John Thorne

Since 2013, I’ve been the Sustainability Coordinator at Glasgow School of Art. I’m an environmentalist working with students and staff on environmental and social justice issues across the estate, but most importantly within the curriculum.

We suffer an emotional disconnect from crises like climate change, and the useless changes we are asked to make only add to our feelings of powerlessness. Anxiety and fear can overwhelm us and lead to denial and inaction. Although crises are large, our individual responsibility for them is relatively small, and our impacts can be far outweighed by our work.

We can have major positive impacts as HE professionals and academics, engaging more effectively with students and staff on the key issues of our time. We need to understand the psychology of our inaction, and what is meaningless action, and what is meaningful.

My work helps connect people to the materials and resources we use on campus, and the impacts of the subjects we teach; I work with academics to build in environmental and social justice into their subjects: From English to Engineering, from the creative arts to anthropology, subjects can provide real design and systems solutions. I assist professional services departments in setting and reaching their goals: I inform professionals and academics and then help them to workshop their own solutions, estates actions, and curriculum content.

I include social justice and wellbeing issues such as race, gender, class, sexuality and other characteristics, as they are inseparable from environmental justice and must be addressed together. Science subjects are vital for us to find new solutions, and the arts to emotionally connect us to those solutions. Wellbeing is essential so we can not only look after ourselves but others and wider nature.

I have previously worked for Heriot-Watt University in their Transitions University project, for Cairngorms National Park Authority and Shetland Enterprise, and before this in several private sector roles in hospitality and banking.

In my spare time I think about how to save humanity.