HE7204 - Sustainability in teaching and learning


Sustainability in teaching and learning


20 CC   10 ECTS



Will comprise group teaching sessions, seminars and tutorials 20 hours
Reading and understanding background to issues surrounding the embedding of sustainability into HE, ESD theory and case studies. Carrying out work to apply these complex issues to the individual's subject expertise and to complete the individual assessments. 180 hours

Scheduled hours Placement Hours Independent Guided study
20 0 180

It is expected that students will attend all timetabled sessions and take part in formative feedback opportunities.

Student attendance will be required to present their own case-study and to benefit from formative feedback and reflection activities. This single session will last 2 hours out of a timetabled total of 20 hours contact time.

This module will cover the need for HE institutions to embed the teaching of sustainability within their curriculum in order to meet current and future responsibilities and equip their students for changing environmental, social and economic realities. The role of international legislation, good teaching practice and the implications of divestment, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental management legislation in shaping our curriculum across all subject areas will be examined. In addition, the implications of climate change, resource depletion, biodiversity loss and economic and political responses to these concerns will be discussed with reference to specific curricula. There will be critical evaluation of how sustainability teaching in different HEIs has been conducted so far, and critical review of models for the teaching of environmental sustainability (ESD).

(a)   To review the need for sustainability teaching within HE, including arguments for sustainability from bodies advocating it, and barriers to its inclusion.

(b)   To raise awareness of citizenship, individual and corporate responsibility, sustainable communities and the responsibility on all of us towards the natural environment, humankind and future generations.

(c)   To review approaches to education for sustainable development (ESD) within a HE context.

(d)   To provide a basic understanding of environmental sustainability issues, including how they arose, the current state of life support systems, and implications for all at the scale of the individual, community, organization, government, and internationally.

(e)   To show awareness of the implications of sustainability issues on subject specialisms and apply the means of embedding sustainability learning and teaching into specific subject areas.

Teaching methods will be contingent on group size. The module will be taught using class-room based methods to introduce the topic, its importance for HE, and cover basic sustainability issues. The module will then examine ESD methods and approaches as published in the literature, and allow students to focus on opportunities to embed sustainability into their own subject specialisms. Further teaching sessions will allow students to present individual case studies focusing on potential methods of embedding sustainability in their modules or within their topic areas and to reflect on the teaching and learning issues inherent in these approaches. In-class feedback from peers and the course leader will serve as formative feedback. Students will then go on to submit an outline lesson plan, a reflective report on illustrating ESD and an essay that critically reviews ESD approaches, the wider need to incorporate ESD within HE, and the barriers and opportunities for change. In order to contribute to seminar sessions, critically reflect on their own subject areas and complete the assessments, students will also need to engage in independent study.


At the end of the module students will be able to show

1         An insightful approach to the need and complexities of embedding sustainability education into HE and of the institutional, cultural, national and international barriers and enablers for ESD within the HE learning and teaching environment.

2          Critical understanding of ESD approaches and methods applicable to a higher education setting and the pedagogic implications of these.

3          A wide and holistic understanding of major sustainability issues including climate change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion, ecosystem services, economic and social sustainability within the context of HE teaching and learning.

4         A detailed and critical knowledge of ESD methods and how these can be applied to curricula within a subject area of the students choice, and the ability to reflect on the pedagogic implications of ESD.

Component Weighting % Learning outcome(s) assessed Assessment category
1Presentation of a curriculum with ESD embedded (20% equates to 20 minutes of presentation time- broken down into 15 minute presentation and 5 minutes for questions)20%2,4Coursework
2Reflective report on the pedagogic issues surrounding the embedding of ESD into their curricula -1,000 word report.20%2,4Coursework
3Essay on ESD in the wider HE environment- 3,000 words.60%1,2,3Coursework

Resubmission of failed component(s).

Sustainability in HE

HEA (2011) ESD and the Professional Curriculum https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/esd-and-professional-curriculum-0

HEA (2006) Sustainable development in higher education: current practice and future developments. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/sustdevinHEfinalreport.pdf

QAA http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/Education-sustainable-development-Guidance-June-14.pdf

Gough, S. and Scott, W. (2007). Higher Education and Sustainable Development: Paradox and Possibility. Routledge.

Jones, P,   Selby, D., Sterling, S. Ed. (2010)   Sustainability Education: Perspectives and Practice Across Higher Education. Earthscan.

Johnston, L.F. Ed. (2013) Higher Education for Sustainability: Cases, Challenges, and opportunities From Across The Curriculum. Publisher New York, NY : Routledge.

Sterling, S. (2001) Sustainable Education: Revisioning Future and Change. Schumacher Briefings. ISBN-1-870098-99-4

Sterling, S. (2012) Future Fit Framework: An Introductory Guide to Teaching and Learning for Sustainability in Higher Education Institutions. HEA report. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/future_fit_270412_1435.pdf

Tilbury, D (2011) Education for Sustainable Development: An Expert Review of Processes and Learning. UNESCO report http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001914/191442e.pdf


Sustainability issues- many more subject specific references are available on request

Abdallah, S Michaelson, J., Shah S, Stoll, L and Marks, N (2012). The Happy Planet Index. New Economics Foundation, London. http://b.3cdn.net/nefoundation/d8879619b64bae461f_opm6ixqee.pdf

Flannery T. 2005. The Weather Makers. Our Changing Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth. Penguin Books, London.

Fleming, D. (2016) Surviving The Future, Chelsea Green Publishing.

MacKay, David J. C. (2009) Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air. Cambridge: UIT. In library 333.71 X 6 copies

Talberth J, (2012) Genuine Progress Indicator. Centre for Sustainable Economy http://ec.europa.eu/environment/beyond_gdp/download/factsheets/bgdp-ve-gpi.pdf

The CORE project (steady state economics), University of Oxford www.core-econ.org

United Nations Environment Programme, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). Various summaries and guidance available online. http://www.teebweb.org/


Dr Jane Fisher

Learning and Teaching Institute Module Assessment Board

Learning and Teaching Institute Board of Studies

Tue, 19 Jun 2018

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