Student success and education for sustainable development (ESD) are both complex topics within the world of higher education, and both are inextricably linked to one another. The importance and interconnectivity of both within the sustainable development ecosystem are explored in Advance HE’s most recent podcast, ‘Sustainability for Student Success’.
Kim Ansell, Senior Advisor at Advance HE is joined by Dr Kay Hack, Senior Advisor, Advance HE and Dr Kate Mori, Quality and Standards Specialist at the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). Dr Mori and Dr Hack led the review of guidance on educational development that was jointly published by Advance HE and QAA last March.
Kay and Kate start by exploring the meaning of education for sustainable development and its importance – Kate said education for sustainable development shines a light “on our personal and professional behaviors that may negatively impact sustainability issues we face.” Kate stressed that “we do need a new lens that considers environmental and social costs of focusing on profit maximisation at the expense of everything else and move society towards a more equitable and a more thoughtful future. And I think for me education for sustainable development does confront those issues directly”.
Kay addressed the sustainability competencies which structure guidance – “we classified the competencies in terms of ways of thinking, ways of practicing, and ways of being. We can start to break down these competencies and frame them in terms of the more familiar terminology of what students should be able to know, what they should be able to do, and what will they be after a learning event: whether that's a module, a whole program, or just an individual teaching session.”
Kate stressed the importance of “a whole institutional approach”, requiring “support from the very top to enact ESD, that staff across all areas are enabled to make a difference their contribution and their voice is heard, ideas can be proposed, and students are fully involved.”
For those universities getting started on achieving ESD, Kay suggested that “they would do well to look at the key metrics that underpin the Times Higher Impact rankings, which are a measure of a university’s success in delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development goals. Now these address research but also they include looking at outreach, what cross community projects impact on sustainability. They also obviously support student access from underrepresented groups, and develop sustainability competencies of current students. And they also explore stewardship, how do our ways of working impact on the wellbeing of staff and students in our community, as well as our environment?”
Connect Benefit Series: Student success
This podcast is part of the Connect Benefit Series: Student success, which has covered the themes of Employability, Flexible learning, and Access, retention, attainment and progression. Colleagues from Advance HE member institutions can access all outputs from this project, including literature reviews, podcasts and webinar recordings here.