The RoundView has been developed and tested in Dr. Joanne Tippett’s research in the School of Environment and Development at the University of Manchester. This research started in 2000 and has involved iterative cycling between theoretical insights, in particular from systems thinking, and testing these insights in practice, working in collaboration with a wide range of partners at multiple levels of scale. There is more information about this research and the publications it has led to on Joanne’s university webpage.

In Joanne’s PhD and Postdoctoral research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Mersey Basin Campaign, she developed a toolkit that encourages participation in integrated catchment planning. Partners included: Irk Valley Project, NWDA and Forestry Commission and GroundWork.

The action research involved developing a plan for Moston Vale, a former landfill and the lower valley of the River Irk in Manchester. Working with community members and stakeholders, creative visions were developed and tested against a sustainability framework based on The Natural Step, which provides much of the basis for the RoundView. Moston Vale has since been regenerated based on the plan developed with community members, and transformed into a country park with £1.7 million funding.

A  further research project with the Environment Agency and Manchester City Council in 2005 helped develop the principles behind the action-based learning approach used in the RoundView. You can download the project report Joining-up’ participation in environmental planning – developing a learning resource for capacity-building. This action research involved running a workshop for the launch of Manchester’s Green City Network with over 100 participants.

The work was further developed in three related research projects funded by the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) at the University of Manchester, running from Nov. 2008 – May 2010. There were all related to sustainability skills in the workplace. It was during this research that the accessible training about sustainability as a positive vision for the future became known as the RoundView. the research explored how to embed sustainability learning throughout Tesco.

A total of over 250 Tesco staff have engaged directly with the research. 30 staff in Stores and 48 staff in Head Office attended training during five rounds of action research with staff from the shop floor to senior management. An additional 105 members of staff attended interactive focus groups as part of the research, and an additional 70 members of staff have attended subsequent training.

The response from Tesco staff was overwhelmingly positive, the tenor of which is indicated in the following quote: “A new business model for Tesco is required; the whole world needs to make the changes now. I am surprised how much I have changed my work and personal life with the knowledge I have.” (Tesco Head Office participant on RoundView course).

Comments in the feedback on the learning initiative included:

  • “Learned lots more than I thought. The systems approach was new and helpful and the principles were clearly explained during the courses.”
  • “I thought I knew how it worked before, but I was wrong.”
  • “It has made me think about what Tesco does and how I can start to think / become a potential agent for change.”

You can download the two key reports from this research here:
Improving Sustainability Skills and Knowledge in the Workplace

Scaling-up – Learning to embed sustainability skills and knowledge in the workplace