Students at Sheffield have engaged constructively with the University over a number of years; helping secure the University’s divestment from fossil fuels and playing a key role in the institution’s switch to a renewable electricity supplier for its procured electricity needs. 

Currently, students and staff are working together to embed Education for Sustainable Development across the university experience. 

In 2017, 84% of Sheffield students agreed that Education for Sustainable Development should be incorporated into all courses. Before the pandemic, students showed their passion for sustainability by turning out in force on campus and across the city of Sheffield to demand climate action. Their activism continues to drive forward action so that the University of Sheffield can become one of the most sustainable research-intensive universities in the country. 

Acting on ESD

Launched in November 2020, the University of Sheffield sustainability strategy commits the institution to embedding Education for Sustainable Development into all taught courses in five years. 

Over the last month, some key steps have been taken to help realise this ambition. In March, eighty staff members including Heads of Department and Directors of Learning and Teaching, joined an event launching the University’s guidance on embedding Education for Sustainable Development into the student experience. The event provided an overview of the nature of Education for Sustainable Development, defined by the University as: 

“Equipping our students, both within the formal curriculum and in their wider student experience, with the knowledge, skills, values and attributes needed to work and live in a way that will bring about solutions to the urgent, and ever-changing, environmental, economic and social challenges that we face, now and in the future.”

Attendees engaged constructively, helping to illuminate some of the opportunities as well as the challenges of this agenda. It was agreed that Education for Sustainable Development is a challenge for staff and students which will introduce new content and approaches to teaching across the institution. 

The focus of the event was the launching a new five-step guide to implementing Education for Sustainable Development. The guide’s principle author, Dr Caroline Hart from the School of Education, presented a breakdown of the key steps to implementing the agenda.   

By working through the steps: engage, learn, apply, share and influence, staff and students can embed sustainability into both the formal curriculum and wider student experience. The guide was welcomed by staff and it is now an active resource for all across the university community to use. 

The five step guide and more resources on Education for Sustainable Development are available via the Elevate webpages

The University’s current priority is to disseminate the five step model throughout staff and student networks. This will be a key step towards fulfilling the promise presented in the University’s sustainability strategy. Elsewhere, progress is being made on the wider extracurricular opportunities of the Education for Sustainable Development agenda.