Students driving curriculum quality for sustainability

We’re co-creating a blueprint to counter curriculum greenwash

We’re leading a ground-breaking project with King’s College London and University of the Arts London to drive curriculum quality for sustainability across the Higher Education sector. We’ll be working with students as partners to develop and test a set of principles to assess the quality of Education for Sustainability (EfS) integration, aimed at genuine sustainability learning not just surface approaches. The project is starting a conversation with student voices front and centre, about the potential for ‘curriculum greenwash’.

The project is funded by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for Higher Education, through its Collaborative Enhancement Projects scheme, and runs from February 2022 to June 2023.

Why is this important?

Students want to drive the sustainability agenda and, increasingly, are seeking an education that empowers them with the professional skills to do so. Guidance frameworks on desired learning outcomes and examples of good practice have been developed, touching a wide range of course specialisms. Yet, with no formally recognised sector quality benchmarking, there is huge potential for unintentional greenwash in the way university courses are starting to address sustainability.

To bridge this gap and to equip students as influencers and assessors of course quality in sustainability, this project starts from a set of simple and easy to apply criteria for EfS in undergraduate and postgraduate courses developed at the University, with input from students and academics.

%

students expect sustainable development to be actively incorporated into all courses

%

students want to leave formal education with the knowledge and skills to address sustainability challenges

Working with students in all three institutions, we will test and refine this framework in different university settings and courses, aiming to close gaps between theory, practice and learning experiences in EfS, to zone in on what students most value for their development and future lives and careers.

Statistics from National Union of Students sustainability charity, SOS-UK, research.

Project outcomes

Through this project, we are seeking to:

  • Support students to ask powerful questions about the depth of sustainability learning in their course experience
  • Equip academic teams with inclusive principles for getting to the heart of good curriculum design in sustainability
  • Hear the voices of students on their concerns over curriculum greenwash as sustainability becomes more mainstream
  • Drive up quality in the sector for sustainability learning and bring EfS practice out of the margins of course experiences

    Ground breaking project to counter Higher Education curriculum greenwash

    EfS summer methodology workshop

    QAA student board advises EfS project

    ‘Students driving curriculum quality for sustainability’ is a Collaborative Enhancement Project supported and funded by QAA Membership. The project is led by University of Gloucestershire in partnership with King’s College London and University of the Arts, London. Find out more about Collaborative Enhancement Projects on the QAA website.