A one-day consultation workshop on the draft QAA/HEA Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Guidance Document for UK higher education providers took place in Birmingham on 5 November 2013.
Five speakers set the scene for the afternoon’s consultation process. In his welcome and introduction, Anthony McClaran (Chief Executive, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education QAA) highlighted the strategic need for reorienting higher education curricula in the context of sustainability and predicted that the QAA/HEA ESD Guidance document would have a real impact on the UK higher education sector.
Speaking on ‘The student demand for ESD’, Dom Anderson (Vice-President Society and Citizenship, National Union of Students NUS) drew attention to the strong student demand for sustainability in the curriculum, referring to the recent report Student attitudes towards and skills for sustainable development, by the HEA and the NUS. He emphasised that students and academics should work in partnership in the area of ESD.
In his speech on ‘The role of ESD in the Higher Education sector’, Simon Kemp (Academic Lead ESD, HEA and Co-convenor of the QAA/HEA Working Group) emphasised the one real remit of universities, namely Responsible Futures. In delivering this, informal curriculum can play a vital role in student engagement and part of the challenge is moving away from traditional campus greening, he said. He concluded with ‘the real challenge’: How could we engage the rest of higher education in ESD through a guidance document?
Professor Daniella Tilbury (Chair UNESCO DESD Expert Group and Director of Sustainability, University of Gloucestershire) spoke on the online resource ‘Guide to Quality and ESD in Higher Education’, which is a key outcome of the HEFCE funded project, Leading Curriculum Change for Sustainability: Strategic Approaches to Quality Enhancement in 2010-2012. She highlighted that ESD, which is relevant to all, is about how we teach as well as what we teach. Referring to the Quality and ESD project’s five partner universities – Gloucestershire, Aston, Brighton, Exeter and Oxford Brookes – she outlined how different universities took different routes to link ESD to their Quality initiatives. She also mentioned that UNESCO has designated ESD as one of its top priorities for a decade from 2014.
The ESD Guidance Document consultation process was the topic for Professor James Longhurst (Assistant Vice-Chancellor Environment and Sustainability, University of the West of England UWE and Chair of the QAA/HEA Working Group). A collaborative product of the QAA and the HEA, this guidance document has been developed by representatives of the higher education community with ESD expertise. With the aim of assisting higher education practitioners who plan to offer students with opportunities in thinking and learning about sustainable development as part of the latter’s higher education experience, this guidance is structured around two strands: (1) Graduate outcomes (2) Teaching, learning and assessment. He said that the document is not prescriptive about delivery, intends to be relevant to educators of all disciplines, and includes signposts to further information and resources. He also described how the delegates were expected to participate in the consultation process in the afternoon.
In the afternoon the delegates took part in five consultation working groups:
- Definitions and the need for ESD
- Graduate outcomes: knowledge and understanding
- Graduate outcomes: skills and attributes
- Teaching, learning and assessment: approaches to teaching and learning
- Teaching, learning and assessment: approaches to assessment, questions for educators
Later, representatives from the five groups gave feedback.
Finally, Simon Kemp and Dr Laura Bellingham (Assistant Director, Research Development and Partnerships, QAA and Co-convenor of the QAA/HEA Working Group) revealed the next steps. An eight-week online consultation will be open for the public soon. The final version of the guidance document is expected to be published in early 2014.
News post on the ESD consultation workshop
Student attitudes towards and skills for sustainable development (Report)
Guide to Quality and Education for Sustainability in Higher Education (Online resource)
Related news posts on Sustainable University News website:
Consultation workshop: QAA/HEA Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Guidance Document
HEA-NUS Report 2013: Student attitudes towards and skills for sustainable development
New website: The Guide to Quality and Education for Sustainability in Higher Education
CONFERENCE: Quality Assurance, Enhancement and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): Creating a Framework for Dialogue
Gloucestershire workshop on Education for Sustainability in Higher Education
Delivering ESD and graduate attributes through Hybrid Problem-Based Learning
New TOOLKIT: Problem-Based Learning: A Case Study of Sustainability Education
UNEP publishes Greening Universities Toolkit
Related posts on The Sustainable University Notes blog:
EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University (Part 1): curriculum content and delivery
Opportunities for integrating sustainability across curricula (Part 2 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University)
University of Planetshire approach to integrating sustainability across the curriculum (Part 3 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University)
Outputs of the University of Planetshire Approach to integrating sustainability across the curriculum (Part 4 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University)
Related posts on The Sustainable University Diary blog (ESD reflections):
The starting point of our sustainability crisis?
Who depends on whom? A game of plates