The purpose of this project is to evaluate the impact of the approaches taken across different disciplines to embed Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into academic programmes of study.
The call for universities to comprehensively embed sustainable development content into their curricula and research activities is longstanding (e.g. HEFCE, 2005), and education is seen as central to engendering a more sustainable future and the delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (UNESCO, 2020). Reflective of these wider trends, the University of Derby has committed to ‘Zero Carbon’ as a core academic theme and the University’s recently published Curriculum Design Framework (CDF) includes Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as one of four themes to be embedded into all programmes. It is this Framework and its emphasis on ESD which sets the context for this PhD project. This project will explore how programme teams respond to this flexible environment.
Key themes and questions which it is anticipated will emerge during the project include:
- The use of the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for curriculum development.
- The degree to which sustainability competencies as key graduate attributes will be foregrounded within programmes.
- What enablers are most effective in supporting and encouraging programme teams to engage with ESD?
- How far is ESD drawn into programme assessment strategies?
- Whether certain components of ESD will emerge as more dominant, for example carbon literacy.
- How existing expertise within the University will shape ESD priorities, for example the high-profile research on nature connectedness?
- To what extent ESD can be a mechanism to facilitate student factors of success, for example engagement and belonging?
- What tensions or complementarities are there between ESD and the other three curriculum design principles?
- The scope for interdisciplinary working to enhance the implementation and impact of ESD.
- The synergies between progress in embedding ESD and the university’s civic agenda.