University of Gloucestershire wins award for innovation in Education for Sustainability

22 December 2010 | News story

The University of Gloucestershire has won a national award in recognition of its leading efforts to facilitate change in teaching and learning for sustainability across departments. CEC member Professor Daniella Tilbury accepted the award.

Professor Daniella Tilbury, Director of Sustainability at the University of Gloucestershire said: ‘We are pleased that the University has been recognised for its core commitment to ensure that all students, regardless of specialism, have opportunities to develop the capabilities and confidence to meet sustainability challenges in their professional and personal lives.’

The award represented the first time that an educational initiative in sustainability won the continuous improvement category in the hotly contested UK Green Gown awards. The awards are run by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), the environmental and sustainability champion within Further and Higher Education in the UK.

Acknowledging the work of the University over the past 20 years, the judges noted the step changes which had occurred institutionally in the area of education for sustainability, providing new strategies and institutional support mechanisms to transform student learning.

Over the past 20 years, the University of Gloucestershire (UoG) has pioneered and progressively extended sustainability thinking and skills in the curriculum. Its core commitment is to ensure that all UoG students, regardless of specialism, have opportunities to develop the capabilities and confidence to meet sustainability challenges in their professional and personal lives.

Research has shown that it is easier to implement practical changes at Universities than to change its teaching and learning practice. The speed with which carbon agenda has taken root on campus indicates this. Yet there has been very limited progress in curriculum change despite intentions since the ‘70s.

Over time UoG has learned that step changes are required to achieve the ambitious goal of offering sustainability education to all students. A fundamental shift of gear at executive level led to the introduction of new strategies, building upon the innovative work of individuals and ongoing collective learning.

A range of actions have been taken including the development of a framework for teaching and learning that applies across subjects; creation of guidance for specific subjects; development of action plans and professional development workshops for teaching teams; and the development of graduate attributes linked to the future employment needs of students. These actions are bearing fruit for the University and its students: graduates have skills for life and are more employable; they are in a good position to make a positive contribution to professions and to act as change agents in their communities.

The judges felt ‘that significant progress had been made in an important, challenging area. The initiative had very strong potential to be replicated across the sector with the University of Gloucestershire already attempting to do this’.
 

Professor Daniella Tilbury: dtilbury@glos.ac.uk
Dr Alex Ryan: aryan@glos.ac.uk