GEES Subject Centre
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) – Focus Group
Tuesday 26 April 2005, Create Environment Centre, Bristol
Education for sustainable development Chester style – Cynthia Burek
University College Chester now has no environmental science degree. Our last students are in
their third year. Thus we looked for ways of embedding environmental education in the life of the
college through the Environmental Task Force and work based learning. This is a case study with
a difference. The ETF has been operating for 4 years and has achieved considerable success.
Nearly all students undertake wbl in their second year and they must evaluate as part of their
reflective assessment the effect their work life has had on their environment.
Cynthia Burek, Department of Biology, University College Chester
Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Education for
Sustainable Development – Alan Dyer
The CETL aims to transform the University of Plymouth from an institution characterized by
significant areas of excellence in education for sustainable development (ESD) into an institution
modeling University-wide excellence and, hence, able to play a leading national role in helping
HEIs, the HE Academy and subject-based communities to implement and deliver the learning,
teaching and estates components of HEFCE‟s sustainable development in higher education
strategy and action plan.
A Centre for Sustainable Futures (CSF) is being established. The CSF Academic Core Group,
composed of a Director (Professor David Selby), an Associate Director (Alan Dyer), ten Centre
Fellows and a team of three researchers, will be the driving force for change, initially working to
widen and deepen excellence in ESD provision in areas where excellence is already
demonstrated before extending excellence outwards to second and then third wave faculties and
schools. The Core Group will encourage CPD-led curriculum innovation and the production of
high quality ESD learning materials across the University, design new ESD programmes including
a Masters in Education for Sustainable Development and generic undergraduate and graduate
modules (customizable by discipline); promote and undertake pedagogical research; develop a
University actual and virtual resource centre (the Sustainability Commons), and drive the CETL‟s
internal, regional, national and international dissemination programmes.
Key to the CETL is the linking of programmatic and pedagogical innovation with the greening of
the campus and partnerships for sustainability with local authorities, the corporate sector and civil
society organizations across the South West. Key CETL partners include Schumacher College,
internationally renowned for its courses on sustainability themes, and Forum for the Future, the
United Kingdom‟s leading sustainability charity that was central to the 2000-3 Higher Education
Partnership for Sustainability (HEPS) Programme.
Students across the University and its network of 18 partner colleges will be provided with
opportunities to engage critically with sustainability agendas and their social, ethical, professional
and personal implications. The impact on student learning will be reinforced through opportunities
for action research projects into the greening of the campus and into community and regional
sustainability initiatives. A key criterion for evaluating the CETL will be the level of sustainability
literacy achieved across the student body, so that they leave the University equipped with the
values, skills and knowledge to drive the sustainability agenda forward in their personal and
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Deployment of an Active Learning Curriculum to Enhance Student Learning
about Sustainability – Mary Dengler
In 2004-2005 Royal Holloway, University of London launched the MSc Sustainability and
Management. This programme, jointly taught by the Department of Geography and the School of
Management, focuses on corporate social responsibility and environmental governance for
sustainability and prepares students for careers in businesses, NGOs, government or doctoral
studies. This poster focuses on the deployment of an active learning approach to enhance
student learning about issues of environmental governance for sustainability. I deploy this
approach in and beyond the classroom in one of the two core courses on the MSc: GG5300 –
Principles of Sustainability. Classroom activities include participatory activities, problem-based
learning, a commitment to guided discussions, and integration of writing exercises. For example,
practical challenges of governance are explored through activities such as mock multi-national
climate change negotiations and the role-playing of fishers‟ behaviour in a common fishing
ground. An on-line discussion forum extends the learning experience beyond the classroom and
especially offers a „safe‟ space to enhance participation of students that were quieter in guided
classroom discussions. The on-line discussion forum particularly promotes enhanced
contributions of non-native English speakers (50% of the class). The on-line discussion forum
offers an additional tool beyond classroom writing exercises and coursework essays for the
students to improve their ability to concisely present written arguments. The in and beyond
classroom experiences empower students to achieve the learning outcomes and particularly
foster their skills in critical evaluation and originality in argument and interpretation.
Dr. Mary Dengler
Lecturer in Environmental Geography
Department of Geography
Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX
Delivering Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): Southampton
Institute, School of Maritime and Coastal Studies – David Johnson
Southampton Institute articulates closely with the proposed support strategy for sustainable
development in higher education (HEFCE, 2005). Key elements are:
Curriculum Core elements within established courses, sharing best practice through
the Higher Education Academy, staff expertise
Community Regeneration projects fostering local community development, enterprise
partnerships, a volunteering unit, professional links
Campus A physical estate that purchases renewable energy, staff travel loans for
public transport, investment in energy control for buildings
The purpose of this paper, however, is to illustrate how the School of Maritime and Coastal
Studies represents a leading example of how ESD can be delivered by a department, particularly
relating to applied marine geography.
ESD underpins several maritime course curricula. Students engage in the sustainability debate
at all levels with an aim of raising sustainability literacy using corporate CSR materials, country
profiles and case studies. Of particular value recently, in terms of highlighting the dilemmas
posed by sustainable decision-making, has been the environmental impact assessment
associated with expansion proposals put forward for the Port of Southampton. The Dibden Bay
Inquiry generated extensive supporting information. Local stakeholders have lectured to student
groups and a role play has been devised to illustrate some of the complexities. Both theoretical
and applied research directly underpins ESD. Doctoral research developing a sustainability
standard for coastal management has explored the antecedence of sustainability and worked with
coastal management practitioners to achieve operational measurements (Gallagher et al., 2004).
Students are also given an insight into the debate relating to the sustainability of cruise tourism.
Evidence suggests that profound challenges confront policy makers wanting to convince both
vested interests and tourists to adopt a more holistic and longer-term view (Johnson, 2002).
Consultancy on behalf of WWF-UK reviewing sustainable shipping issues has involved
representation to both UK Government departments and the International Maritime Organisation.
A momentum to move shipping beyond compliance and address the most pressing environmental
impacts is being generated. Projects have included an audit of global green shipping initiatives,
briefing papers for industry and work on Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas. This work has inspired
student dissertations, produced an opportunity for industry to comment on and influence the
Southampton Institute curriculum and fuelled other aspects of advanced scholarship (e.g.
attendance at the meeting of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators). The
School is working with Southampton City Council on a European Project seeking to strengthen
the port community. NEW EPOC is a capacity building initiative, sharing information, identifying
and addressing common problems. As a consequence maritime graduates are in a position to
inform and champion the sustainability agenda. Many are doing so worldwide.
David E Johnson, Professor of Coastal Management, Head of Maritime
Piloting of a Higher Education Continuing Professional Development
Course Portfolio: Application of Sustainable Development and Global
Citizenship – Larch Maxey
This paper outlines the experiences gained so far in developing this Welsh Assembly
Government (WAG) funded project. The present project is seen as a pilot project which it is
hoped will be rolled out to Institutions throughout the UK. This paper aims to provoke and
encourage in-put from Focus group participants they can be fed into the on-going evolution of the
project. Finally, based on experiences gained so far, the paper suggests that there needs to be a
far more rigorous and consistent engagement of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) &
global Citizenship (GC) if we are to facilitate the sustainability transition.
a) Sustainability crisis and the need for engaged citizens:
A commitment to sustainability is now widespread throughout every level of HE provision, from
funding bodies such as WAG and HEFCW to the teaching and research institutions themselves.
As the recent Tsunami events in South East Asia have demonstrated, environmental, social and
economic crises are inseparable. Yet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
continues to warn of massive social, economic and environmental disasters if we do not take
urgent measures to curb emissions of „greenhouse gases‟. Sustainability and Global Citizenship
are about recognising the inter-linked nature of problems such as climate change, habitat loss
and accelerating global inequality.
b) Experiences with ESD and GC in Swansea.
Swansea is fortunate to have a group of people working in Higher Education (HE) committed to
ESD & GC. At the University, for example, since 2002 we have developed a Certificate of HE in
Sustainability, which draws on local practitioners and lecturers to deliver classes on a range of
aspects of sustainability. Equally, since 2003 we have been developing a generic, stand alone
module „Living Sustainably‟. This is the first course of its kind to employ such close co-operation
between Swansea Institute of HE and University of Wales Swansea. Both initiatives have
attracted a range of participants, including undergraduates, post-graduates and mature students,
including academic and non-academic staff.
Getting Sustainability and Global Citizenship into CPD
We intended to offer this SD & GC course to all new academic staff within the University of
Wales, Swansea in the first instance. However, although we had organised a slot in the general
staff induction sessions, the funding did not come through in time to allow this. This was actually
a blessing in disguise! It meant we were not restricted to a 15 minute slot within a mandatory
Instead, we developed a lunch-time, hour-long session, repeated on different days of the week to
maximise capture of those able to attend. We provided a sustainable lunch, using this food to
further promote sustainability. It took some negotiation with the Catering Department to agree the
most sustainable menu, which featured local, organic and fairly traded food. The feedback from
the first session was very positive and was used to further develop the second session,
lengthening the „pre-session‟ arrival, food and meeting participants section, for example.
Sessions so far have including a mixture of one-way presentations (on background issues,
definitions and HE case studies) and interactive exercises (ecological footprinting, visioning a
sustainable institution and a postcard exercise where participants consider actions they can take
in the short, medium and longer term). Three people have facilitated each session, maximising
teaching styles and the potential for interaction.
The sessions have been made available to all staff as we wish to be inclusive and seek to
develop ESD and GC throughout every sphere of the University. However, part of the project
involves research into existing practice on ESD and GC within HE‟s generally and CPD
specifically. From this it is already becoming clear that institutions such as University of Wales
Swansea find it easier to begin implementing sustainability & GC within the more functional, or
administrative sectors than within the curriculum.
a) It is clear that a single hour session is insufficient to deal with all the issues surrounding
ESD & GC! Within University of Wales Swansea we propose to organise a further series
of sessions and follow-up events as well as an email discussion list to support staff adopt
and promote sustainability.
b) We will be developing the materials from these pilot sessions so they can be
implemented in other HE‟s, including Swansea Institute, which has already expressed
c) We have devised a model for integrating various levels of ESDGC for CPD and will
develop a shorter 15-20 minute session which will complement the above (see Project
d) We will post all the materials on the web, having fully translated them into Welsh.
e) We plan to disseminate our experiences and the material as widely as possible
throughout Wales and beyond.
(See also Overview map of WAG Project attached)
Dr.Larch Juckes Maxey
University of Wales, Swansea Prifysgol Cymru Abertawe
Singleton Park, Parc Singleton,
Swansea SA2 8PP Abertawe SA2 8PP
Sustainable Development Training by CD-based Distance Learning –
A project internally funded by the University of Glamorgan, was commenced in March 2004 to
develop a new module “Tools for Sustainable Development” which would be an option in the
successful MSc. courses Environmental Conservation Management and Coastal Conservation &
Management. This module was first offered in September 2004.
The module would be studied principally via a CD-ROM, supplemented by use of the Blackboard
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), internet access to University-based data sources and a one-
week programme of workshops and tutorials at the university. The mode of delivery was
intended to make the module accessible to learners without the necessity to attend weekly
lectures at the University. This could widen participation, ease timetabling and increase study
flexibility. Total time input on content development was 125 hours, comparable to the time
required to produce conventional learning material for a 20-credit, Masters-level module.
Main course material was contained on a single Word document, equivalent to approximately
175 A4 pages. This comprised an introductory section, an outline of the concept of sustainable
development, 12 main sections (one per Tool) and glossary. Most sections contained
hyperlinks, explanatory graphics and examples, often taken from real case studies. The three
assignments students were required to submit were included, as well as self-assessment
exercises. The CD also contained 36 supporting documents totalling 20Mb to form the main
background reading and assist students with the assignments. A printed version of the main
learning material (Word document) was made available at a cost of £5 per copy - only two
students requested copies.
The module was the most popular of the three options (the others being Coastal Change &
Conservation and Tropical Environmental Field Ecology), amongst MSc. students with 17
students enrolling on it. The most important findings were:
Checking approximately 200 hyperlinks to external information sources was a time-consuming
task as inevitably some changed their address and/or contents;
Problems were found with the Blackboard Digital Drop Box system, possibly related to large
file sizes. Reducing resolution of graphics would address this problem;
Self-assessment exercises need to be closely connected to the content of the actual
The module content initially presented a challenge to students accustomed to technically-
based material rather than sociological and management-based content. However, feedback
comments at the end of the workshop week were very positive regarding the relevance of this
material to the MSc courses;
Making the first assessed material relatively straightforward, accustomed students to using the
hyperlinks on the CD and supporting material to find simple information. While the task of
accessing material in a novel way may have been challenging at first, once this was done the
required information was easy to find and built up the student‟s confidence.
Previous discussions on distance learning have often mentioned the large amount of staff time
that needs to be devoted to dealing with student queries via telephone and e-mail. The time
spent in this case appeared to be no more than for a conventionally-delivered module. Overall,
the learning format used was judged highly efficient and cost-effective in delivering learning to
Morgan, R., Sillence, G. and S.A.B.M. Rose
BUS SHELTER UPROOTING AND PHONEBOX BURSTING: Any
Compliments for Youth Sustainability Awareness? - Victor Olumekun
There is ample evidence in literature to suggest that environmental awareness has grown
immensely, particularly among the youth as an outcome of Environmental Education/ Education
for Sustainable development. However, it appears that the same group of people are becoming
more destructive of public utilities/facilities than ever before, without any obvious provocation or
reasonable justification. The same group of people are content with buying a McDonalds meal for
use as missiles instead of eating. It is therefore apparent that environmental education itself only
presents the basic tools for decision making without equipping the individual with the
will/willingness to act. There is therefore need to investigate the motivation for destructive
behaviour amongst the youth and to present viable strategies to address the issue. This means
that such strategies must motivate positive action on issues of conservation/wise use of
resources. A holistic approach is therefore needed and this may have to permeate every area of
life including impinging on personal freedom!
Environmental Studies & Biology Unit, Liverpool Hope University College, Liverpool.
From Agricultural Sustainability to Sustainable Development – Julian Park
I have been offering a final year module relating to issues of sustainability for 10 years, mainly
offered to students from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD), although
picking up elective students from other Schools within the University. Class size fluctuates
between 20 and 30 between years. Originally the module was entitled agricultural sustainability,
with learning outcomes focussing on the environmental, social and economic aspects of farming.
However, over the last 6 years the module has evolved to reflect the greater diversity of student
interests within SAPD (and indeed my own interests) to focus more on rural issues and less on
agriculture and taking on a global focus. The luxury of having smaller class sizes means that the
teaching style has always been interactive and discussion oriented with small group work, case
study examination and debates. Students are asked to read and prepare material each week for
the following session, in some instances related to summative assessment. Examples this year
include formal debates on climate change and soil erosion which were group marked and a
further discussion session on the contribution of GM crops to sustainable systems. For this
session a world renown GM scientist was invited in to give a very positive case for GM crops
whereas students were asked to prepare themselves to argue against him. This session worked
extremely well. Although time-consuming I give each student a 15 minute viva at the end of the
module which forms a small part of the assessment. This is also regarded as preparation the
finals viva that many will be undertaking in the summer term.
The module continues to evolve and I have been in discussions with our Department of
International Development about offering a module which focuses more on “approaches to
sustainable development”. This will include issues relating to the global sustainability debate and
the policy responses and mechanisms which are evolving followed a series of mini-projects and
cases to evaluate and improve the sustainability of a range of rural systems in the context of
social, economic and environmental change.
School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
The University of Reading
Sustainability in the curriculum [from HEFCE 2005 consultation on ESD] –
Kingston University has responded to the challenge of delivering sustainable education by undertaking an audit
of sustainability in the curriculum. www.kingston.ac.uk/sustainability
Priorities and objectives
An audit to determine where and how sustainability is delivered in the curriculum, as a springboard for new
curriculum developments and delivery.
Cross-subject links between curriculum developments and the sustainability agenda.
Identify opportunities for related research and consultancy.
Contribute to the development of a university-wide response to government initiatives and benchmarks, and
maintain awareness of developing legislation and policy initiatives.
Promote sustainability awareness throughout Kingston University and engage all staff and students with that
A first step was an audit and university-wide survey. This sought to evaluate the following: personal knowledge
of the concept of sustainability; perceptions of Kingston‟s performance in terms of sustainable environmental
management; the role of subject-related professional associations and institutions in driving or inhibiting change
towards sustainable development; and perceived barriers to extending the volume and content of sustainability
teaching within curricula.
The audit identified some key constraints:
existing curriculum overload
perceived irrelevance of sustainability issues to the curriculum
benchmark requirements of accreditation bodies
lack of immediate staff expertise
expectations that students would regard issues as irrelevant, or be unable to grasp them.
Notwithstanding the barriers identified, the audit revealed that 93 per cent of respondents were keen to establish
seminars, internet exchanges, a newsletter, and further development of the sustainability intranet and web-site to
raise awareness and support. Three key recommendations for action call for:
wider dissemination of the audit findings
practical initiatives to demonstrate commitment
a university-wide management system to drive the sustainable development agenda.
The audit also identified specific solutions to enable the development of sustainability-focused curricula, as
empowerment of course teams and the encouragement of cross-faculty, cross-school and cross-
disciplinary initiatives in module and course design
deeper engagement of tutors and students in the design and delivery of sustainability-focused modules,
building on student interest and commitment
promoting an inclusive approach to staff development in sustainability education
improved and directed communication
resolving issues of course structure, including the resource base and course review and validation
Progress to date
Key milestones have been achieved, driven by the establishment of a sustainability steering group and the
commissioning of the university-wide audit. A cross-university post of „sustainability facilitator‟ and a
postgraduate assistant post have been funded to manage the process. Progress has been significant and holistic
a section of the web-site collating sustainability activities at Kingston University and external information
pertinent to sustainability
ongoing mapping of sustainability activities at Kingston
a national conference
curriculum developments that now begin to link student work with practical and „real‟ learning objectives
embedding of sustainability through a five-year programme for concerted action in five key areas
outline approach for an environmental management system
development of promotional „joining pack‟ materials for new students for 2004
successful bid for HEFCE funding under the second round of the Higher Education Innovation Fund.