaviour change and performance with the big sustainability issues including climate change, community development and social responsibility. Underpinning the research and knowledge exchange activities of the group is a collaborative, creative, and playful approach to work which opens up imaginative possibilities for problem-solving.

We specialise in participatory, action-oriented research which aims to have direct influence on the university and external partners through joint projects. The group will also support the core principles of enhancing research-informed curricula in higher education, providing a focal point for students’ interest in sustainability and climate challenges, and for wider developments towards the sustainable university ideal.

If you’re a community group that would like to work with academic researchers, or an academic interested in collaboration, dissemination and impact, get in touch with us:
Twitter:  @MarjonSCION 

Key themes explored by SCION

• Communication and behaviour change

• Outdoor learning and sustainability education

• Local democracy and community action

• Innovation in business and enterprise 

• Creative arts and performance

• Environmental, social and economic sustainability

Selected outputs

Energy Literacy: International Comparisons 

Cotton, DRE.,  Zhai, J., Miller, W., Dalla Valle, L. and Winter, J. (2021) Reducing energy demand in China and the United Kingdom: The importance of energy literacy. Journal of Cleaner Production. 278. Available online at:

Cotton, D.R.E., Winter, J., Miller, W. & Dalla Valle, L. (2018) Is students’ energy literacy related to their university’s position in a sustainability ranking? Environmental Education Research 24 (11): 1611-1626

Cotton, D.R.E, Shiel, C. & do Paco, A. (2016) Energy saving on campus: A comparison of students' attitudes and behaviours in the UK and Portugal. Journal of Cleaner Production 129: 586-595.

Cotton, D.R.E, Miller, W., Winter, J. Bailey, I. & Sterling, S. (2016) Knowledge, agency and collective action as barriers to energy-saving behaviour. Local Environment. 21 (7): 883-897.

Cotton, D., Winter, J., Miller, W. and Muneer, R. (2015) Informal learning on campus: a comparative study of students’ energy literacy in UK universities. In Wyness, L. (Ed.) Education for Sustainable Development Pedagogy: Criticality, Creativity, and Collaboration. PedRIO paper number 8. 

Cotton, D., Miller, W., Winter, J., Bailey, I. and Sterling, S. (2015) Developing students' energy literacy in higher education. International Journal of Sustainability in HE. 16 (4) 456-473.

Winter, J. and Cotton. D. (2012) Making the hidden curriculum visible: Sustainability literacy in Higher Education. Environmental Education Research. 37:2, 192-203.


Surfing, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability

Beaumont, E. and Wallis, L. (forthcoming) ‘Jobs are for people that don’t surf’- Lifestyle Entrepreneurship within Lifestyle Sports. In Bill, K. (Ed.) In publication.

Borne, G., (2018) Surfing and Sustainability, London , Routledge ISBN -13: 978-1138856745

Borne, G and Ponting, J., (2017) (Eds) Sustainable Surfing, London, Routledge ISBN -13: 978-1138930759

Borne, G. (2017) Sustainability and Surfing in a Risk Society  In J. Borne. and J. Ponting Sustainable Surfing, London Routledge

Borne, G. (2017) Sustainable Surfing Future Directions   In J. Borne. and J. Ponting Sustainable Surfing, London Routledge

Wallis, L., Walmsley, A., Beaumont, E. and Sutton, C. (forthcoming) ‘Just want to surf, make boards and party’: How do we identify lifestyle entrepreneurs within the lifestyle sports industry? International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal.

Wyness, L. & Jones, P. (2018). Boundary crossing ahead: perspectives of entrepreneurship by sustainability educators in Higher Education. Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. DOI: 10.1080/08276331.2018.1493338

Wyness, L., Jones, P. and Klapper, R. (2015). Sustainability: what the entrepreneurship educators think, Education + Training, 58: 8/9.


Art, Performance, and Extra-curricular Learning 

Raven, N & Schwitzgebel, D. (2022) Pop Music Videos and Kinship Midst Covid. GRiT (Graduate Research in Theatre). Birkbeck University of London. 30th May 2022

Raven, N & Preston, J. (2021) Site-responsive attunement and DIY film making as method of collaborative art making and deepening kinship. Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) conference. Liverpool Hope University. 6-10 September 2021

Raven, N., (2020) Bodycloth in Performance Art [PhD thesis]. URI

Raven, N., (2018) When does it Start? On Time: A SPILL Reader, Ipswich: Paccitti Company Publishing

Raven, N., (2018) Between Material and the Body: How Drapery Performs. Materials of Resistance. Plymouth: Clare Thornton Publishing

Raven, N., (2016) Tempting Failure for Total Theatre Review. The Live Art Almanac Volume 4. London: LADA and Oberon Books

Raven, N., (2015) Spill Geist: An Ode to (the) Others. Spill International Festival of Performance

Raven, N., (2015) Spill Stains: No where // Now Here (The Palimpsest of FK Alexander and Lydia Lunch). Spill International Festival of Performance

Winter, J., Chapman, S. and Treasure, K. (2015) Using a university arts gallery to enhance the student learning experience. SEDA annual conference. Cardiff. 19-20th November 2015

Winter, J., Chapman, S., and Treasure, K. (2014) Contemporary Art as Extra-curricular Learning: Lessons from a University Art Gallery. The International Journal of Arts Education. 10 (1) pp.29-41. 


Nature & Connection 

Gibson, K. & Leather, M. (2020). Mixed methods research: Paradigmatic considerations for outdoor studies in B. Humberstone and H. Prince (Eds.). Research Methods in Outdoor Studies. London: Routledge.

Leather, M., & Gibson, K. (2019). The consumption and hyperreality of nature: Greater affordances for Outdoor Learning. Curriculum perspectives, 39(1), 79-83. 

Leather, M. (2019). Pasts and Presents Making Connections with the Sea: A Matter of a Personal and Professional Heimat, in K. Peters & M. Brown, (Eds.). Living with the Sea: Knowledge, Awareness and Action.  Routledge Studies in Human Geography.  pp 196-212. Abingdon: Taylor & Francis. ISBN: 9781138062078

Nicholls, F & Leather, M (2014) Enriching Student Learning: More than activities. In E. Backman, B. Humberstone & C. Loynes (eds.) Urban nature: inclusive learning through youthwork and school work. Boras, Sweden: Recito Publishers. ISBN-13: 978-9175176598


Sustainable Food 

Smith, D., Schlaepfer, P., Major, K., Dyble, D., Page, A.E., Thompson, J., Chaudhary, N., Salali, GD., Mace, R., Astete, L., Ngales, M., Vinicius, L. & Migliano, A.B. (2017) Cooperation and the evolution of hunter-gatherer storytelling. Nature Communications 8: 1853

Smith, D., Dyble, M., Thompson, J., Major, K., Page, A.E., Chaudhary, N., Salali, DG., Vinicius, L., Migliano, A.B. & Mace, R. (2016) Camp stability predicts patterns of hunter-gatherer cooperation. Royal Society Open Science 3 (7): 160131