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The University of Southampton

Education for Sustainable Development

We think that developing people’s skills, knowledge and values around sustainability is key to shaping a more positive future.

We collaborate across the University to ensure that sustainability is represented in our curriculum, and we run activities that allow our students to put their skills into action. 

Student and staff engagement in sustainable development takes place through our widely published and downloadable Sustainability Strategy. We deliver that strategy specifically through our Southampton Sustainability Solutions online module which focuses on sustainability knowledge and engagement with activities. 

The Southampton Sustainability Solutions online module is part of the student induction programme for all undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as the induction programme for all new staff. This module addresses the university sustainability policy, the university sustainability strategy, and engagement opportunities.

Our commitment to ESD is very clear and forms Goal 4 of our six Sustainability Strategy goals, which is signed off at University Executive Board with a member of UEB as the University Champion.  The ESD Goal 4 'Ensure Sustainability is embedded across all our programmes by 2025' also sit as one of the five University Education Strategic Major Programmes, with senior responsibility sitting with our Vice-President Education Prof Deborah Gill.

We have developed our own University of Southampton specific ESD framework and strategy.  Our strategy is clear through Goal 4 of our Sustainability Strategy supported by a set of time-specific targets.  As part of this we have developed our own University-wide Curriculum Mapping framework where every Undergraduate and Postgraduate programme is mapped to the UN SDGs. This has led to a set of University-wide School and Programme ESD documents outlining where the SDGs are delivered, followed by School & Programme specific ESD curriculum development student and staff workshops.

Progress on the integration of ESD into the curriculum is reported on a monthly basis to the University Sustainability Implementation Group, Sustainability Strategy Group, and University Strategic Major Projects Group.  This is then reported to University Executive Board (UEB) and University Senate.  The ESD programme has a senior leader on UEB in the form of the Vice-President Education Prof Deborah Gill, with Prof Simon Kemp as the University Lead in Education for Sustainable Development responsible for the delivery of the integration of ESD across the whole of the university curriculum.

All academic staff can contact Prof Simon Kemp as the University Lead in Education for Sustainable Development for bespoke support in integrating ESD into their curriculum and staff can also access the Southampton Sustainability Solutions online module for training purposes.  All Schools hold individual training workshops led by staff, including Prof S Kemp, and student representatives where ESD integration into their programmes will take place. These workshops will involve the School Head of Education, Programme Leads, Senior Tutors, elected student representatives and any students who wish to participate.

The University is a learning setting for the development of real-life sustainability skills. For example, the Undergraduate and Postgraduate Environmental Law and Management module uses the university campus and specific schools for the student assessed submission of an Environmental Legal Compliance Register, and an Initial Environmental Review report. The Biology programmes uses the campus for biodiversity appraisals. The School of Management run assessments where students conduct sustainability reviews for local SMEs close to campus.  All students can also take part in extra-curricular activities such as Bioblitz and Waste Wars that are held on campus and in university Halls of Residences.


Our Sustainability Events include:


- Waste Wars - This is an annual waste audit to determine how well we are recycling and how we need to improve


 - BioBlitz - This annual biodiversity event encourages students and staff to get involved and find flora and fauna around the estate. This helps us to determine what species we have living amongst us


- Blackout - This is an energy and carbon saving event, with students and staff getting involved to turn off non-essential equipment overnight to see how much energy we can save


- Sustainability Fortnight - Get involved with a range of activities with SUSU, from attending talks to contributing to improve local biodiversity.

Meliora is the world’s first student-led, peer-reviewed journal of sustainability research, and every year we invite students to make submissions so that we can celebrate their work and highlight how they are making the world a better place.

Find out more on the Meliora website.

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