Developments and strategy

Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the importance of education in moving towards a sustainable future (often referred to as Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) or Education for Sustainability (EfS)) has been internationally recognised. The goals of ESD are to ensure everyone is able to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future.

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Sustainable Development Reports

HEFCE produced a very significant SD action plan in 2008/09: Sustainable development in higher education: 2008 update to strategic statement and action plan. The latest Sustainable Development Framework has recently been out for consultation and is due to be submitted in 2014. 

HEA/NUS Reports

The HEA in conjunction with the National Union of Students (NUS) have conducted four years of research into student attitudes towards and skills for sustainable development. The reports have demonstrated that over 60% of students think that SD issues should be covered in their course and would like to learn more about sustainability. The most recent report is: Drayson, Bone, Agombar and Kemp. (2013). Student attitudes towards and skills for sustainable development.

QAA ESD Guidance for HE Providers

The QAA has produced its first guidance document around ESD in higher education curriculum launched in June 2014. This guidance sits alongside individual subject benchmark statements and serves as a point of reference for those wanting to incorporate ESD into their teaching and learning, and also into teaching policy and strategy.

Keele University has created an Education for Sustainability Strategy which maps the Education for Sustainability across the University's teaching and learning operations. Progress towards achieving the objectives set in the Education for Sustainability Strategy are reported on to the Environment and Sustainability Steering Group (ESSG), which meets four times per year. 

In line with the Education for Sustainability (EfS) Strategy, an audit of the curriculum is completed to track the number of modules across the University's courses that embed Education for Sustainability. The audit ascertains whether modules contain:

  • an element of EfS
  • strong EfS
  • the potential to include EfS, or that
  • embedding EfS is not practical.

The audit enables subject areas that successfully embed sustainability to be highlighted. Modules where there is potential to further develop EfS can also be identified.

The findings of the audit are reported to the Environment and Sustainability Steering Group and the University Council. Reporting on progress to the University Learning and Teaching Strategy also includes progress in EfS, in line with the objective under Strategic Aim 3 to promote sustainability perspectives in every students' programme of study.

Keele University provides training and support to enable academic staff to embed Education for Sustainability in their teaching, with EfS forming a core part of the induction new academic staff receive. EfS sessions run through the Learning and Professional Development Centre (LPDC) include the New to Education for Sustainability: Integrating Sustainability into Teaching and the Student ExperienceGreen: Keele - Keele's Sustainability Activities, and Dissertations for Good workshops. An online course through Keele's learning pool - Introduction to Environmental Sustainability - also enables staff to develop their knowledge of wider sustainability issues and can inspire discussions about the debates in sustainability that could be integrated into teaching and learning. Bespoke workshops and training sessions are also offered to schools to provide support and guidance on how to embed sustainability into the curriculum. To organise a tailored training session or workshop for your school or teaching team, contact Sarah Briggs, the Sustainability Project Officer, on 01782 734541.

Staff engagement with EfS training sessions is monitored through LPDC to enable current workshops and delivery mechanisms to be reviewed as necessary.



In 2016 Keele University was joint host of the 10th World Student Environment Network Summit. The event welcomed student delegates from universities around the world and featured key note speakers including Professor Stephen Sterling who discussed the future of Education for Sustainability.

10th World Student Environment Network Summit


In 2015 'Green' was a theme of the Keele University 'Be More' events, supported by the Green:Keele team. 'Be More' weeks were two weeks of events put on for students after exams enabling them to develop additional skills whilst having fun.

Be More


In 2015 Keele took part in and was awarded the National Union of Students 'Responsible Futures' accreditation. This accreditation reflects the institution’s and student union’s strong commitment to embedding sustainability and social responsibility into the experience of students studying at Keele.

Responsible Futures


In 2014 the Higher Education did a second evaluation of the 'Green Academy Scheme' undertaken in 2011 in which Keele was included.

Green Academy Scheme


In 2013 Green:Keele teamed up with the University's Curriculum Development and Student Learning team to provide 'sustainability themed' subject specific skills development training sessions.

University's Curriculum Development


In 2012 Keele created the new university-wide role of ‘Director of Education for Sustainability’, to support the embedding of sustainability into the curriculum and student experience.

Director of Education for Sustainability


In 2011 the new ‘Distinctive Keele Curriculum’ was been developed, making sustainability one of three core themes running through all curriculum and co-curriculum developments at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Distinctive Keele Curriculum


In 2011 Keele was one of eight institutions to take part in the HEA’s pilot ‘Green Academy’ change programme, aimed at supporting institution-wide embedding of sustainability.

Green Academy


In 2011 the new Keele University Sustainability Hub opened, providing a base for schools, businesses and communities to learn more about sustainability.

Sustainability hub