Education for Sustainable Development

Should every student be prepared to bring a ‘sustainability perspective’ to their chosen field of study? If so how do we ensure Universities and Students’ Unions prepare students for living and working in a global society?

Following funding from the NUS Students' Green Fund in 2013, the Guild set up the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) project, which aims to start a journey with our students and the University to discover how we can view education and subjects differently and in context with major global challenges.  

This project has already linked in with the NUS/HEA national research and gathered extensive student opinion on ESD and identified the transferable knowledge and skills around sustainable development that will help all students make a positive contribution to society in their future workplaces or lifestyles. 

in 2014 year we recruited over 20 students as Green Course Ambassadors who helped with this student led research, using surveys and focus groups. The results are in the project report but the key findings are:

  • 94% of our students think the University should be promoting sustainable development.
  • 76% would like to learn more about it.

The results were also presented to the University Senior Executive Committee by then President, Sam Butler, and were also delivered to the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2014 by two of our Ambassadors, Simon Ogwang and Zhou Quinsu.

Since then we have continued our research and carried out major evaluations of the impacts of our Seed Fund (Enterprise projects) on the students involved and these have helped us to further inform the University response to Education for Sustainable Development through the cross-institutional ESD Working Group which is now firmly established. 

This year we have been part of the 'Campus Green Space' task group which has brought together students from Geography and Planning, Engineering, Life Sciences and Business Management to turn their combined efforts to investigating and reporting on ways in which the campus can be more sustainable. As an integral part of their modules of study this has pioneered a new inder-disciplinary approach to learning and culminated in an impressive presentation event in the Mountford in December 2015. The great news from this is that this education project has been selected as a FINALIST in this year's prestigious Green Gown Awards, hosted by the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC)

Project teams present their proposals on a more sustainable campus 

Project teams from Geography and Planning present their ideas for a more sustainable campus (Dec. 2015)

This term we will be continuing the Education for Sectainability lecture series with a superb line of of events. Full details can be found here.

Whether you are a student or a member of staff there are lots of ways to get involved:

  • Volunteering - for example with our roof garden, beekeeping or aquaponics installation
  • Research - how is sustainability included in your curriculum area?
  • Inter disciplanary teaching - linking up with students from other disciplines to get different perspectives on real-world issues

To find out more please contact Dave Wheatley, Green Guild Manager

This is great but.... What is Education for Sustainable Development? And how does it work?

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is given numerous definitions but it can most simply be described as education that aims to give students the knowledge and skills to live and work sustainably i.e. ensuring social, ecological and economic well being now and into the future.

Liverpool graduates are encouraged to become truly global citizens, benefiting from an international curriculum, and empowered to address global challenges. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) will be a vital element in ensuring that students develop the skills needed to adapt to these challenges. 

There is a lot happening around ESD and many Universities are starting to embed education for sustainable development into their curriculum. The 'Future Fit Framework', published by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) suggests the following: 

  • The need to embed ESD within the curriculum;
  • The importance of relating ESD to other important initiatives such as ‘employability’, ‘enterprise’, ‘quality’, and ‘internationalisation’;
  • The need to prepare people to cope with, manage, and shape social, economic and ecological conditions characterized by change, uncertainty, risk, and complexity;
  • The importance to ensure cross-disciplinary, cross-Faculty and cross-institutional working since sustainability issues cannot be understood through single disciplines; 

With major change happening in Higher Education it’s time to get Students Unions involved - the Guild believes in representing student interests on education and so we have set up the ESD project to find out what skills for sustainability and employability a Liverpool graduate can gain through the formal curriculum or by getting involved in extra activates run through the Green Guild project.