Higher Education Funding Council for England

Students call for greener curriculums at the University of Bristol

Wednesday 13-08-2014 - 14:48
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Sustainability across student life needs to go further than greening campuses and communities. We need to green curriculums too.

At the University of Bristol, UBU Get Green have been working with their union's education for sustainable development coodindator to conduct a survey among their students. They wanted to find out whether their students cared about sustainability, and how it could best be embedded into informal and formal curriculums.

They found that sustainability is important to a colossal 90 per cent of their students, and that 69 per cent thought it should be embedded into their course.

“We have previously engaged with academics to see where they saw sustainability in their curriculum and we wanted to see if this matched with students’ experience”, explained education for sustainable development coordinator Hannah Tweddell.  

“Students bring their own expertise and experience to the university, be they straight out of school or from the workplace and we believe that this expertise benefits academic's research and creates a better university”

Conducting the survey was a great way for the University of Bristol Students’ Union to find out what their students were already learning and doing on sustainability, and what they thought a better vision for their education would be.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the diversity of informal curriculum activities students are involved in” explained Hannah. “From UBU Get Green to car sharing for cheerleading events, to supporting refugee projects, to working for a wind turbine manufacturer and setting up a housing cooperative”.  

“We were pleased that activities we have planned for next year were suggested in feedback in what the union could do to support sustainability”

This survey provides a great platform for the students’ union to build work around education for sustainable development in partnership with both academics and learners. And with the help of Students’ Green Fund, that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

“Get Green is University of Bristol Students’ Union’s first major sustainability initiative and ESD is one of Get Green's four core strands”, says project lead Quinn Runkle.

“Through our Learn strand, we will continue to work with the University's ESD team to enhance sustainability education at Bristol and empower students to be agents of change in their classrooms and beyond”

NUS believes that education for sustainable development is a crucial part to a rounded education, preparing graduates for the emerging low-carbon economy. Students’ Green Fund is committed to developing this across England.

We know that it’s what students want too. Nationally we find that 80% of students want their students to do more on sustainability, and 60% want to learn more about it. Whether fees go up, or jobs markets crash, these figures remain the same.

At the University of Bristol, they’ve found that their students not only reflect these statistics, but even surpass the already strong national commitment to sustainability across the UK.

With the help of Students’ Green Fund, the students’ union, the university and the students themselves are working together to create the curriculums they want to see; curriculums which shape a fairer and more prosperous future for everyone.

Read the full results of the survey here and talk to us about education for sustainable development.

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