The Sociology department ran a workshop this month to showcase the ways that different departments around the university are planning to embed sustainability in their curriculum and activities.

The event featured short overviews from a number of departments who are looking at embedding education for sustainability within their curriculum. These included broadening out what is meant by education for sustainable development (ESD) to include questions of social and ecological justice, and developing bespoke degree programme (BSc Global Sustainability and MA Environment, Society and Culture), to ensuring that relevant examples are brought into foundational courses and sessions which might not naturally align with sustainability but all students have access to (e.g. study skills teaching). There was also a strong theme of participatory and experiential approaches to teaching whereby students are offered opportunities to develop their competencies in sustainability through group projects and partnerships with industry.

Dr Katy Wheeler, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Sociology who organised the event said:

‘The event showed how much is already going on around education for sustainable development (ESD) within the university. We pulled together speakers from all three faculties and it was an opportunity for us to learn from one another and to think about possible ways forward as an institution. It is hoped that this is just the start of a conversation and there will follow further opportunities to talk about Education for Sustainability. We are also thinking about how we can offer professional development training for interested staff. As a recipient of the Education Strategic Fund grant, I have undertaken (with Norman Riley) a content analysis of Sociology curriculum and organised a staff/student working group on sustainability so I am keen to continue with this work and look at ways to further embed Education for Sustainability within the Sociology department.’

Next steps for embedding sustainability into education

A report is being produced which summarises workshop participants responses to the education section of the Sustainability Sub-Strategy. These will be first shared with workshop participants before being circulated amongst relevant members of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Advisory Group (CEEAG). It is hoped this session will be a springboard for further workshops and professional development activities.

For more information on how the University plans to embed sustainability into education read our Sustainability Sub Strategy.