In 2020, SOS UK (a sustainability charity for the education sector in the UK) asked over 8000 students how they are experiencing teaching and learning for sustainability in higher education.
of students said they expect sustainable development to be actively incorporated into all courses
It’s clear students like us want sustainability learning. But, we want quality sustainability learning – not greenwash!
The University of Gloucestershire has been working with this idea in mind for a hot minute, and won funding from the UK Quality Assurance Agency for higher education (QAA) to lead a project working with students and partners from University of the Arts London and King’s College London to develop and test a set of principles to assess the quality of sustainability learning being integrated into courses.
Thank you to all the students who rated courses and gave feedback that helped us design this kit!
We were also guided by the QAA Student Board (SSAC) in developing this project, and benefitted from their positivity for what the project wanted to achieve, and advice on what this kit could be.
Now we’ve tested and refined these principles, as well as developed some resources to help students use them; we’ve put together this kit to help you call out the potential for ‘curriculum greenwash’ across the nation’s universities.
This project was a unique opportunity for us as students to be involved in helping to decide what ‘quality’ looks like when it comes to the field of Education for Sustainability. But, there is still a long way to go as we hope more universities across the country will take on board additional measures to make sure all students are getting a good quality sustainability education, and will go on to make better choices for the planet, the people, and the economy.
If you want to learn even more about this project, our methods, and ethics, please visit the main site here!
How to use this kit
The aim of this kit is to give you key insights to be able to rate the quality of sustainability learning on your course and take action to drive change.
The menu on the right will enable you to dip in and out of sections, but we recommend that before you actually rate your course, you have watched all 6 of our short films and got to grips with the 5 sections in the training menu.
To make it clear, this isn’t an introduction to sustainability in all its forms – this project is about what’s important in Education for Sustainability and what makes it good quality, and how we can bring that into our university experience.
Meet the students behind the kit
Bea Hughes – student lead
I’m a PhD student at the University of Gloucestershire, studying Ecolinguistics and relating it to Japanese folklore, Ghibli films, and Animal Crossing. I joined this project because I was involved with the sustainability society at the university and wanted the opportunity to make a profound difference and bring my values of sustainability into making a proper change. I headed up the student team and also led on our review to see what universities are currently doing on sustainability learning
I’m a recent graduate from University of the Arts London: London College of Fashion, with an MA in Fashion Design Management. I joined the project because I believe that university might be the place where students lay the foundations of their future professional and personal choices, and therefore an occasion to build an understanding of the social, racial and environmental issues of the industry.
I’m a final year BA Social Sciences student at King’s College London, about to graduate and begin an MPhil at the University of Cambridge. I joined the project through my role as a Sustainability Projects Assistant on the KCL Sustainability Team and worked with other KCL students to support its development. I believe that social justice should be at the forefront of sustainability and that the project will promote its inclusion within EfS and across higher education.