Students in lecture involving Education for Sustainable Development

Supporting staff and students with Education for Sustainable Development

UWE Bristol supports all staff and students in their engagement with education for sustainable development.

Induction and HR Processes

All new academic staff at UWE Bristol undertake our Post-graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. UWE Bristol's Senior Lecturer in Education for Sustainable Development delivers a session as part of this programme. You can watch a reduced online film version of this presentation (login required).

UWE Bristol staff induction for all new starters includes explicit coverage of social responsibility and sustainability (SRS) issues; the staff welcome pack includes information on sustainable travel options (currently being updated); new staff attend a welcome fair which includes a presentation by UWE Bristol's Sustainability Engagement Officer; sustainability is included in the Induction Checklist issued to managers of new staff; and, finally, all new staff complete an online induction which includes a sustainability component.

Supporting Staff

Since 2011, annual ESD surveys and meetings have been conducted with all Heads of Department. The survey includes questions on current levels of sustainability understanding and ESD engagement by staff and this information is supplemented by interviews with Associate Deans (Teaching and Learning), academic quality managers and departmental KESE reps. Such discussions yield valuable detail about knowledge of, attitudes towards and practice of staff in relation to ESD. Annual ESD reports document our continued monitoring of staff awareness of and engagement with ESD. This report is approved by our Sustainability Board and Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee. It is available to staff and students via our sustainability web pages. Information from theses process help to guide the development of ESD training provision for staff.

Sessions on ESD are provided for staff on an individual basis or as part of a programme team, departmental for a or event. These opportunities provides space for staff to explore what ESD means in the specific context of their teaching, learning and research and to share with and learn from the experience of other academics. Every academic department has an ESD representative who sits on our internal Knowledge Exchange for Sustainability Education (KESE). In 2014, these reps prepared presentations on ESD within their department. Videos of these presentations are available as a resource for all staff (login required). Our annual all staff ESD day brings together staff from across the institution for shared reflection on ESD successes and progress over the year and interdisciplinary learning.

Our Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education for new academic staff explores the pedagogic opportunities to embed sustainability in the curriculum whilst our annual ESD staff day provides a range of experiences, sharing opportunities and enhancement activities. In addition, development sessions are available for department management teams, programme and module teams to explore opportunities for including sustainability considerations in the formal curriculum and wider activities of our academic community.

Knowledge Exchange for Sustainability Education

A cross-University staff group Knowledge Exchange for Sustainability Education (KESE) is charged with promoting, encouraging, challenging and leading academic engagement in education for sustainable development. The membership of the network is drawn from the four faculties of the University and from professional services. In meeting the responsibility placed upon it, the KESE group are vital to the implementation of the University-wide Education for Sustainable Development Action Plan. All staff can access the KESE SharePoint site (login required), which serves as a resource point for further information about the group's activities and as an information hub for events, documents and links in the field of Education for Sustainable Development.

KESE has produced resources to support the teaching of sustainable development at UWE Bristol. These resources include a generic slide set about sustainable development from which academics can extract relevant material and discipline specific resources. For more information about KESE, email the Senior Lecturer in Education for Sustainable Development.

The KESE group are currently leading a project to map academic programmes and disciplines to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to develop opportunities for staff and student engagement with the SDGs.

Supporting Students


Since 2013-14 UWE Bristol has run a sustainability coursework prize. The prize is designed both to incentivise students to select sustainability-related topics where possible and to create a showcase of student sustainability work.

At the end of each academic year, the Faculty of Environment and Technology and Bristol School of Art and Design host degree shows to showcase the work of students to internal audiences, the public and businesses and organisations. During 2015, a sustainability guide to each show was produced to celebrate relevant work of students and promote awareness of and engagement with social responsibility and sustainability.

In 2015, UWE Bristol signed up to the NUS Dissertations for Good initiative. The programme is promoted to both undergraduate and postgraduate students across all disciplines.

Informal Curricula/UWE Volunteering

UWE Bristol’s Green Internship Scheme offers funded placements which allow employers to tap into our student talent and give students a potential first step into a green career. Among the many successes of this scheme was its support for the Bristol Green Capital Partnership in its preparations for the successful 2015 Green Capital bid.
UWE's Volunteering Team promote numerous opportunities for students to undertake informal volunteering within the city of Bristol and the communities within it and further afield. Volunteering opportunities with an explicit sustainability focus are separately identified. Students can, for example, volunteer to help local schools to deliver Forest School activities for children.

UWE Bristol Volunteering run two of their own sustainability focused volunteering projects, namely Green Space Volunteers and Green Ambassadors. GreenSpace is UWE Bristol Volunteering’s student-led conservation project. Working with local groups looking after green spaces near Frenchay Campus, the project aims to support conservation and enjoyment of these sites. Green Ambassadors work as a team to take their knowledge and enthusiasm for green issues into local schools to run 4-5 themed workshops. Workshops may be around: climate change, sustainability, energy use, renewables, water, sanitation, food and food waste, healthy living, biodiversity and more.

The Green Ambassadors Project works in partnership with schools and community groups to help to teach children in Bristol about the importance of sustainability and how they have the ability to contribute to a greener city. The project began in 2013, using groups of student volunteers from the BSc Creative Product Design programme to plan and deliver a series of workshops based around topics of climate change, sustainability and energy to school children. Workshops are usually delivered in Spring term. The project has been a great success with the volunteers and the children attending the workshops alike. Students from the university are given support for developing engaging and inspiring teaching and workshops for the children.

The team behind UWE Bristol Green Space endeavour to protect, maintain and improve valuable areas of woodland in the local area. Splatts Abbey Wood and Sims Hill are in close proximity to Frenchay campus and those behind its preservation are always grateful for the support and efforts of students from UWE Bristol. Students volunteer on a fortnightly basis to tackle a particular area of woodland with the aim of restoring respectability and beauty. One project involved students on behalf of ‘UWE Green Space’ tidying and reshaping, organizing a pond area at Sims Hill. They transformed the area into a more socially viable and friendly destination. Many other gatherings have resulted with a similar success – making the woodland areas a safer, more attractive area for people to enjoy. David Bell from Splatts Abbey Wood Conservation Group said, "The Splatts Abbey Wood Group is incredibly grateful to UWE Bristol Volunteering and the UWE Bristol Student volunteers for their help and support. The students have been enthusiastic and hardworking, and are a credit to themselves and to UWE Bristol. They are helping to get a lot of important work done. The Splatts group is also delighted to be able to offer students the opportunity to volunteer and enhance their experience and skills".

Students’ Union

The Students’ Union is a critical partner in our ESD provision. The SU President and Vice President for Societies and Communication sit on the Sustainability Board and are supported by the Community Manager, Green Team Co-ordinator, Sustainability elected representative and Retail Manager.

The Students' Union Green Team is a student-led group with an interest in sustainability and a passion for exploring ways to create positive change on campus and in the Bristol Community. Members of the Green Team have the opportunity to be involved in an exciting programme of events, training, activities, talks, workshops and volunteering. There are a variety of opportunities for students with varying levels of commitment and knowledge.

The Students' Union provides financial support for student-led projects via the Green Team. Change for Change was created to provide students who are interested in running a project, event or campaign with staff support and a budget. The Students' Union Volunteering Team has a further start-up fund to support students who wish to create and run a volunteering project on campus or in the local community. Student Societies have access to resources in terms of staff time, equipment and also go through annual budget requests for funding. Students’ Union supported projects include: Green Wheels, Still Good Swap Shop, Bristol on Two Wheels, Made Local Christmas Market, What’s the Catch?, Tree Party, Food Waste café, #saynotoplastic, Community garden, #ThinkGreenbeGreat, Gardening and Growing Action Day.

Students can also engage with sustainable development through other Students' Union societies, for example: Engineers without Borders, Formula Student, and People and Planet. The Students' Union Volunteering Programme offers further opportunities, including one off action days.

The Green Team Coordinator full time position is a resource to support student sustainability projects, sustainability activity on campus and support university staff with embedding sustainability into the curricula. The full time coordinator post delivers a monthly programme of events activity and training to encourage students to engage with the sustainability agenda and empowers students to run student change projects. The Community Manager has responsibility for overseeing student-engagement with sustainability issues.

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