There are many ways that universities can reduce their environmental impact and improve their performance in relation to sustainable development. Due their size, their purchasing power and number of employees there are so many opportunities to adopt more sustainable behaviours.
However, arguably the biggest impact that institutions can have is through their education programmes and engagement with their students and the impact of this work should not be underestimated. Most students will graduate from their university with, hopefully, a 30 to 40 years career ahead of them and this provides a unique opportunity for institutions to contribute to wards a sustainable world. The time span in questions coupled with the number of students who graduate each year provides a double whammy for a more sustainable economy and society.
Providing students with the skills and knowledge to contribute to sustainable development is known as Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Our approach to ESD is through a number of mechanisms one of which is our ESD Forum. Led by Dr Andrew Reeves the Forum meets on a regular basis to share knowledge, information and ideas around embedding ESD into the taught curriculum.
The Forum has organised and run a number of workshops on ESD to engage with academic colleagues on how ESD can be brought into formal and informal learning and the opportunities that exist to do this. This might include lectures, workshops, student trips and international visits.
The Forum also led on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Teach In. The aim of the SDG Teach was to raise awareness of why the Sustainable Development Goals should be at the heart of further and higher education, and help catalyse the change needed to make this happen. Co-ordinated by the NUS the campaign encouraged universities and academic staff to pledge to include information about the SDGs in their teaching during the Teach In week. Over 30 institutions took part with 257 academic staff pledging which engaged with over 16,000 students on the issues of ESD and the SDGs.
The ESD Forum is also leading on the Responsible Futures programme, which is run nationally by the NUS. Now into its second year at DMU, the Responsible Futures programme, is a whole-institution approach to embedding social responsibility and sustainability across the formal and informal curriculum. It is a supported change programme and accreditation mark that works to put sustainability at the heart of education.
Responsible Future is a framework to assist in creating an enabling environment for staff and students to work together to embed social responsibility and sustainability into teaching and learning. It seeks to legitimise and mainstream education for sustainable development, ultimately helping to ensure students leave education with the knowledge, skills and attributes needed to lead society to a more just and sustainable future.
The ESd Forum at DMU is going from strength to strength and there are some ambitious plans for the future. If you’d like to be part of what the Forum is doing or if you’d like to find out some information just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org