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Education for Sustainable Development in the curriculum

UWE Bristol is working to ensure that all programmes of study provide opportunities for students to explore the meaning of sustainable development in the context of their discipline. For some programmes, like Environmental Science or Geography, nearly everything students study is concerned with sustainable development. For others, the engagement with sustainable issues will be less direct, and often linked to professional practice or employability elements of the programme. In all cases, we are increasing and enhancing the opportunities available to students through the curricula for engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals (see Policies, Plans and Targets for an overview of our Sustainable Development Goals mapping work).

UWE Bristol has developed modules and programmes which explicitly focus on sustainable development. The following case studies are indicative of the breadth and variety of UWE Bristol’s Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) provision. Our MSc Sustainable Development in Practice is an interdisciplinary programme which enables staff and students to work together on sustainability-related teaching and learning. Students within the Bristol Business School on programmes BA Economics, Business and Management, Business Management with Economics, Accounting and Finance, Business and Management with Accounting and Finance share a second year module titled Good Business, Bad Business and Sustainability. Assessed learning outcomes for this module include the ability of students to demonstrate 'a developed understanding of the economic value of ecosystem services and environmental sustainability' and be able to 'evaluate actions and performance of an organisation in relation to corporate social responsibility, business ethics and sustainability'.

Our Green City MOOC

During 2015, UWE Bristol developed a massive open online course (MOOC) called Our Green City. This course was developed by academic from across UWE Bristol, in collaboration with organisations and students. Participants of the course included UWE Bristol staff and students as well as individuals from across the world. Online collaborative communication tools enabled participants to share their learning and experience with other participants. The course boasted a global reach, with some 2000 participants registered, it affected citizens from all over the world. Impact of the course can be inferred from the commitments participants made to changing their behaviour after undertaking the course. Actions included people promising to “grow my own salad vegetables and share seeds and produce with my neighbours”, “work on making a septic system that could create fertiliser for surrounding gardens, fields ", "make every effort to make less visits to the supermarket and more to the local retailers", "introduce plants and wild plants to my own front garden, and share ideas with neighbours", "use green energy and look for those non-profit companies that promote their green energy" and to “Cycle more it is free it is healthy”!

Department of Architecture and the Built Environment

Students within the department of Architecture and the Built Environment undertake a shared interdisciplinary module in level 3, titled Collaborative Practice. These students are registered on Real Estate, Quantity Surveying, Property Investment and Management, Interior Architecture, Architecture, Architecture and Planning, Architectural Technology and Design, Architecture and Environmental Engineering, Construction Management, and Building Surveying courses. This module enables these students to represent their discipline in tackling real world built environment challenges and to gain an appreciation for the professions with which they will need to work after graduation. One of the learning outcomes for the module is that students will be able to reconcile the external constraints that impact on the environment and the need to provide sustainable, healthy and low carbon lifestyles and buildings.

Design, Materials and Manufacturing

Design, Materials and Manufacturing brings together first year students on BEng/MEng Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Engineering, and FdSc Mechatronics. Learning outcomes include students being able to show an understanding of materials properties and the impact of the choice of material and processes on the environment'.

These are just examples of ways in which sustainability infuses our curriculum across all of our disciplines. Work is also being done to consider our pedagogic approach to ESD. For example, within the Bristol Business School at UWE Bristol, students have been able to experience an alternative pedagogic method of post-graduate (management) education: a field trip, which combines student-led, inquiry-based learning approach with a critical collaborative reflection on the theme of ‘environmental degradation as a business opportunity in a contemporary global context’. The Bristol MBA programme has an established tradition of integrating into its curriculum a non-compulsory study-trip based activity where students are given the opportunity to engage with “live cases” related to various aspects of ecological crisis, globalisation and development. Research into the effectiveness of this approach is ongoing and includes consideration of cohort diversity and the multidisciplinary background of the academic team.

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