02/07/2014 09:30 BST | Updated 19/08/2014 06:59 BST

Surfing Research Part of One of the Best Degree Programmes in the Country

This week represented the conclusion of an academic year. Let me make it very clear, this does not mean I am now on holiday. Far from it, there is a considerable amount of work to do in preparation for next years teaching and a pressing need to continue the research agenda.

The end of this part of the year is represented by the SAP (Subject Assessment Panel). This is where an expert in our subject area comes to the university to scrutinise our work over the year to ensure quality is high and there is consistency in standards. For us this is the internationally renowned academic and very inspiring figure, Professor Joyce Liddle. And for a second year running Joyce described the BSc (Hons) Public Management and Business programme in the School of Government at Plymouth University as:

An exemplary programme and if not one of the best of its kind in the UK, it may well be the very best. It's forward thinking and topical, demonstrating excellent teaching and learning with very committed staff and good quality facilities.

Building on this we have now introduced the Programme Friendship Initiative which draws on a pool of leaders in the Public and Private Sectors to mentor students in different areas of public organisation's and business. For Joyce this;

is exactly how educational provision should be shaped, developed and delivered in a globalised world, to ensure state of the art research, knowledge exchange and practice across sect oral and organisational boundaries

This initiative consists of leaders from organisations such as Virgin Atlantic, Network Rail the NHS, Surfers Against Sewage and more, and this is growing on a weekly basis. In the end there is only so much a lecturer can actually teach and hearing about life as leaders in the public sector and business from those that are actually doing the job is invaluable.

Sticking with the surfing theme, this coming year we will be building on these strengths to once again improve the programme. This takes the form of the introduction of a new module that will explore transitions to sustainability in the public and private sectors through the medium of surfing. Using surfing as a medium provides a fascinating perspective on so many emerging debates that draw on the interrelated areas of environment, economy, society, politics, culture and more. This new module will look at some of these interconnections using real world examples and research with insights from those in the vanguard of change. It also enables students to see the connections between the global and local levels which, as Joyce pointed out above is essential in a globalised market.

The module will draw on the cutting edge research that is coming out of Plymouth Sustainability and Surfing Research Group, The Center for Surf Research, at San Diego State University, who already use surfing in their curriculum, and draw on experts across the world. And of course, it goes without saying that as a leader in ocean and maritime research Plymouth University offers its own expertise.

This research led teaching approach means that students have access to the most up-to-date work in the field both published as well as work in progress. It looks at the complexities innate in making transitions to sustainability and equips students with a realistic understanding of the world in the public and private sectors, not only within the surfing world but also beyond. It will of course benefit from the insights that are provided between the covers of Sustainable Stoke: Transitions to Surfing in the Surfing World.

For me, there is always an emphasis on sustainability education and this means going beyond the traditional lecture based model, getting students innately involved in the learning process, not as passive receptors of knowledge but as active participants in the learning process. And as is clear from Joyce's comments, it's working.