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Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education

Education for Sustainable Development provides formal and infomal learning opportunities which enable all students to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values required to contribute to a sustainable future.

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) equips learners across all disciplines with the knowledge, skills, attributes and values required to pursue sustainable visions of the future. Using active pedagogies learners are supported in addressing complex or 'wicked problems' and identifying how they can contribute to solutions that address environmental integrity, social justice and economic prosperity.

Professor James Longhurst

If we as educators are serious about preparing our students for the future, we must embrace ESD and ensure that every graduate has not only the knowledge and skills but also the attributes that will enable them at least to cope and ideally thrive in the face of the multiple challenges they will face across their life course in the 21st century

Professor James Longhurst, 
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability,
University of the West of England Bristol

Want to know more about Education for Sustainable Development?

The information pack for Education for Sustainable Development contains links to all the resources and content available on this page plus more.

Request a pack
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Education for Sustainable Development Guidance Front Cover

Education for Sustainable Development Guidance

Jointly published by QAA and Advance HE, this guidance provides a framework and guidance to help staff in UK higher education institutions  incorporate Education for Sustainable Development within their curricula. It has been produced by an expert group drawn from across the sector, with the aim of supporting students from any discipline to acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills necessary to develop values and take actions to transition society towards sustainable futures.

The full guidance is available for any staff member or student at a QAA or Advance HE Member institution, with an executive summary publicly available. 

Download the guidance
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Practice Guides to support Education for Sustainable Development

Advance HE and QAA are curating a series of practice guides designed to support institutions to enable Education for Sustainable Development.  These short, practice-based guides are intended to inspire others through providing practical examples of activities from single workshops to long term community engagement projects. The first set of these guides focuses on the student experience and are classified under the following headings:

  • Teaching, Learning and Assessment
  • Staff Development
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Staff-student or student-led project

Published Practice Guides

Practice Guide - Living Lab: Applied research to affect change for sustainable development

Practice Guide - A digital escape room highlighting campus sustainability Initiatives

Has your school, faculty or institution identified this as a key strategic priority?

Advance HE can help you to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement and deliver solutions-based change with a review of the success of any initiatives against KPIs and global frameworks.

Find out more
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Catherine Hack

The higher education sector has a pivotal role and responsibility in protecting the planet, through their research, their estates, their ways of working and their position in global networks. However, the behaviour of their graduates, how they live, learn and work throughout their lifetimes will have a persistent impact on the environmental and social challenges the world is facing. The competencies - the skills, attributes and values - graduates develop through their studies can help them contribute to a more sustainable future, transforming their thinking so that they have a positive impact throughout their lives.

Dr Catherine (Kay) Hack (PFHEA)
Principal Adviser (Learning and Teaching),
Advance HE

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Education for Sustainable Development reports, publications and resources

Advance HE has curated resources to support the understanding and practical application of education for sustainable development. These include teaching resources, research into student attitudes and evaluation guides.

Practice Guide - Living Lab: Applied research to affect change for sustainable development

View the education for sustainable development case study from the University of Manchester

Access the practice guide

Practice Guide - A digital escape room highlighting campus sustainability Initiatives

View the education for sustainable development case study from Keele University

Access the practice guide


Webinar - Leading Sustainability in Higher Education: Leading for a Lost Cause?

View our March 15 webinar "Leading Sustainability in Higher Education: Leading for a Lost Cause?’”. Hosted by Patrick Baughan, this webinar provided a rare opportunity to consider sustainability in conjunction with leadership in HE.

View the webinar (members only).

Voices of Sustainability

As part of our March 2021 Connect Benefit Series theme of ‘Sustainability for Everyone: Here and Now’, this collection of blogs provides diverse perspectives and ideas of sustainability in higher education.

Download the blog collection (members only).

Future Fit Framework

Advance HE's Future Fit Framework, published in 2012, is primarily for academics, policy makers and senior managers, whilst support staff who want to know more about education for sustainable development will also find it helpful.

Download the Framework.

Education for Sustainable Development Tutor Resource and Activity Series

The education for sustainable development tutor resource and activity series  is designed to support the incorporation of education for sustainable development into teaching practice. These tools were created by Professor Simon Kemp who is an expert in education for sustainable development and was named Most Innovative Teacher of the Year at the 2013 Times Higher Education Awards.

Download the toolkit.

Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESD/GC): Evaluating and auditing ESD/GC in teacher education

This guide to good practice in Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship  has has been compiled by members of the steering group of the Teacher Education for Equity and Sustainability Network (TEESNet) – a UK wide network of educators concerned to embed ESDGC in teacher education.

Download the guide.

More resources, reports and publications

You will find links to more resources, reports and publications in our information pack on education for sustainable development in higher education.

Request a pack.
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