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Global Systems Institute

Our ethos

Our aims

  • To help achieve a flourishing future for humanity as an integral part of a life-sustaining Earth system. 
  • Unite a trans-disciplinary group of researchers, educators and partners to look beyond single ‘environmental’ issues to a truly systemic view of coupled global changes in the human sphere and the biosphere.
  • To better predict global changes through understanding the interactions between the climate, natural ecosystems, human social and economic systems, and the built environment.
  • To provide diverse stakeholders with an appraisal of the options to create a better future together.
  • Create innovative courses to train a new generation of sustainability leaders.
  • Establish an interconnected approach to research, education and impact, with engagement at its centre, and underpinned by core values.

Our values

Approach and values

GSI is built around an interconnected approach to research, education and impact, with engagement at its centre. Our inaugural Retreat, involving academics from every campus and College, helped identify a suite of core values for the GSI that have shaped the new academic strategy and are becoming embedded in our approach: 

  • Co-production: We will co-produce knowledge with partners (including citizens), through an inclusive, deliberative and responsive process, developing new areas, debating, experimenting, and finding solutions.
  • Trust: We will be a trusting workplace and a trusted source of information to guide individuals, industry and policymakers in making better decisions.
  • Diversity: We will value the contribution of diverse disciplines and partners in solving complex sustainability problems through diverse methodologies, approaches and structures.
  • Integrity: We will embody our sustainability ideals in our work, operational practices and building.
  • Humility: We will be reflective on the role of science and evidence in shaping sustainable futures.
  • Openness: We will be open and inclusive in our research, education and impact activity.
  • Risk-taking: We will support risk-taking in pursuit of innovative and transformative solutions and seek out under-researched areas of societal concern, unbound by discipline or spatial scale.
  • Engagement: Global engagement will be embedded within our purpose, practices and people.
  • Creativity: We will build creative, innovative, transdisciplinary insights into environmental, ecological, social and economic processes for building sustainability.
  • Supportive: We will widen research, education and impact horizons across all career trajectories.

Our internal culture

Community and culture is one of the most important aspects of the GSI.

As part of our culture we champion kindness, wellbeing and community within GSI because too often as academics we feel over worked, stressed and under recognised by our colleagues and our employers.

At GSI we understand that co-locating people and building a research network isn’t enough to build a community. People need to be free to interact, share and importantly be supportive of one another as well as have a bit fun! Therefore, we aim to foster a pro-social atmosphere within the GSI and treat people as individuals in order to best develop our collective potential toward generating sustainable solutions into the Earth’s future.

You can find out about our growing number of initiatives below. (is yoga still happening?)

David Hume wrote ‘Of all crimes that human creatures are capable of committing, the most horrid and unnatural is ingratitude’ this affects our relationships with one another, animals and the planet, so is critical to all aspects of GSI.

Gratitude is an emotion, a virtue and a moral sentiment. It is not simply a social construct; it is has deep roots embedded in our evolutionary history, our brains and DNA. Nearly all animals engage in ‘reciprocal altruism’. There are specific areas in the brain involved in gratitude and specific genes that may underlie our ability to express it (see the White paper for the John Templeton Foundation but the GGSC, UC Berkeley).

Gratitude has been described as a social glue where research suggests that gratitude inspires people to be more generous, kind, and helpful (or ‘prosocial’) and strengthens relationships, including improving the community in workplaces.

Gratitude is a two-step process:

1)      recognising that one has obtained a positive outcome

2)      recognising that there is an external source for this positive outcome

So often do we fail to recognise our own daily successes and therefore assume that it goes without recognition. We at GSI want to break this cycle to build a community that is kind and responsive to our colleagues and throughout collaborations to improve our working environment.

As part of this we offer those in the GSI the opportunity to send notes of gratitude to their colleagues to build a culture around recognition of even the smallest of things, that make our community more positive as a part of our Let’s Grow Gratitude initiative. In order to send one of your colleagues a gratitude postcard please complete this online form and we will send out a GSI designed, sustainably sourced hand-written post-card with your unique message direct to their office.

And yes, the hand written old fashioned post-cards are a deliberate choice too. Emails are a source of stress and perceived as impersonal. Wouldn’t it make a hard day seem better if you received a note of gratitude? Wouldn’t it make you feel valued?

Let’s grow and share our gratitude throughout our community and start making Gratitude Cultural Shifts.

Athena SWAN

The Global Systems Institute supports and champions the work being carried out at the University in relation to the Athena SWAN Charter.

The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. In May 2015 the Charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

Our membership

The University of Exeter is a proud member of the Athena SWAN charter and we have held a Bronze institutional award since November 2011. All our Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) disciplines hold individual Athena SWAN awards at either Silver or Bronze level. 

We are dedicated to enhancing and promoting gender equality throughout the University; recognising the importance of ensuring our institution is an inclusive, diverse and supportive environment for both staff, students and the wider Community. We are actively committed to embedding the 10 Athena SWAN principles within our organisation through policy, practice and change.

» Find out more about Athena SWAN