Sustainability taught within all degrees

Universities are uniquely placed to help shape – and be shaped by – the thinking of younger generations, organisational cultures and even geopolitical ideologies. For this reason, fully embedding the principles of sustainability within our curriculum is a practical way of helping to create a better future.

We actively listen to what our students want to learn in relation to sustainability. Our students have made it very clear that they want to see relevant sustainability content provided through their chosen degree topic that matches their existing academic interests and will help their employability and impact in their chosen profession. For example, this could include increasing renewable infrastructure content for engineering students, or offering psychology students options or content in relation to promoting environmental behaviour change.

That is why we plan to consult with students and staff in each school in the 2021/22 academic year to better understand and identify options for embedding new sustainability content within each School’s mainstream curriculum. This will allow each School to develop and produce an action plan by August 2022 for embedding sustainability in the curriculum, which can be approved as part of the planned University-wide curriculum review that is taking place in 2021–2024.

We will also pilot offering a new interdisciplinary introduction to sustainability elective module to all undergraduate students from August 2022. Students without electives would also have the choice of taking this module as standalone credential. This will be developed with a view to enabling each academic School to adapt the content into a School-specific 15-credit module from August 2023 if appropriate.

Once this module is established and evaluated we will review its suitability to be offered to interested parties within the community who are not current students. We will also support schools to develop their own sustainability-related pathways, where appropriate, for example sustainable food, water and agriculture. This will further strengthen our existing sustainable education offer.

We also understand that learning does not just start and end in the classroom. We are passionate about enabling students to gain practical work experience, placements and internships in the local community, in addition to wider field trips. That is why we are directly linking all of our student careers initiatives to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. All of our internships, work placements and our new student consultancy to business are designed to empower students to create positive social, economic and environmental change.

We will also continue to run really innovative practical sustainability courses as part of our pedagogic revolution, such as our forest food garden and role models modules that see students actively improving biodiversity on campus and/or providing real-world mentoring in the community. This is one of the ways that we will continue to dare to be different and espouse our institutional values of kindness and courage.