Green Impact in the curriculum

Friday 16-12-2016 - 09:00

The Green Impact programme has evolved since its inception ten years ago. Starting as an environmental management programme, Green Impact is now a far-reaching and holistic sustainability framework. An important part of this is building links between students’ formal learning and sustainability.  

NUS’ thinking around Green Impact is underpinned by principles of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). ESD is defined 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.”

Through Green Impact, we take students and staff through the entirety of ESD by going beyond knowledge and understanding, to applying their skills and developing their attributes to promote sustainability.

Through longitudinal research conducted over the last 6 years, we know that 80% of students consider sustainability a priority for their institution, and 72% think it should be embedded within courses. In order to have a meaningful understanding of sustainability in the context of their own discipline, it should be embedded throughout the formal and informal curriculum.

Through opportunities like becoming Green Impact Auditors and Green Impact Project Assistants, as well as volunteering with their students’ union, students already have the opportunity to develop their ESD knowledge, skills, and attributes in the informal curriculum. However, across the sector, there are many more opportunities to further embed ESD in the formal curriculum.

New academic actions have been developed for universities and colleges to help you to address this. The academic actions aim to engage academic teams in embedding sustainability across their teaching, assessment and research. They form helpful links to our Responsible Futures accreditation, too, should you be pursuing it now or in the future.  

An example of good practice comes from the University of Bristol’s medical school where second year students were asked to feed into the design of a new Green Impact toolkit, creating actions that GPs would then be asked to undertake as part of a programme led by the Royal College of General Practitioners. This was part of a ten-week for-credit module, which helped develop students’ understanding of sustainable healthcare. Students then partnered with GPs to help them implement the Green Impact programme.

Another example of good practice comes from the Anglia Ruskin University, who put ESD skills development at the core of their Responsible Futures audit. To recruit auditors, they advertised the volunteer role through their work experience programme. Over 60 students applied, from a plethora of academic backgrounds. The students selected to take part fedback that the learning experience was significant in transforming their understanding of sustainability, and in developing their skill set to enable them to enact positive change.  

If you’re a university lead contact who wants to include the academic actions within your toolkit, please contact your project officer. For anyone else who wants to explore opportunities to link Green Impact to the curriculum, or curriculum reform work, please contact sustainability@nus.org.uk to find out more. 

Related Tags:

sustainability,curriculum reform,green impact,curriculum,formal learning,Education for Sustainable Development

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