Dr Sarah Gretton is a prime example of what can be achieved if just one person stands up and puts their energy, passion and talents into making a difference.
Five years ago, Education for Sustainable Development was an un-resourced niche interest area at Leicester with occasional meetings of a handful of staff who managed to put a relevant module together and held two or three poorly attended lunchtime information sessions a year. Today, we can fill a large room with academics from subjects as diverse as English, Law, Sociology and Medicine enthusiastically discussing how they can use the UN Sustainable Development Goals to embed sustainability within their courses. We also give guidance on completing a (now compulsory) sustainability section of the Programme Approval Form. Furthermore, sustainability is now included within the Transferable Skills Framework and we have a range of inter- and extra-curricular sustainability learning opportunities for all our students, including the Distance Learners.
Dr Gretton has tirelessly pushed the ESD agenda at Leicester despite a lack of resource, senior support and all in her spare time (we don’t think she sleeps much!). Now ESD is a formal work stream, is being resourced and its importance and relevance to our students is recognised and celebrated at all levels of the University. Sarah has not worked for pay or glory but she remains an enthusiastic, inspirational leader because she fervently believes that our job as educators is to inform our students about the challenges facing the world today, and to produce socially-responsible global citizens equipped with the knowledge and skills to tackle these challenges head on, regardless of the subject they studied.
Top 3 learnings:
1 Embedding sustainability into the wider curriculum requires engagement across the institution.
2 Students and staff are excited about developing graduates who can act as change agents.
3 A grassroots approach to institutional change can reap rewards.