The National Union of Students (NUS) has selected Chester Students’ Union and the University of Chester to be one of 13 Higher Education institutions to take part in the Responsible Futures pilot programme. The NUS (2015) believes that “Providing the skills, experience and knowledge for our emerging low-carbon economy is a key priority for education in the 21st century.” Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a key objective within the University’s Sustainability Strategy, Sustainability Vision 2020, and sits within the Curriculum theme.
We have adopted the definition of ESD used by the Quality Assurance Agency and the Higher Education Academy (2014, p. 5), which define it as “the process of equipping students with the knowledge and understanding, skills and attributes needed to work and live in a way that safeguards environmental, social and economic wellbeing, both in the present and for future generations.”
At the University of Chester, ESD is related to the:
- Curriculum (developing skills in responsible management, ethical consideration, and sustainable development).
- Campus (carbon management, key sustainability impacts, and sustainable food).
- Community (workers’ rights, ethical investments, and partnerships).
- Cultures (auditing of systems, human resource management for sustainability, empowering staff, and student engagement)
Chester Students’ Union strongly believe that embedding ESD within the curriculum is the most important contribution that universities can make to progress towards a sustainable future, as well as preparing students for life and employment as sustainability becomes an increasingly important aspect of both.
Chester Students’ Union is working together with the University to begin the journey of integrating sustainability into the curriculum. We have established our Sustainable Innovation Lab (working group) for Responsible Futures, which is chaired by Karen Willis, Dean of Academic Quality and Enhancement. To understand where we are starting from, we will be looking at a sample of programmes, for indicators of what may be included in the documented curriculum, and to stimulate discussion around sustainability and its integration into the curriculum.