UCU Guidance Leaflet No. 1: 'Education for Sustainable Development'

Tags: Student Engagement | ESD | learning | guide | higher education institution | Operational | Learning and Teaching | strategic | Adult Education | Teaching Research | Leadership Governance | UNDESD

This guide is one of a series designed to help UCU members engage with their institution on the ‘green agenda’. This is an area that is extremely important and we urge you to make sure that the views and interests of staff are addressed.

What do we mean by Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)?

Sustainable development seeks to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations (Bruntland Report,1987).

This notion is an idyllic vision of development which encompasses the entirety of the environmental sphere such as populations, animal, plant species, ecosystems, natural resources and that integrates social concerns such as the fight against poverty, gender equality, human rights, education for all, health, human security, intercultural dialogue and econmoic vibrancy including profit, cost saving, growth and research & development.

We have to learn our way out of current social, economic and environmental problems and learn to live sustainably. ESD aims to help people to develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge to make informed decisions for the benefit of themselves and others, now and in the future, and to act upon these decisions.

Environmental action is a fundamental part of the concept of sustainability.

Why is it an important issue for UCU?

UCU has established ESD as a key component of its environmental work. It is important to us because:

  1. our members are the people who have to deliver the curriculum so it is crucial that they have an opportunity to influence it.
  2. incorporating ESD effectively will help to ensure that courses are relevant to the development of a low carbon economy
  3. it provides an opportunity for the union to be pro-active on an issue which many members consider to be a priority
  4. it can be an important organising tool to attract non-members and involve existing members
  5. in a period of FHE job cuts it offers the potential for job creation