We are delighted to announce the inaugural Advance HE symposium on sustainability in higher education. Entitled Facing Forward with Sustainability: Principles, Progress and Partnership, the event provides the opportunity for colleagues to share and discuss innovations in and research about progressing sustainability in the sector. We invite colleagues to consider how higher education now needs to move forward with sustainability initiatives and education, in pandemic and post-pandemic higher education. There are two principles underlying the symposium:
- First, sustainability refers to a wide range of society-wide issues and threats. We are assuming a broad-based view of sustainability, one which incorporates issues including, but not limited to, environmental management, energy use, travel, recycling, university estates, carbon reductions, food sourcing, and sustainability in the curriculum. It is also used widely to cover social justice and inequality issues. Our starting point is the commonly used account by the UN Brundtland Commission*: ‘Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. We are also guided by the definition of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) proposed by UNESCO (2019)**: ‘ESD empowers learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability and a just society, for present and future generations, while respecting cultural diversity. It is about lifelong learning, and is an integral part of quality education’. However, we recognise that some participants may wish to ascribe other or more specific lenses on the topic.
- Second, for this symposium, we would like to propose a view of sustainability being ‘for everyone’. The theme will address sustainability as ‘something for everyone’ in higher education, emphasising an inclusive approach. Sustainability and its constituent parts represent urgent issues and, in the higher education sector, we all have responsibilities in progressing sustainable development.
The symposium will take place following the publication of the new QAA / Advance HE Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Guidelines (expected publication date, March 2021) which will form the focus of a special, additional workshop. More generally, by way of a keynote session, participant-led workshops and presentations, and a closing plenary, the event will offer insights about a range of pertinent sustainability issues, as well as examples and ideas for university staff and students. It will appeal to academic leaders, academic and professional staff, as well as to students.
*United Nations/World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) (1987). Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future (The Brundtland Report).
**United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2017). Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives. Paris, France. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000247444
Key themes addressed by the symposium
- Staff and student innovations in and research about sustainability in higher education.
- Staff and student innovations in sustainability teaching, learning and assessment.
- Partnerships in sustainability: examples and discussions of staff and students (or other groups) working together.
- Promoting sustainability for everyone: working together to make sustainability something for everyone in the sector.
- Academic leadership and sustainability.
Who should attend?
This event is for programme leaders, curriculum designers and educational developers responsible for embedding sustainability into the curriculum, and for those responsible for the sustainability agenda in their institutions. We welcome attendance from students and co-presented sessions with student representatives.
Who is delivering the symposium?
The symposium will be chaired by Dr Patrick Baughan Senior Adviser T&L, Advance HE, assisted by other Advance HE colleagues.
Patrick is a Senior Learning Adviser at Advance HE, having joined the organisation in April 2019. His role involves supporting universities in the UK and internationally with all aspects of pedagogy, focusing particularly on learning, teaching, assessment and feedback. He also undertakes significant work in Advance HE’s sustainability activity, and is an author of the forthcoming QAA / Advance HE Education for Sustainable Development Guidelines.
Professor Jim Longhurst
Jim is Professor of Environmental Science and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability at UWE, Bristol.
In his AVC role, Jim leads the university’s sustainability agenda ensuring that sustainability considerations are present in the university’s teaching, research, campus operations and civic engagement work. In 2019 and 2020 he led the development of UWE’s innovative Climate Action and Sustainability Strategy.
Professor Liz Price
Liz Price is Professor of Environmental Education, Head of Department of Natural Sciences and Academic Institutional Lead for the Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University.
She is Associate Head of School of the European School of Sustainability Science and Research and Advance HE Advisory Group reviewing the Education for Sustainable Development Guidance for the UK.
Joining Liz's keynote will be:
Eleanor Cooke is a second-year undergraduate student at Manchester Metropolitan University, studying TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) with Mandarin.
Chris Kitching is a second-year undergraduate student at Manchester Metropolitan University, studying Environmental Science.
They are both Responsible Futures Student Sustainability Ambassadors.
The Climate Commission: where are we now?
Professor Joy Carter CBE DL
Professor Joy Carter is Vice-Chancellor of The University of Winchester. She is an academic with research based in Geochemistry and Health and was a former President of the international society in her field.
Professor Carter is currently a Co-Chair of the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education, Chair of St Ethelburgas Centre for Reconciliation and Peace and Chair of the National Governing Body (NGB) of Squash.
Manveer is a Project Officer at CDP – a charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities and states to manage their environmental impacts – motivated by the need to integrate ESG issues across mainstream investment processes.