Sustainability learning experts

The scale of the sustainability challenge requires new thinking and its urgency is forcing rapid rethinking of the learning people need to lead this change in all professions and industries.

Education for Sustainability (EfS) is the field of new practice geared to this ambition. EfS sees sustainability as more than an optional interest or special topic, to slot into existing courses. It reshapes the kind of education we provide and resets our curriculum priorities in all subjects.

We have been leading change on this agenda for more than a decade, developing our own expertise and course offer as well as collaborating widely to shift higher education to mainstream EfS.

See our ambitious new QAA funded student-led project on EfS and quality assessment.

Redesigning course experiences

EfS is still relatively new practice and universities take different paths to develop it – ranging from including relevant content or providing optional learning modules, to more complete EfS approaches that redesign the whole course from its top level aims right down to the assessment process.

We were one of the pioneers to prioritise EfS development and our objectives are about this deeper change across our academic portfolio using authentic professionally relevant learning. Our Sustainability Strategy 2022-2027 continues this work, building on achievements so far:

  • Our sector-leading approach has reached 67% of our core courses and we are aiming for 100%, using a quality lens with targets to anchor EfS deeper into course design and assessments.
  • Our courses that have embedded EfS have won awards, gained professional recognition for staff from Advance HE, and led to students winning awards for their innovative work.
  • We have provided expert advice to the UK Quality Assurance Agency, including being part of the expert group that developed their national EfS guidance for all universities and colleges.
  • We have led a series of EfS innovation projects looking at quality enhancement, professional development, flexible learning and cultural diversity, working with partners worldwide.

Our strategic approach is to embed EfS into academic ‘business as usual’ and we report on the successes of our staff and students in our annual sustainability reporting.

Our EfS expertise

As an early sector leader, UOG has modelled an integrated approach to EfS in the core curriculum and our strategic EfS development programme is led by staff with specialist expertise:

Dr Alex Ryan, SFHEA, FRSA Director of Sustainability (full-time)

Dr Alex Ryan

Director of Sustainability

Alex is an EfS specialist, recognised for her significant contribution to learning innovation in Higher Education with the award of a National Teaching Fellowship in 2017. She has led research and innovation projects with a wide range of partners and agencies, and is director of our UN Regional Centre of Expertise in EfS.

Miriam Webb

Sustainability Engagement Manager

Miriam is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy with expertise in the learning and development of students and graduates as sustainability professionals and leaders. She was nominated to the ‘30 under 30’ sustainability talent list in 2020, through Edie corporate sustainability.

Across our academic schools we have a range of staff with who apply EfS in their teaching alongside research and innovation as well as leading on university-wide EfS activities. For example:

  • Professor Arran Stibbe – National Teaching Fellow and Ecolinguistics expert, creator of the Stories We Live By open learning course featured in AHE/QAA’s EfS good practice collection
  • Clair Greenaway – winner of awards from the National Outdoor Events Association and UN RCE for Events Management course experiences and collaborative learning partnerships
  • Bill Burford – Landscape Architect educator and senior lead for a range of EfS innovations including 2 Green Gown award winning course developments in design subjects
  • Professor Kenny Lynch – National Teaching Fellow and Geography educator with experience in applied EfS assessments and leader of sector-wide sustainability learning projects
  • Margaret McDonough – Senior Fellow of the HE Academy in Fashion Design and creator of UN RCE award-winning EfS learning partnerships as featured in this UN highlights publication
  • Paul Vare – Senior Fellow of the HE Academy and Teacher Education specialist, lead of international Green Gown award winning research on EfS educator competences


Actions we take to support our academic teams to integrate EfS include:


  • Academic policy– EfS is embedded in our Education Strategy as key to the professional currency of our curriculum offer, via inter-disciplinary applied learning that enables students to innovate and work beyond their chosen specialism and contribute to industry change.
  • Training and capacity building– our Learning Innovation for Tomorrow programme supports our course teams to experiment with EfS and embed its principles into course design, and EfS has been an element of our Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice since 2015.
  • Collaboration with students– we work with our student community and course representatives to lead, advise and co-create new course experiences that extend their professional impact and harness their interests and priorities for sustainability change.
  • Learning partnerships – we collaborate with partners in all sectors as ones of UN Regional Centres of Expertise, to develop learning and professional development projects and activities that enable us to fertilise sustainability practice and rapidly drive change across boundaries.