PhD Education, 2020
From Aberdeen to Educational Innovation
Double graduate of the University Dr Aristea Kyriakou reached the final of the Study UK Alumni Awards for her commitment to outdoor education.
She was shortlisted for a Business and Innovation award for her start-up ‘Greek and Green’ language school which aims to take learning outside.
Dr Kyriakou’s project has now attracted more than 15,000 followers on social media and she has students ranging in ages from 17 to 82 from countries across the world including the UK, USA, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Switzerland and France.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic she has been teaching Greek online from her home in a rural area of Northern Greece close to Thessaloniki.
The sessions are all tailored to the interests of the individual and can be offered on a one-to-one basis or to groups.
Dr Kyriakou explains: “I see the future of education as utilising the outdoors and bringing fresh air to lessons. Every school can use its school grounds and the philosophy of outdoor education is that it provides the know-how for school communities. Everything has been transferred online for now, but I am so looking forward to being physically present again.
“The project has been exclusively crowdfunded on my KoFi platform, where the development of the project took place, exclusively based on my supporters and students from all over the world. I’d love to hear from anyone interested from the University community, who would feel inspired to contribute to the project or have any suggestions. This could be in the form of research project, internship or even a professional partnership. My aim is to build value in many different disciplines and further progress Greek and Green. I’d be excited to work with anyone who has a passion in this area.”
The education enthusiast first came to Aberdeen in 2014 for her second master’s degree in social research where her topic was schools and school grounds. She completed an undergraduate degree in Education Sciences in Greece followed by a master’s degree in Sweden.
She began her PhD in 2015 researching the use of school grounds in education.
Dr Kyriakou said with her love of outdoor activities Aberdeen was the natural choice for her third and fourth degrees.
She said: “Aberdeen was my first choice. I wanted to find out more about this subject that interested me so much. I contacted my supervisors – I had read their work during my first masters. I interviewed and was accepted and was thankful to receive a scholarship from the Onassis Foundation. My supervisors Professor Donald Gray and Dr Laura Colucci-Gray were so supportive.
“Aberdeen as a city was beautiful. I had many breaks during quite a hard PhD programme in Seaton Park and I enjoyed getting out into the countryside to go hiking and running. I also loved being near the sea.
“I was quite emotional to reach the finals of the Study UK Alumni Awards because I couldn’t go to the physical graduation ceremony for my PhD. It is an honour to represent the University of Aberdeen as studying there has shaped the person I am now.”