We have been internationally recognised for ground-breaking work to make sustainability an organisational change and academic innovation priority. Our story has unfolded over more than 25 years and we have received a range of awards, funding and commissions for sustainability work, particularly in our specialist area of Education for Sustainability.
Some of our proudest achievements
- Top 10 and 1st Class status in every run of the People & Planet UK universities sustainability league table
- Special Recognition Award in 2013 for consistent high performance. See the story on our current position here
Green Gown Award
- Winner of three UK Green Gown Awards for institutional development and curriculum change in 2008 and 2010 and research with impact in 2019
- 10 Highly Commended nods and 24 Finalist nominations in the UK Green Gown Awards since 2005
Regional Centre of Expertise
- United Nations University ‘Flagship Project’ awards for 6 of our UN RCE Education for Sustainability projects
- Led an EU-funded UN RCE project with 53 partners in 33 countries on professional development for sustainability
ISO 14001:2015 status
- 1st English university to gain ISO 14001 status with an environmental management system including curriculum
- Achieved accreditation to the new ISO 14001: 2015 standard in 2017 including our academic activities
UK Quality Assurance Agency
- Led ground-breaking project with UK Quality Assurance Agency on sustainability in curriculum enhancement
- Invited to the expert forum to develop the subsequent QAA national guidance on sustainability in the curriculum
Evolution of our sustainability story
In the 1990s our staff began to work for change across the university to recognise the critical threat that unsustainable development means for future generations. We set up our first environmental committee soon after and released our first public environmental report on 2006-07 performance.
Even at this stage, we had a vision for an approach that would reach across the campus operations, curriculum experiences and corporate decision making. A memo from staff to senior management in 1991 showed the range of concerns at that early stage – see extracts in this snapshot image.
Our Centre for Active Learning – one of the Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England from 2005-2010 supported academics in several courses to experiment with sustainability as a dynamic new priority for education.
In 2007 we appointed our first Director of Sustainability to create an approach that would set our direction for ‘whole institution’ change. Recognised sustainability expert Professor Daniella Tilbury led our first strategy ‘Promising Futures’ from 2008-2015 which established our global reputation.