Response and Responsibility: Universities as Actors for a More Sustainable Future – 9/3/20
Westminster Theatre, Chancellor’s Building
Keele, Newcastle ST5 5BG
Awareness of the need for urgent action to ensure a more sustainable future seems to have reached a tipping point, reflected in 2019 by organisations and nations declaring a climate emergency, and an increasing global focus on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Educational institutions are vital contributors towards this more sustainable future. In 2005, the Higher Education Funding Council for England laid out a vision that within 10 years the HE sector in England would be recognised as a major contributor to society’s efforts to achieve sustainability through its own strategies and operations, and the skills and knowledge that its graduates put into practice; adding in 2008 the role of research, knowledge transfer and business and community engagement.
‘Education for sustainability’ can take many forms, from the formal curriculum we teach, the co-curriculum in the opportunities we provide for students, and the ‘hidden curriculum’, in the learning that occurs from the environment in which we live, work and study. But how do we as educators navigate the tensions and synergies between the drive to ensure employable, high earning graduates, metrics driven league tables, and the responsibility to ensure our students, society’s future leaders, are equipped to become knowledgeable and engaged actors with the skills to educate and influence others, and the agency to enact change.