Education for Sustainable Development at Bristol

The University of Bristol is committed to making sustainability a core competence of the education we provide our students, as shared in our strategy. We are a signatory of the Sustainable Development Goals Accord, an institutional member of the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges, and were the first UK university to declare a climate emergency. Supporting our students to engage in the challenges humanity faces Is key to delivering on these commitments.

We are delivering on these commitments in the following ways:

  1. We are embedding discipline-relevant aspects of education for sustainable development into every degree program. A review we conducted identified that 85% of our undergraduates have an opportunity to study some aspect of sustainability as part of their degree courses. The Education for Sustainable Development Staff Network supports the sharing of best practice, and organises formal events and informal gatherings.
  2. We are providing interdisciplinary educational options available to many of our students, most notably the Sustainable Development unit and other Bristol Futures units.
  3. We provide formal extra-curricular ESD opportunities to our students – most notably, the Bristol Futures Open Online Courses, which include Global Citizenship and Sustainable Futures, and form part of the Bristol PLUS Award scheme. The Sustainable Futures course was the winner of the 2019 UK and Ireland Green Gown Award for Next Generation Learning and Skills
  4. We are providing training for our staff in education for sustainable development, most notably through a module as part of the PGCAP continuing professional development scheme for academics.
  5. We are working with the Students Union to support bottom-up educational initiatives through our network of Student Sustainability Champions .
  6. Our academics play a leading role in national and international conversations on education for sustainable development. The international network on Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures is co-ordinated from Bristol. Our academics have contributed to the QAA Guidance on Education for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network Case Studies, and the COP26 Universities Network working paper on Mainstreaming Climate Education in UK Higher Education Institutions.

Professor Chris Preist, Academic Lead for Sustainability, has prime responsibility for delivery of this strategy. We believe in wide involvement of both staff and students in shaping its direction. This takes place through Peoples’ Assemblies and other networking and consultation events. 

1 in 5 Project Logo 1 in 5 Project

The University of Bristol is an active supporter of the 1 in 5 project, which engages students in the climate and ecological emergency through final year projects. We encourage all programmes to offer relevant projects, and support students who wish to focus their projects in this way.

We collect data on uptake across the university, and share examples of success with the national 1 in 5 project.

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