Sustainability is a core theme in higher education today and will remain so in the future, said Professor David Phoenix, Vice Chancellor at London South Bank University (LSBU) at the first annual conference of the London Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), held at LSBU on 10 June 2014.
Titled ‘ESD London: Supporting employability, society and the environment: A curriculum for sustainability,’ the event brought together educationalists, NGOs and employers with the aim of developing a London-wide community of practice in order to inspire and engage the participants in promoting a sustainable future for all. It comprised a keynote, speeches, panel Q&A, paper and poster presentations, workshops, networking opportunities and an awards presentation.
The day began with a welcome to LSBU (the host institution of the London RCE) by Professor Phoenix. Emphasizing that universities should deliver back to society, he revealed that one of the key priorities of his own institution is civic engagement and, in this endeavour, sustainability would play a key role.
Professor Ros Wade (Chair, London RCE), who led the team which achieved accreditation in 2009 from UN University for LSBU to develop the London RCE, presented an introduction to the day. In the past couple of years, London RCE has grown into a network of networks, comprising representatives from education, state, business and civil society from London and beyond. LSBU’s key strength that contributed to this achievement was its Education for Sustainability (EfS) Masters programme. Launched twenty years ago, soon after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, this programme brought together academics and practitioners from Development Education and Environmental Education, with the involvement of Oxfam and WWF.
The morning session of the conference comprised a keynote and two speeches:
- Keynote address | Jane Davidson, Director INSPIRE (Institute for Sustainability Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness), University of Wales Trinity Saint David
- Learning to learn for sustainability in higher education: making a difference | Professor Stephen Sterling, Head of ESD and Centre for Sustainable Futures, Plymouth University
- Accelerating change for sustainability in higher education: A UNESCO DESD study | Professor Daniella Tilbury, Dean and Director of Sustainability, University of Gloucestershire, and Chair UNESCO Expert Group on UN Decade in ESD
Keynote address: Jane Davidson, former Minister for Environment and Sustainability and Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning in Wales, emphasized the need to ‘think global and act local’ in responding to sustainability challenges. Referring to the concept of the ecological footprint, she said that, in the economically developed world, we live as if we had a number of planets to support our lifestyles, but we have got only one. Turning to politics, she observed that elections lead to short term thinking and populism, adversely affecting the sustainability agenda. Moreover, voluntary action is sometimes not enough and an example is the necessity for plastic bag charge legislation. She also stressed that universities themselves need to think differently in the context of the challenge of sustainability.
Learning to learn for sustainability in higher education: making a difference: Professor Stephen Sterling outlined some of the challenges that universities face with respect to the sustainability in their curricula and also pathways that have emerged. He observed that the concept of sustainability raises the question of the purpose of higher education. To contribute to sustainability positively, a holistic and transformative education is required. Although a whole institutional approach to change is difficult, it would be effective in the long term. He presented the 4C model, comprising three interlocking circles of Curriculum, Campus and Community, subsumed in a wider circle of Culture, stating that it could be adopted to bring about holistic change. He also reminded that ESD can colour all areas of curricula.
Accelerating change for sustainability in higher education: A UNESCO DESD study: Professor Daniella Tilbury said that higher education has a critical role to play in developing a global vision and pathway for sustainable development. Presenting a summary of a global study carried out by the UNESCO, she revealed that, in the past decade, the progress achieved by universities worldwide in lowering carbon footprint of education is higher than that achieved in integrating sustainability into their core business, i.e. education. Moreover, she said that sustainability should form the core of what universities should be doing, not a side product. She noted that there has been much progress in networking and UN University’s global RCE network has helped universities to connect students’ learning to situated communities of practice. She also mentioned the University Educators for Sustainable Development (UE4SD) project, which brings together 55 partners (mainly universities) from 33 countries across Europe and beyond to rethink the higher education curriculum with regard to sustainable development.
Over twenty papers with ESD-related themes were presented at two workshop sessions with parallel workshops in the morning and in the afternoon. (For a full list, please visit the links below under ‘More….’). Morning workshops were chaired by Dr Hugh Atkinson (LSBU), Margaret Burr (Humanities Education Centre HEC), Shaminder Takhar (LSBU) and Anna Portch (London Environmental Education Forum LEEF). Afternoon workshops were chaired by Dr Hugh Atkinson (LSBU), John Baines (LSBU) and Falko Schmidt.
The afternoon session comprised three presentations:
- Making a Green Impact through ESD | Jo Kemp, Green Impact Programme Manager, National Union of Students (NUS)
- How to implement ESD within Higher Education via NUS Green Impact – a best practice example | Aisling Tierney (ESD Coordinator) and Chris Willmore (ESD Academic Lead) from the University of Bristol
- ESD in Further Education | Esin Esat, Director of Sustainability, Bedford College
Jo Kemp said that students are saying sustainability is important. She revealed that the NUS is engaging students in sustainability in diverse ways, such as fun and collaboration (e.g. Students Switch Off, Students Eats), enabling action (e.g. Snap It Off) and working with and across institutions and communities (e.g. Students Green Fund, Green Impact).
Aisling Tierney and Chris Willmore presented the Bristol University’s ESD model, which comprises four circles comprising formal, informal and subliminal curriculum (estates) and research, subsumed by a wider circle of community. They revealed that ESD at Bristol hasn’t got committees but only a network, enabling experimentation, quick action and bottom-up approach. Willmore said sustainability should be fun, about celebration and about giving ownership (Don’t tell students, etc, what to do; ask what their next step is).
Esin Esat presented an overview on ESD in further education and said that the most important for the future of ESD in further education is student and staff engagement.
Among the other presentations were:
- Providing an efficient, flexible, healthy and environmentally friendly solution to travel for the future | Harry Scrope (Brompton Dock)
- The UN Global Compact and Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) | David Clemson (LSBU, Copernicus Alliance and PRME) and John Peters (Greenleaf Publishing)
- Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) and Green Gown Awards | Fiona Goodwin (EAUC)
- Journal contributions | Andrew Jones (Editor of the journal Local Economy)
Lynn Vickery (LSBU and Co-ordinator, London RCE) presented the awards for the best paper and poster submissions.
The London RCE organised the conference in partnership with 4 All of Us and the event was supported by the EAUC, the London Universities Environmental Group (LUEG), NUS, Change Agents UK, Greenleaf Publishing, PRME, Brompton Dock and Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network.
The London RCE on ESD is part of the UN University’s global RCE network on ESD, comprising over 100 RCEs worldwide.
Photographs by Asitha Jayawardena
Conference content (i.e. presentation slides) http://www.esdlondon.co.uk/conference-content/
Morning Workshops | A list of papers http://static.squarespace.com/static/5244912be4b0bb82cd89b8b4/t/5391a3f9e4b02afd69359758/1402053625648/Papers%20programme%20am.pdf
Afternoon Workshops | A list of papers http://static.squarespace.com/static/5244912be4b0bb82cd89b8b4/t/538da317e4b07ce1991d5eb9/1401791255435/Papers%20programme%20pm.pdf
UN University website | ESD page http://www.ias.unu.edu/sub_page.aspx?catID=108&ddlID=54 | Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) http://www.ias.unu.edu/sub_page.aspx?catID=1849&ddlID=183
The RCE Network http://www.rce-network.org/portal/home
4 All of Us http://www.4allofus.org.uk/
The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) http://www.eauc.org.uk/
Green Impact, National Union of Students (NUS) http://www.green-impact.org.uk/
The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network http://www.opalexplorenature.org
Local Economy journal http://www.uk.sagepub.com/journals/Journal202011
Related ESD posts on LinkedIn | #asiLI (on Twitter)
Why universities should lead their wider communities’ sustainability endeavours | Three reasons https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140606053309-101066234-why-universities-should-lead-their-wider-communities-sustainability-endeavours-three-reasons
LSBU MSc in Education for Sustainability | How it enriched my perspective http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140507110247-101066234-lsbu-msc-in-education-for-sustainability-how-it-enriched-my-perspective
A game of plates at ‘Growth vs. Earth’ Café | Who depends on whom? http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140407045738-101066234-a-game-of-plates-at-growth-vs-earth-caf%C3%A9-who-depends-on-whom?
Sustainability | A balancing act? Four of them? https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140409090334-101066234-sustainability-a-balancing-act-four-of-them
Making sense of sustainability (or sustainable development) | A look at seven definitions http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140414095133-101066234-making-sense-of-sustainability-or-sustainable-development-a-look-at-seven-definitions
Sustainability-oriented poetry | Ten unforgettable pieces from Byron to Tennyson http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140421183727-101066234-sustainability-oriented-poetry-ten-unforgettable-pieces-from-byron-to-tennyson
Sustainability-oriented quotes and sayings | Twenty gems from Native Americans to Einstein http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140524074906-101066234-sustainability-oriented-quotes-and-sayings-twenty-gems-from-native-americans-to-einstein
Related posts on The Sustainable University News & Info website (this website)
ESD London Conference | Supporting Employability, Society & the Environment: A Curriculum for Sustainability https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/esd-london-conference-supporting-employability-society-the-environment-a-curriculum-for-sustainability/
Sustainable Lifestyles conference | Good life of the good person is only possible in a good society, says Prof Jackson https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/sustainable-lifestyles-conference-good-life-of-the-good-person-is-only-possible-in-a-good-society-says-prof-jackson/
Informal communication has a key role in sustainability-oriented institutional change, says Green Academy Lead at Worcester https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/informal-communication-has-a-key-role-in-sustainability-oriented-institutional-change-says-green-academy-lead-at-worcester/
Sustainability leadership is all around us, says Director SD at Canterbury Christ Church University https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/sustainability-leadership-is-all-around-us-says-director-sd-at-canterbury-christ-church-university/
Disciplines speak ‘Sustainability’ in different languages, says ESD academic lead at Bristol https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/disciplines-speak-sustainability-in-different-languages-says-esd-academic-lead-at-bristol/
Online learning is a driver for sustainability, says Dr Speight at HEA-Nottingham seminar https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/online-learning-is-a-driver-for-sustainability-says-dr-speight-at-hea-nottingham-seminar/
HEFCE London event: NHS Sustainable Development jab to higher education https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/hefce-london-event-nhs-sustainable-development-jab-to-higher-education/
UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/unesco-world-conference-on-education-for-sustainable-development-esd/
Five questions and 100 delegates from 15 countries: COPERNICUS conference on higher education, sustainability and ESD https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/five-questions-and-100-delegates-from-15-countries-copernicus-conference-on-higher-education-sustainability-and-esd/
UNEP publishes Greening Universities Toolkit https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/unep-publishes-greening-universities-toolkit/
QAA/HEA ESD Guidance Document for UK higher education goes under consultation https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/qaahea-esd-guidance-document-for-uk-higher-education-goes-under-consultation/
Inaugural AGM of London RCE on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/inaugural-agm-of-london-rce-on-education-for-sustainable-development-esd/
HEA-NUS Report 2013: Student attitudes towards and skills for sustainable development https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/hea-nus-report-2013-student-attitudes-towards-and-skills-for-sustainable-development/
NUS announces 25 Students’ Green Fund projects in England https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/nus-announces-25-students-green-fund-projects-in-england/
House of Commons launch: UK’s Rio+20 Manifesto to strengthen education’s role in sustainable development https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/house-of-commons-launch-uks-rio20-manifesto-to-strengthen-educations-role-in-sustainable-development/
London South Bank University (LSBU) in Africa: Education for Sustainability (EfS) Residential 2013 https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/london-south-bank-university-lsbu-in-africa-education-for-sustainability-efs-residential-2013/
ESD has made inroads in new pedagogical ideas in future flexible higher education – HEA report https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/esd-has-made-inroads-in-new-pedagogical-ideas-in-future-flexible-higher-education-hea-report/
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) London Conference 2014: Call for Papers https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/education-for-sustainable-development-esd-london-conference-2014-call-for-papers/
New website: The Guide to Quality and Education for Sustainability in Higher Education https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/new-website-the-guide-to-quality-and-education-for-sustainability-in-higher-education/
Gloucestershire workshop on Education for Sustainability in Higher Education https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/gloucestershire-workshop-on-education-for-sustainability-in-higher-education/
Delivering ESD and graduate attributes through Hybrid Problem-Based Learning https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/delivering-esd-and-graduate-attributes-through-hybrid-problem-based-learning/
New TOOLKIT: Problem-Based Learning: A Case Study of Sustainability Education https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/new-toolkit-problem-based-learning-a-case-study-of-sustainability-education/
Related posts on The Sustainable University Notes blog
Education’s role in addressing sustainability and ESD http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/educations-role-in-addressing.html
Higher Education’s role in building a sustainable world http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/higher-educations-role-in-building.html
Pathways to a sustainable university http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/pathways-to-sustainable-university.html
EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University (Part 1): curriculum content and delivery http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/education-pathway-to-sustainable.html
Opportunities for integrating sustainability across curricula (Part 2 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University) http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/opportunities-for-integrating.html
University of Planetshire approach to integrating sustainability across the curriculum (Part 3 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University) http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/university-of-planetshire-approach-to.html
Outputs of the University of Planetshire Approach to integrating sustainability across the curriculum (Part 4 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University) http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/outputs-of-university-of-planetshire.html
Will it work? – The University of Planetshire Approach to integrating sustainability across the curriculum (Part 5 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University) http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/will-it-work-university-of-planetshire.html
Related posts on The Sustainable University Diary blog (ESD reflections)
The starting point of our sustainability crisis? http://esddiary.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/the-starting-point-of-our-sustainability-crisis/
Who depends on whom? A game of plates http://esddiary.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/who-depends-on-whom-a-game-of-plates/
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Project PROPOSAL for universities | Sustainability as an enhancer of reputation and financial position | The Planetshire University (PU) modelhttps://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/proposal/
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