Sustainability banners outside Frenchay Campus

Our approach to Education for Sustainable Development

UWE Bristol has embraced a holistic approach to education for sustainable development (ESD). We believe that ESD means offering curricula that provide the opportunity for all students to engage with sustainable development within the context of their discipline of study. We also place great emphasis on providing a range of co-curricula activities and opportunities that are linked to sustainable development.

To deliver this, we must integrate our people and places and recognise their value to our learning, teaching and research. This means harnessing the knowledge, innovation and enthusiasm of our staff and students for delivering positive change; developing and managing a sustainable campus infrastructure; and, facilitating sustainable operations and culture change interventions.

Quality management

Our Quality Management and Enhancement Framework (QMEF) incorporates consideration of education for sustainable development and the Teaching and Learning Strategy of the University implicitly uses education for sustainable development as a pedagogic driver.

UWE Bristol's Quality Management and Enhancement Framework makes explicit reference to and use of both the QAA-HEA ESD Guidance and HEFCE's Sustainable Development in Higher Education framework as context for the consideration of ESD within annual curriculum monitoring and curriculum approval and review processes. A guidance document for staff is available to help them to understand the principles and potential applications of ESD and the university’s commitment. UWE Bristol’s Senior Lecturer in ESD provides specific staff development sessions for staff on how to meet the university’s expectations of ESD with curriculum development and review processes.

Partnership with students

Partnership and collaboration lie at the heart of our education for sustainable development (ESD) approach. UWE’s partnership with the Students’ Union at UWE has provided a strong foundation upon which to build a comprehensive offer of education for sustainable development. This partnership enabled us to submit a large and convincing body of evidence against the criteria of the NUS Responsible Futures ESD accreditation scheme, which we have achieved. Further, our ESD objectives and action plans focus on bringing people together, staff and students from across disciplines, services and backgrounds. This approach enables us both to draw on the strengths of all members of the UWE Bristol community and to ensure that we promote understanding that sustainability is relevant to everyone.

Students are represented on all UWE Bristol's major boards and committees, including those with a core focus on sustainability, curriculum and/or student experience. As such, the student voice forms an important part of discussion and decision-making in relation to these issues. These fora are the most important mechanisms for student interest and concerns to feed into curriculum development and review. Staff Student Liaison Committees provide a direct link between academics and students, whilst the Students' Union pay a vital role in gathering and collating student views to feed into formal consultation channels. Sustainability is frequently raised in these fora as a result of institutional activity and student interest. The Academic Board is the highest level of academic governance at UWE Bristol.

Our external partnerships are also extremely important and through our partnerships with local, regional, national and international organisations, we are able to ensure that we contribute to the development of happier, healthier, more sustainable communities and that our students develop the ability to apply their knowledge and skills to real world sustainability challenges. UWE Bristol’s strong links with the Bristol Green Capital Partnership provide many opportunities for students to volunteer, undertake live projects, work with a variety of organisations to help to build a happier, healthier Bristol. Skills Bridge is a mechanism for external organisations to connect with and draw upon the skills of students via placement, internship, project, volunteering and other opportunities.

Partnerships between staff

Education for Sustainable Development encompasses knowledge and skills development and the encouragement of a global, future-facing world view. This requires provision of opportunities to both learn about global challenges and to engage in real world experiences. At UWE Bristol, our academic staff work across discipline boundaries, between teaching and research, with our Employability and Enterprise teams, with UWE Volunteering, with student experience teams and with our Students’ Union to ensure that our students have multiple and various opportunities to develop knowledge, skills and attributes aligned to sustainability literacy and action.

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