Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) – what is it?
Sustainable development pertains to a way of living which does not compromise the ability of future generations to live to the same standard. UNESCO's Decade of Education for Sustainable Development seeks "to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects of learning to encourage changes in behaviour that allow for a more sustainable and just society for all" (UNESCO, 2006). NTU is dedicated to achieving this by working towards the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals as part of the new Agenda 2030 aiming to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.
ESD aims to ensure everyone is able to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to shape a more sustainable future. Armed with the right knowledge and skills, NTU graduates can be capable of contributing to a better world. NTU is committed to sending students out into the world as global citizens, who are sustainability literate and have an appreciation of social and cultural diversity.
Future Thinking and Curriculum Refresh
The Future Thinking framework derives from the QAA Guidelines for ESD and encompasses economic, social and environmental sustainability as well as knowledge, skills and attributes to 'futureproof' NTU's students. It is a central part of NTU's Curriculum Refresh and the framework has been developed to foster students' abilities to understand and contribute in meaningful ways towards current and future global and local challenges.
There is a strong commitment to embed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals into all Courses at NTU supported by the Curriculum Refresh process, which ensures that students explore how aspects of their discipline contribute to achieving one or more of these goals. A great case example is the OATH Project at NTU, led by a student committee they utilise discussions and run workshops on corporate social responsibility to facilitate an understanding of students' own personal values, enabling them to make a pledge about their ethical behaviour as future business leaders. Each year the student committee choose a theme to explore issues, this year’s theme (2018/19) is to investigate the Food Use of UK and Demark to explore sustainability solutions such as reducing waste, plastic, and environmental impacts of food (reducing meat consumption and sourcing sustainable food). It has been embedded into the BA (Hons) International Business (BAIB) course and serves to support NTU's strategic direction of nurturing global citizenship.
The Education for Sustainable Development: Future Thinking Learning Room
The Green Academy developed the Future Thinking Learning Room as support for staff going through the Curriculum Refresh process: a project that will assess all of NTU's 420 courses (both undergraduate and taught postgraduate) over a period of three years commencing in spring 2016.
All courses will need to demonstrate how they align with elements of NTU's Strategic Plan, of which sustainability is a key component. ESD no longer needs to be an afterthought when it comes to curriculum content, and the learning room instead allows it to be an easily achievable priority for course leaders across all academic departments. The learning room also creates a platform for dialogue with academic staff about how to best embed sustainability in the curriculum, with a focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Please note that the learning room is only accessible to NTU staff).
NTU as a Living Laboratory
The learning room exhibits 24 newly created case studies relating to NTU-based projects that have been designed for teaching purposes (click here for an example case study). The case studies focus on both community volunteering projects and innovative environmental work happening on the NTU estate. Each of the case studies contains a short summary, contact details, and how to find out more about the project and how the project relates to the different schools and sustainable development goals. The resources are multi-disciplinary and are intended for use across a wide range of courses throughout all the academic schools at the University.