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Sustainability Symposium 2023: Top-down or bottom-up? How do we ensure all our graduates become sustainable citizens?

The event will offer insights about a range of sustainability issues. It will appeal to academic and professional staff, programme leaders, senior leaders, and students.


Sustainable citizens, people who can apply their knowledge and skills to global sustainability challenges, are increasingly in demand. Employers, professional bodies, students and the public recognise the need for everyone to have greater understanding of our impact on the planet and the skills to alleviate it.

In the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Guidance, published by the QAA and Advance HE in 2021, learning outcomes and teaching and assessment practices were framed around the UNESCO key competencies for sustainability. This means asking what students should be able to knowdo, and be in order to ‘leave the world better than they found it’.  

Many of these competencies are key attributes for graduate success and employability, including how we work with others, within and across disciplines to solve complex problems using critical, systems and future thinking. They also include values-based competencies, or ways of being. How do we support students to reflect on their values and develop the self-awareness needed to understand and evaluate how their beliefs and experiences inform how they act?

Next symposium:

Booking information

Date: 20-21 March 2024

Location: Virtual

Format: Two half days - 20 March, 12.30pm-5pm; 21 March, 9.30am-1pm.


Early booking £193.50

Standard ticket £215

Book your place

Who should attend?

This symposium is aimed at academic and professional staff, students, programme leaders and senior leaders who wish to learn about the latest sustainability innovations and showcase their own initiatives. Students are also invited to present and attend, and we would be delighted to see a strong student presence at the event.

Who is delivering?

Dr Kay Hack (PFHEA)

Lead Consultant (Education)
Advance HE
Dr Kay Hack
Dr Kay Hack (PFHEA) is the Lead Consultant (Education) for Advance-HE. Her role includes developing, managing and promoting excellence in teaching and learning, both generally and within STEM disciplines. She delivers a range of services to the HE sector, including supporting strategic leadership and change in HEIs and building and maintaining strong relationships with the STEM community, PSRBs, government and other organisations and individuals.


Download Programme Day 1

Programme Day 1

Download Programme Day 2

Programme Day 2



Download Abstracts



Keynote Speaker Day 2

Dr Jennifer O'Brien (PFHEA)

Academic Lead for Sustainability Teaching and Learning
University of Manchester
Dr Jennifer O'Brien
Dr. Jennifer O’Brien (PFHEA) is Academic Lead for Sustainability Teaching and Learning at the University of Manchester, UK, and an Inaugural Fellow of the Manchester Institute of Teaching and Learning. Jen is the Education Lead for Sustainable Futures and directs the University Living Lab which links applied research needed by organisations with students who can undertake it for their assessment to effect change. Working with Education for Sustainable Development particularly through the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, Jen believes that students are an undervalued force for sustainable development. A development geographer by training, Jen is interested in the intersection between innovative pedagogy and independent field or applied research aiming to inspire and equip learners to ethically address challenges of sustainability, inequality and social justice to effect positive change.


Professor Douglas Bourn

Director of Development Education Research Centre
University College London
Professor Douglas Bourn
Director of Development Education Research Centre and Professor of Development Education at University College London. Publications include Theory and Practice of Development Education (2015), Understanding Global Skills (2018) and Education for Social Change.