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What does meaningful education for sustainability look like? New series of short video resources available

Date: November 25 - 2022

As world leaders gathered in Egypt earlier this month for the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27), we were reminded of the important role that higher education has to play in educating and preparing students to transition society towards a sustainable future. QAA has previously developed Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) guidance alongside Advance HE to support higher education institutions to incorporate ESD within their curricula.

We invited each of our ESD-focused Collaborative Enhancement Project teams to share with us what meaningful Education for Sustainable Development looks like from their perspective and how it is supported in their work. You can now access a series of short video resources to hear their views.

First up, we have Students Driving Curriculum Quality for Sustainability, led by the University of Gloucestershire in partnership with the University of the Arts, London, and Kings College London. The project team is working closely with students to test and develop shared standards in ESD, which do not yet exist - assessing the depth of sustainability in higher education course offers, and pushing to mainstream ESD for all courses, not leaving it to optional modules or specialist pathways.

In the video, Bea Hughes, Student and Education Sustainability Co-ordinator at the University of Gloucestershire responds:

'There are too many answers to this question and it's causing confusion. Newcomers might see it through the lens of science or the UN Global goals, and academics might see it through the lens of their specialism, but we don't have any standards for all courses on this. This needs to change. We need this to be in all courses not just the green subjects, and we need it in the core modules, not just the options. We need everyone to get this learning and we need applied real-world learning, not just abstract knowledge, that makes a difference in our careers, whatever we go on to do.'

In the second video, Dr Rehema White (University of St Andrews) introduces Monitoring and Evaluating ESD in Higher Education. Following an analysis of existing approaches to monitoring and evaluating ESD, the project team will develop principles and tools using quantitative measures and reflective approaches that strengthen the learning experience. The online resources will be adaptable and deployable across the sector at department, faculty and institutional level.

We also hear De Montfort University's take on ESD and Academic Quality. The project team is co-developing a resource to make the alignment of ESD to staff and student academic quality processes more straightforward, providing templates and a range of institution-specific approaches to help inform future practices.

The final video, Developing Phenomenal Learning, introduces the project led by Staffordshire University, in partnership with Harper Adams University which focuses on Phenomenon Based Learning as an effective pedagogic vehicle to build on the Education for Sustainable Development Guidance. The project team will generate an evidence-informed Project SDG 4.7 Toolkit and further Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) to support the sector to work with students in the co-creation and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals and equitably within the curriculum, via Phenomenon Based Learning modelling.

Find out more about the ESD Collaborative Enhancement projects via our website. Education for Sustainable Development is one of the key QAA Membership Themes for 2022-23. Find out more and explore what’s coming up in our membership programme.