Wilson Lecture
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2016 John Arthur Wilson Memorial Lecturer -- Rachel Garwood

The 57th John Arthur Wilson Memorial Lecture will be presented at the Annual Convention by Rachel Garwood,  Director of the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies (ICLT), Northampton, UK, at 9:00 am on Thursday, June 23, 2016.


The title of her presentation is

"Leather Education - Preserving the Past...

Investing in the Future."

Rachel Garwood joined the leather industry in 1989 as a lab technician at BLC, Leather Technology Centre in Northampton. During her time there she undertook several roles on an international level starting with problem solving for the tanners, management of EU research projects and progressing onto business development and finally technical support and training throughout the leather supply chain. Academically, BLC sponsored Rachel to study for a BSc (Hons) in Applied Biology followed by an MSc in Leather Technology. In 2008 Rachel joined The University of Northampton (UoN) as a Senior Lecturer within the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies (ICLT) before undertaking the role of Director in 2011. During her time at the UoN she has tailored education programmes to better suite industry needs together with extending outreach activities to cover the whole leather supply chain from live animal to bespoke end products “Hide to High street”.

The abstract for her presentation follows:  "Challenges facing the leather industry" is often a topic for discussion: these commonly include environmental legislation, the need for green chemistry, traceability, ethical sourcing and the list goes on.  One issue that is crucial for the sustainability of the global leather industry and is often overlooked is "succession planning."  With large cohorts of employees due for retirement between now and 2020, the demand for quality leather graduates is ever increasing, placing a larger reliance on higher education.

The importance of leather education is clearly demonstrated by the success of John Arthur Wilson himself.  During his two years study at the University of Leeds he became an award winning student under the renowned Professor Henry Richardson Proctor, both of whom made significant contributions in the field of leather science and are still referred to in modern leather science education today.

In this review, the history, the present and the future of leather education are explored.  What has driven the transition from "chalk and talk" to delivery via virtual space?  With advanced information technology we are also facing a changing student and today's student does not expect to be spoon fed the facts.  Today, they have ready access to information on the internet, so classroom delivery takes on a very different picture.  Modes of delivery now incorporate social media, discussion boards, blogs alongside tutorials and seminars.

The ability within education to address these changing demands and an understanding of the ever changing market pressures will support the sustainability of our high value industry.