The Awards: the results are published


On Wednesday 15th March 2017 we acknowledged the efforts of everyone involved in the curated week of the Festival of Creative Learning with an award ceremony and thank you reception at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI). The event was incredibly well intended by event organisers,attendees and partners, all of whom received a  beautiful Festival of Creative Learning stainless steel water bottle as a token of our thanks for their involvement in #FCL17. Take a look at the Storify we made of the event here.

We received 131 nominations for nine awards, which made the task of shortlisting and deciding the winners and runners up for each category incredibly difficult. We frequently found ourselves debating whether we could just give everyone an award, but eventually concluded nobody would thank us for keeping them there a week while we presented them all.

Now, as we are rounding up our Festival “decompression and future planning” week, I am pleased to publish the results for all who were unable to attend the event. Feel free to applaud your efforts and those of others as you scroll through the images below. All photography is courtesy of the marvellous Mihaela Bodlovic.

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Thank you once again to everyone involved. Be sure to look out for pop-up events throughout the year and get those thinking caps on for ideas you could pursue as a pop-up yourself or for #FCL18! Contact us to discuss your creativity in more detail.

I’m a Perfectionist… Get Me Out Of Here!


Mindfulness by Darragh O Connor, under a Creative Commons license

“Are you a perfectionist? Does this cause you problems?” Clearly there are a lot of students who answer yes to these questions as our event was fully booked with a long waiting list. So if perfectionism causes you difficulties, take heart – you’re not alone!

The workshop was designed to involve a lot of active learning and talking with other students. For the first exercise we shared in pairs the positive aspects of being a perfectionist, as well as the problems we experience, then fed these back to the whole group. Perfectionism isn’t something we have to get rid of from our personalities; it’s possible to keep perfectionism in balance so we can reap benefits. Participants mentioned that perfectionism can lead not only to achieving a high level of performance, but being well-organised and reliable, and feelings of satisfaction and greater involvement in whatever they’re doing.

How to overcome the problems though, which students said include stress, procrastination, dissatisfaction, loneliness, and low self-esteem because of unhealthy expectations?

We talked a lot about focussing on the idea of making progress rather than achieving perfection. In order to avoid procrastination we can break down tasks into small, manageable parts, focussing on working steadily through these, and rewarding ourselves for setting and achieving realistic goals. We also looked at moving on from ‘all-or-nothing thinking’, which sees everything that is not as good as we want it to be as a ‘failure’. We practiced changing a negative thought, such as ‘I did badly on that assignment’ to one which recognises difficult feelings but also any positives and pointers for making progress: ‘I was disappointed in my mark, but I got some positive comments for that assignment as well as some feedback about how to improve in future.’ This is an example of re-thinking ‘failure’ as a learning opportunity. We can turn any experience into a great opportunity by asking ‘what can I learn from this?’

In between the discussion exercises, Ali Newell from the Chaplaincy led us in mindfulness exercises that help relieve stress, including a sitting meditation and tai chi (simple mindful movement). No special equipment or clothes are needed for these exercises and it’s possible to do them as a lovely start to the day, in breaks from working, or to relax before going to bed. The Chaplaincy also offers free lunchtime mindfulness sessions (see below). We ended the workshop with some singing for fun – also an excellent stress-buster, very good for physical and mental health.

One of the things participants found very valuable was the chance to discuss how they would put their learning from the workshop into action. I was delighted by the positive feedback. We may run this event during the Festival of Creative Learning next year, and in the meantime, if you have problems with perfectionism, do look for help (e.g. from your Personal Tutor or Student Support Officer) and try some of the suggestions given above.

Rachel Howell

Web resources:


Stress-busting mindfulness at the Chaplaincy:

Capacitar Tai Chi 1.10-1.40 pm Tuesdays

Mindfulness 1.10-1.50 pm Thursdays

Yoga 1.10-2.00 pm Fridays

All in room 1 at the Chaplaincy Centre. All free. All welcome.

CLAD THE WIKIHOUSE! Reflections on a week of creating, learning and keeping warm


Credit: Civic Soup CIC

Our event provided a platform for participants of the Festival of Creative Learning to work together in the construction of a protective cladding for a small community office/art space (Wikihouse) in Glasgow. The Wikihouse is part of an ongoing Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) Project Office initiative and was assembled in the summer of 2016 for and by the children of Baltic Street Adventure Playground (BSAP) in Dalmarnock.

In this cladding phase ESALA Projects Office supported design collective Civic Soup (a team of recent graduates from the University of Edinburgh and Karlsruhe) to work in collaboration with industry partners BAM construction and CMS cladding. The design gave the local children a creative outlet by colourfully spray painting PVC panels which will allow them to establish an ownership of the finished building.

Clad the Wikihouse! gave participants a practical, physical, collaborative and creative platform to learn, supported by the Festival of Creative Learning. Together we created a beautiful and weather-tight space which is safe and comfortable to use for the local community. The project would not have been possible without the help and enthusiasm of everyone who partook in the process and the finished building is something we can all be proud of.

A day by day reflection:



Credit: Civic Soup CIC

Everyone was full of excitement to get started on site. Our first task, as would be the manner every morning was to acquaint everyone with the team, the site, each other and the day’s activities. Inside the Wikihouse BAM had invited a plasterer to teach the team how to progress with the internal finishes. The team took turns to break from the timber cutting outside to start constructing plasterboard box-outs around the windows and start taping and plastering all the joins. With all the structural timbers cut by the end of the day the team de-briefed and reflected over a well-deserved hot chocolate. This was a valuable opportunity for the design team to gauge the success of the day as we reflected and shared what we had all enjoyed learned and what could be improved for the team taking part.


Having cut all the timber we needed for the canopy, our aim for Tuesday was to have the
canopy fixed to the Wikihouse. As the bones of the canopy were going up before our eyes, the local kids started to arrive. We let them loose spraying the roof panels with some fresh paints provided by BAM, which resulted in the addition of a velociraptor and a butterfly to the vibrant range of patterns already on show. Wrapping up the day at 4.30pm in our soggy work wear, we headed back to Edinburgh ready for a warm brew and an early night.



Credit: Civic Soup CIC

On Wednesday, we spent an intense day on site with a dynamic group of volunteers. The team from BAM construction set up their mobile scaffold and climbed onto the roof, where they started affixing some PVC panels beautifully decorated by the kids from BSAP. Meanwhile, some of the group focused on plastering the inside of the building. On the outside, we made progress on cutting and attaching battens to the sides of the building. Later in the day, we were able to attach some plywood panels onto the battens, starting to weatherproof the building.


Working with a new team everyday was intense and challenging, demanding a certain time investment that allowed for people to gel. Thursday was a day that proved the importance of visual results and progress in order to motivate a group in collective action. Earlier in the week, the workshops mainly consisted of crafting and preparing individual components; often tedious. However, Thursday was a day of coming together to rapidly assemble and fix components and the roof became more colourful by the hour as the children’s graffitied panels were offered up to be fixed to counter battens. Logistical issues throughout were overcome by the hard work and will of a team of volunteers that wished to see their contributions made meaningful through the completion of varied goals and objectives. As a learning process for the Civic Soup team, it begs the question of how these moments of activity can be better spread throughout workshops. In future projects, how might they be used as a tool for bringing people together through shared experience, momentum and a willingness to give?


There was a very positive atmosphere on site today. The weather had turned around, and despite it probably being the coldest day, it was very sunny throughout. For the first time the safety fence surrounding the construction site was taken down and Alan (playworker at BSAP) prepared a fire nearby. Marshmallows were handed out and we had a place to warm up. This led to a more fluid workflow, greater integration of the kids that were now gathering on the site and an appreciation of the space as a whole. However, it also meant more supervision and responsibility, as all the tools were now exposed and potentially causing hazards. When the last panel went on there was a lot of pride and relief. Even though there was still a day’s worth of work to do, it was great to see the Wikihouse so close to finish, looking very similar to the design plan on paper.

Overall this entire week has taught us an invaluable amount of new skills. It has helped us as a team to draw closer, whilst making new friends and connecting to a great community.


Credit: Civic Soup CIC

Laura Haylock, Billy Morgan, Cameron Bray, Calum Rennie, Silvan Gottschall

Festival of Creative Learning: Beyond Boundaries


It’s just over two months since I started as Projects and Engagement Coordinator for the Institute for Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh. It has been a fascinating and joyful time, and I’m especially excited as the Festival that I am looking after is taking place next week.

It’s called the Festival of Creative Learning, and this is the first year of the Festival proper, though it has evolved from something called ‘Innovative Learning Week’ which ran for 5 years (learn more about ILW here).

After an intensive period of development led by the previous Festival organiser, the brilliant Johanna Holtan, the Festival of Creative Learning emerged, and it’s a privilege to be able to continue all the good work that has gone into making the Festival what it is and to think about how it can continue to grow in future.

The Festival aims to provide space for staff and students at the University of Edinburgh to play, to experiment, to innovate, to collaborate and, dare I say it, to fail. How precious, how rare it is to discover this sort of space – where the emphasis isn’t on how many seats we fill, how many tickets we sell, how many answers we get right, but rather on truly exploring and pushing boundaries, communicating in radically new ways and leaping into the dark to find out what’s there.

Our goals are to help staff and students create innovative, experimental and collaborative ways of learning in a safe space, to give people the training and support they need to design and run events, and to celebrate the work of all our event organisers and the discoveries we make together along the way. By its very nature and commitment to openness and diversity, the programme covers an enormous range of disciplines and activities, and we encourage everyone to peruse our events calendar to get a sense of the depth and breadth of the events on offer.

Rather than running each of the events ourselves (our fabulous but small team includes my colleagues Lucy Ridley and Silje Graffer), we seek proposals from staff and students, distribute funding, provide a platform and communications umbrella for the events and aim to empower our staff and students to get the most out of what we provide. We hope that the Festival is a learning experience not just in terms of the research being conducted but also in events design and management, imparting vital skills to organisers that they can make use of in future employment, study and enterprise.

Much work is being done to explore the future of learning and teaching, and learning that involves doing and which empowers students rather than treating them like inanimate vessels to be filled is on the forefront of what appears to be not only the most effective but also the most enjoyable means to growth. We want to celebrate the idea that we learn better when we are enjoying ourselves, when we are treated with care and respect, and when we are encouraged to use our imaginations and to play.

The Festival will continue to develop, and we’ve already gathered a long list of ideas about ways to make the Festival even more useful, expansive, innovative and attractive (and do get in touch with your own suggestions), but first our team is going to visit as many of the events as we can in person to see the extraordinary experiments that our organisers have brought to life. We hope you will take the leap as well and join us for at least one of our events next week, and consider developing an idea for a Festival Pop-up event throughout the year or for an event for the Festival of Creative Learning 2018. In the meantime, keep an eye out for our hashtag #FCL17 on social media, where we’ll be telling stories and posting photographs all next week.

You can read more about the aims and values of the Festival here, and you can book tickets for our events here. Many of the events are aimed primarily at staff and students at the University, however the following events are open to external attendees and can be booked via Eventbrite: Introduction to Massage in Schools Programme, Manifest Destiny: A Multidisciplinary Forum on Mars Colonisation, Design for Wellbeing, Biffa tour: How does recycling work?, Learning Language Through Theatre, Making History: a Feminist Craft Project, ‘Camelot, tis a silly place’: Popular Culture and Scottish Heritage Castle Trip, Tech Art Collaboration Workshop and “The Birds and the Bees” Board game.

Here’s to learning without boundaries, in ways that celebrate the creativity inherent in each of us.


Jennifer Williams

Projects & Engagement Coordinator

Institute for Academic Development

Featured Event- The Birds and the Bees Card Game


Happy World Penguin Day by Christopher Michel, under a Creative Commons license


Do you love watching penguins swim and play when you visit the zoo? Do you enjoy honey in your tea? If we don’t take action to protect species like honeybees and Galapagos penguins, these experiences might not be around for much longer. As team member Sonal Katyal passionately remarked during the early planning stages of our project, “I want my daughter to be able to see all of the beautiful creatures we have in the world today. I want her to experience the wonders of nature.”

A love for nature and the environment is what initially drove us to create a card game about environmental conservation and endangered animals. We wanted to raise awareness about these important issues and inspire people to become more environmentally responsible citizens, so that future generations will still be able to enjoy all of the wonders of nature that we have today. At the same time, as a team of Science Communication masters students, we are always looking for new and exciting ways to communicate science to a wide array of audiences. And thus, “The Birds and the Bees” card game was born!


Bee by Adam Gold, under a Creative Commons license

We have two different versions of the card game, one about Galapagos penguins and one about Hawaiian bees, both of which are endangered species. Our card game includes fun, cute animal facts like “Galapagos Penguins bow as a show of friendship and sometimes give each other gifts!” In the game, participants act as an endangered animal (either a penguin or a bee) and have to use the cards in their hand to overcome the obstacles and threats presented to them. It will require an element of creativity and reasoning, as participants must be able to justify how their cards can combat the obstacles they face. For example, when faced with the “Moulting!” card—(“You are moulting and can’t go swimming for 5-10 days”)—a person could use their “Preening” card (“Strengthen a bond with some mutual preening”), arguing that they will make a new friend to catch food for them. Anything goes, as long as you can tell a story behind your decisions!

We want the card game to be as straightforward and accessible as possible, so no prior knowledge about science or the environment is necessary! The game is suitable for anyone who can read – just arrive with an inquisitive spirit and a willingness to learn a new game. We will be creating an eco-friendly immersive environment in which to play the game, complete with animal soundtracks and living plants! Going along with our goals of sustainability and environmental consciousness, we have also created the game pieces from recycled materials. The game should only take about 20-30 minutes and we will be set up all day in the Potterrow Dome (in Bristo Square) from 12:00 to 19:00 on Friday 24th February, so feel free to stop in anytime!

Our environment is filled with amazing forms of life (penguins and bees, to name a few!), and everything is deeply connected: each species has a special role that allows our ecosystems to work. So we have to take care of each other if we want to continue enjoying the wonders of our home!

Molly Osborn


If you like the sound of this event you may also be interested in: Board Game Jam: The Expansion, Design for well-being: modelling villages for 21st century, Bees to Bugs, See and Inspire Art Exhibition

Featured Event – Equality and diversity in the work place: a reflection on reality with Ben Lyon, from Transport for London


Equality by Roger Jones, under a Creative Commons license

Equality and diversity issues in the workplace have been hotly debated for many years… and yet, there seems to be no shortage of possible solutions to the many difficulties that individuals face, whether in terms of access to work, to carrying out tasks as part of their roles and to reconciling these with family duties or personal circumstances.  Whether this is to do with gender, social milieu, disability or other health conditions, a common conundrum remains: how can we live healthy and productive lives where we can cultivate our professional aspirations and at the same time maintain a happy, serene and accomplished personal life?

As a woman, these questions have always been close to my heart: it is not just about the “glass ceiling”, but generally and more deeply about living a full life as a professional, a spouse and a daughter.  Having lectured now for more than 11 years, I have discussed these same issues with students umpteen times… and it just so happens that one of my best, brightest students ever is now deeply involved in helping individuals grapple with these questions so that they can truly live this “full life” in their own workplace.

I have known Ben Lyon for many years: he was one of my undergraduate and later masters’ students at the University of Liverpool where he graduated with an LLB and an LLM.  We have since kept in touch and I can say with full confidence that he has made me truly proud: he is not just a very accomplished professional. He is also a person with a deep social conscience, who is very passionate about gender equality and who has translated his commitment and his passion in his current role.

Ben is a real role model in my opinion, a person who has harmoniously reconciled his life as professional in a large and complex organisation such as Transport for London with his civil commitment to these important principles.  I am extremely pleased that he has accepted our invitation to speak in Edinburgh on Wednesday 22nd February as part of the University’s Festival of Creative Learning.  His example will no doubt ignite discussion and hopefully offer a model for other students to follow.

Arianna Andreangeli, Senior Lecturer in Competition Law, Edinburgh Law School.

If you like the sound of this event you might also be interested in: Making History: a Feminist Craft Project, Wikipedia Editathon: Gender, Global Health and Justice, Dash Kapital: Neoliberalism, Gender and Victimhood in Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Rediscover Edinburgh – orienteering for health