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Education for sustainable development

What is it?

‘Education for sustainable development is the process of equipping students with the knowledge and understanding, skills and attributes needed to work and live in a way that safeguards environmental, social and economic wellbeing, both in the present and for future generations.’

(Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Education for sustainable development: Guidance for UK higher education providers, June 2014, p. 5)


The QAA (2014, p. 5 & 7) explains that education for sustainable development means working with students to encourage them to:

  • consider what the concept of global citizenship means in the context of their own discipline and in their future professional and personal lives
  • consider what the concept of environmental stewardship means in the context of their own discipline and in their future professional and personal lives
  • think about issues of social justice, ethics and wellbeing, and how these relate to ecological and economic factors
  • develop a future-facing outlook; learning to think about the consequences of actions, and how systems and societies can be adapted to ensure sustainable futures
  • develop critical thinking and take a wide-ranging, systemic and self-reflective approach, adapting to novel situations that can arise from complexity

Education for sustainability often includes one or more of these pedagogical approaches (adapted from QAA guidance 2014, p. 13):

  • tend to enable students to relate their learning to real-life problems
  • are interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary - reflecting the interconnected nature of many issues in sustainable development
  • involve experiential and interactive approaches, encouraging students to develop and reflect on their own and others' values
  • expose students to multiple perspectives and enable creative responses to emerge through  participatory learning, peer-learning and collaboration

General Enquiries

Dr Ian Smith
Associate Dean Education (Arts and Divinity)

Dr Jon Issberner
Acting Dean of Science

Dr Kevin McNamara
Academic Policy Officer (Taught Degrees)

Dr Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs
Lecturer, School of Geography and Sustainable Development

Dr Shona Russell
Senior Lecturer, School of Management