Professor Jim Longhurst in front of the Whole Earth hoarding

Strategy, leadership and responsibility for Education for Sustainable Development at UWE Bristol

ESD Strategy

UWE Bristol's Strategy 2020 guides all activity within the university. One of four priorities within this Strategy includes commitment to ensure that UWE graduates are “ready and able to realise their full potential; well equipped to make a positive contribution to society and their chosen field of work or further study; and primed to play their part in developing a sustainable global society and knowledge economy".

The achievement of the ambitions outlined in Strategy 2020 is being realised via the implementation of four strategic programmes; Learning 2020, Campus 2020, Performance 2020 and Ways of Working 2020. Learning 2020 is explicitly aimed at ensuring the delivery of outstanding teaching, learning and student experience. This work is being framed by UWE Bristol's Graduate Attribute Framework which identifies five core competencies which every UWE graduate will display: Self-reliant and connected, ready and able, enterprising, globally responsible and future-facing. Collectively these encompass a sustainability literate graduate.

The university, in conjunction with the Students' Union, is currently implementing its Sustainability Plan 2013-2020. This plan was developed in conjunction with and signed off by UWE Vice-Chancellor, The Students' Union at UWE Bristol President and the Chair of the UWE Bristol Board of Governors. The plan details objectives and KPIs relating to all aspects of sustainability at UWE Bristol, including education for sustainable development. Each theme has its own annually revised action plan. The most recent ESD Action Plan can be found under Sustainability Documents.

The embeddedness of sustainability issues into our institutional strategy and the strategic programmes derived from it, is the result of years of commitment by passionate staff, including senior leaders. The university is now in a position whereby sustainability is present in the terms of reference and responsibilities and expectations of all staff and students. This ensures that it is not only core to the provision of formal teaching and learning activities but also to the informal activities and physical/cultural context which also form a critical part of students' learning experience.

ESD Leadership and Responsibility

UWE’s Sustainability Board has responsibility for the implementation of the Sustainability Plan 2013-2020. This board (which meets quarterly) includes representation of institutional leaders, professional and academic staff, as well as students. Subsequently, there is regular engagement with these groups on sustainability issues. Further, the Sustainability Board reports to the Vice-Chancellor's Advisory Board, thus reaching the most senior management of the university. The annual ESD reports approved by the Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee.

UWE's Assistant Vice Chancellor (Environment and Sustainability) represents the university's most senior role explicitly responsible for the implementation of sustainability across the institution, both in relation to estates management and curriculum. This level of seniority demonstrates the university's commitment to ensuring that sustainability is core to our decision-making processes.

UWE created the post of Senior Lecturer in Education for Sustainable Development specifically to progress our engagement with ESD. The role includes responsibility for ESD in the context of: Student engagement, staff development, academic quality management and Sustainability Plan implementation via leadership of the ESD theme. Further, the post holder is responsible for the development of teaching and learning resources, coordinating UWE's cross institutional Knowledge Exchange for Sustainability Education, mapping sustainability activity across UWE, supporting the Green Team and other relevant SU initiatives and UWE reputation raising activities.

The Senior Lecturer in ESD works closely with staff from across UWE’s academic and professional staff to promote a coherent and consistent ESD experiences for staff and students. Each academic department has a representative on UWE’s Knowledge Exchange for Sustainability Education (KESE) and this facilitates a flow of information, knowledge, ideas and experience between the institution and academics on ESD objectives and implementation. Further, UWE’s Sustainability Engagement Officer works to develop and coordinate practical and academic events and activities for staff and students, and to facilitate academic engagement with UWE Bristol’s campuses.

ESD is also progressed by permanent and elected staff within the Students’ Union at UWE. Sustainability is included in the job descriptions of both the Community Manager and the VP Societies and Communication. Further, the Students' Union has a dedicated Sustainability Officer and Green Team Co-ordinator. A sustainability policy was unanimously approved in November 2015 committing the SU to, among other things; work with the university so that all courses include issues of environmental sustainability and social responsibility to ensure students graduate with an understanding of these issues and to embed environmental sustainability and social responsibility aims and purposes in its strategic plans. The Union has charged the SU President with the responsibility for this policy.

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