The University of Gloucestershire prides itself on its education traditions and is dedicated to the use of pedagogies that empower people to engage with and respond to complex and unpredictable global and local scenarios. As part of our commitment to sustainability, we are committed to bringing the best of current dialogues about ‘education for the future’ into our efforts across the formal curriculum, co-curriculum and our culture of institutional learning. We use the term Education for Sustainability (EfS) for our work in this area.
Our Strategic Approach to EfS
EfS is a Key Performance Indicator for the University and an important influence on our Learning and Teaching Strategy. In its Strategic Plan 2012-2017, the University committed to a staged process of embedding EfS across the curriculum, as new courses are developed and existing courses are revised and improved. The University’s Sustainability Strategy outlines the institutional approach to sustainability across both academic and corporate portfolios, including education, research, student experience and public engagement.
Leading Curriculum Change for Sustainability: National Project on EfS and Quality
From 2010-2012 we led a groundbreaking sector project to explore how EfS could become a key educational quality priority in the future of the higher education curriculum. This was a unique initiative, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, in collaboration with the Quality Assurance Agency and five universities. Each institution developed a pilot project to find ways to connect EfS with its quality assurance and enhancement systems, in alignment with key corporate priorities and education agendas. The experiences are captured in our online resource, the Guide to Quality and Education for Sustainability in Higher Education.
EfS and the Curriculum
The University has a tradition of EfS innovation and in 2008 EfS became a strategic education priority. To progress and support our own organisational development in EfS, we:
- Develop approaches to EfS that make sense for different subject areas or professional pathways, with tailored support and professional development for teaching staff and teams.
- Lead and participate in national HE projects, provide expert seminars and run high profile events; as well as sourcing guidance, funding and resources to encourage innovation.
- Support colleagues in gaining national recognition –staff have achieved awards and shortlists for their EfS work in the competitive Green Gown awards every year from 2007 to 2012.
- Have several National Teaching Fellows with specific interests in EfS, who have led projects in this area awarded by the Higher Education Academy and other funders.
Professional and Curriculum Development: Learning for Sustainable Futures
In 2012 we launched a new scheme to support professional and pedagogic development for staff through small grant awards that open up the connections between EfS and our Learning and Teaching Strategy. Learning for Sustainable Futures projects take place across and between faculties or via professional departments involved in education and learning support.
At the heart of EfS is the impulse to reorient education systems so that they empower people to better understand, engage with and take action on sustainability, recognising that:
- Engagement with sustainability will be different across professions, societies, communities and organisations – and our education systems need to reflect this variety.
- Sustainability is an ideal geared to improving human prospects whilst preserving ecosystems, embracing issues as diverse as food security, wellbeing, climate change, social justice, biodiversity and corporate responsibility.
- ‘Sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’ are contested, shifting terms, used differently in fields such as conservation, urban planning, public health and international development.
- EfS connects with specialist expertise on sustainable development, but it is about more than providing people with the latest expert knowledge on high profile sustainability concerns.
- The foundations of EfS are in pedagogy: learning processes that enable people to rethink cultural patterns, critique existing practices and develop new ways of living and working.
EfS is also known as Education for Sustainable Development, Learning for Sustainability or Education for Sustainable Futures. Its core principles are reflected in documents published by UNESCO for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD) and in our EfS Guides for staff.
EfS sees sustainability as a learning process that involves people, groups and organisations making sense of sustainability in relation to their changing concerns and specific scenarios. Our EfS work:
- Involves professional bodies, national associations and international partners, as well as collaboration across our local and regional communities through the RCE Severn, our United Nations University Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) in EfS.
- Promotes social, informal and organisational learning through the University’s Sustainability Practice, Student Union sustainability initiatives, Chaplaincy work and community projects such as the Edible Garden.
Universities connect with many professional and academic communities, so our responses to sustainability as a learning process take many forms. Our aim as a learning community is to develop further links with the formal curriculum through these activities.
Our Expertise and Profile
The University is recognised as a hub of leading practice, strategic thinking and innovative projects in EfS, with several strands of activity:
- Our strategic approach to institutional change, which led to a Green Gown award in 2010 and selection as an exemplar of leading practice by the Higher Education Academy.
- We are regularly invited to provide expert guidance, through workshops, keynote addresses and specialist input to universities looking to advance on EfS, in the UK and worldwide.
- Our International Research Institute in Sustainability (IRIS) works on commissioned EfS research projects for governments on several continents and international agencies such as UNESCO and the European Union, keeping us connected with global developments in EfS.
- We host PhD students through scholarships and support researcher development in this area through the PRISM: Postgraduate Researchers in Sustainability Matters network.
For more information about our EfS work please contact us:
Professor Daniella Tilbury (Director of Sustainability): email@example.com
Dr Alex Ryan (Associate Director of Sustainability, Academic): firstname.lastname@example.org