This project aimed to expose historically disadvantaged built environment students from the Arup Education Trust (AET) to interdisciplinary international thinking and experience. During November 2016, an academic from the University of Cambridge, Dr Francesco Pomponi, visited Johannesburg to run a workshop on embodied carbon with the AET’s tertiary beneficiaries. The University of Cambridge’s Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) programme and Wolfson College then hosted the AET’s top final year performer for 2016, Comfort Matlakala during April 2017 for one of the Masters programme’s residential weeks. Susan Snaddon (one of the trustees of the AET and an alumna of the IDBE) accompanied her to the UK. Comfort had never before owned a passport or been on an aeroplane.
It is significant in that it directly addresses sustainable development goals 4 and 5 (the AET has at least 50% female beneficiaries) and exposes the students to the interdisciplinary thinking which is a feature of the IDBE programme and a key value proposition for Arup.
‘It was a brilliant day, with roles shifting throughout the workshop so that no one was in charge of holding any superior knowledge. It was beautiful to see that shy students grew in confidence as time went by and everyone was genuinely interested and engaged when the day ended’
"Comfort joined a cohort of students who had already worked together during five separate course weeks, but seeing the way she got stuck straight in to the teamwork for the week’s studio project, it was hard to believe she hadn’t been on the course from the beginning."
"The highlight of my week was working on the group project. I loved the fact that groups were made up of individuals from different professional backgrounds within the built environment and this made the group discussions very interesting and it enabled individuals to learn from one another."
"It is incredibly rewarding to see historically disadvantaged students engaging with visiting academics in workshops and also seeing one of our beneficiaries participating with international masters level students in a stimulating environment such as Cambridge."