College Excellence Teaching Commendation: Enhancing food and recycling awareness and engagement in second year management students via creativity and systems thinking

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


The innovation brings information, systems thinking and creativity techniques to help students identify and tackle complex issues related to food recycling and waste management.

In management education, it is often the case that students are encouraged to be creative, and this easily translate in ‘gather your group mates for brainstorming’. This is rather unfortunate, given the opportunity to infuse creative thinking in students from different perspectives and with many more techniques.

In my course of creative process management (MN2515) I have incorporated the presentation and practical use both in workshops as well as in group assessment of divergent and convergent creativity techniques. There is a group assessment (presentation/podcast and group report) to help students to learn more about complex situations related to food recycling or waste management, enabling them to generate diverse understandings and possibilities for improvement. To achieve this, students choose a situation and elaborate rich pictures about it (Checkland, 1981). These are visual devices that help represent the complexity of situations and debate about possible improvements. Students populate these pictures by using the rich picture guidelines and also creativity techniques like playing alien, using random words or analogies/metaphors (Córdoba-Pachón, 2020). When they think of solutions to address issues identified as problematic, they use the six thinking hats technique (de Bono, 2019) to guide their group discussions and refine their initial solutions to make it more creative and impactful. In their report, they are encouraged to reflect on their experiences by narrating how they used these techniques, and what learning they got from doing this.

In 2021 and after engaging with group work (also supported during workshops where formative feedback was provided to those who wanted it), a representative of a company that develops anaerobic food digestion (AD) technologies (LeapAD©,, accessed April 2022) was invited to speak to students of this course. The company were positively impressed by the quality of some of the rich pictures presented (done with Kumu© software at the time), and agreed to take two school students via the college summer internships. One student of this course was selected to work with myself and the director of accommodation services. She elaborated a rich picture about recycling in residences and buildings and presented it at a meeting with accommodation services, estates management and Grundon © (current college recycling company). After, the student also collaborated with LeapAD© to present an overview of AD to the college in November 2021 at a Cop26 workshop. Engagement with LeapAD© continues, and it might be possible again this year to propose new internships about improving food recycling at the college.

Checkland, P. (1981). Systems Thinking, Systems Practice. Chichester (UK): John Wiley.
Córdoba-Pachón, J.R. (2020). Managing Creativity: A Systems Thinking Journey. London: Routledge.
De Bono, E(2019). Seis Sombreros para Pensar (Six Thinking Hats). Barcelona (Spain) : Paidós.
Degree of recognitionNational