Green Academy outcomes – more clarity please

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

Here are the details that HEA has released about this year's Green Academy participants.  Two things strike me about all this: [i] the breadth and potential richness of it all; [ii] the lack of clarity about just what proposed outcomes are.

As I noted earlier, I don't envy the HEA's evaluators their task of sorting out just what's been achieved (as opposed to merely being done).  The institutions may find that tricky too.  I fear that it will all be hugely successful, but that little will change as a result.  I wonder, for example, if any of them have identified KPIs.  Given that Hefce has singled out  the Green Academy as an on-going priority for the HEA, greater clarity about desired outcomes might have been prudent.

Here's what they say ...

Anglia Ruskin University - Connecting up experiences of sustainability at Anglia Ruskin University

Membership of the Green Academy will help us connect-up students and staffs experience of sustainability. This is essential if sustainability is to become embedded within our culture and values.

  • Connecting strategic goals with organic growth. In order to ensure that there is not just compliance but genuine commitment to our strategic targets we have been emphasising ‘why’ embedding sustainability is so important. We now need development additional practical programmes which can have significant and long term impacts on student’s formal and informal learning.
  • Connecting sustainability with high quality learning and teaching. We aim to use sustainability and its links with employability, to raise the quality of teaching and learning by encouraging changes in pedagogy which give our students agency for change.
  • Connecting the formal and informal curriculum and research. In order to forge links between the formal and informal curriculum and research we have initiated a number of student centred projects across the University, including Go Green, The ESD badge, Biodiversity benchmarking and Green Marketing. They are designed and/or implemented by students providing valuable employability skills whilst making a measurable difference to our University.
  • Connecting academic and support staff and students. Estates based environmental initiatives have paved the way for a fuller consideration and appreciation of sustainability at ARU. We now need to broaden the appeal of these environmental projects, to link them more fully with the formal curriculum and engage academic staff as well as support staff in their operation.

University of Chichester - Learning for the Future: Embedding Sustainability in the Curriculum

The University of Chichester has come a long way in greening its operations. However, this approach is quite systems orientated is and aligned to Environmental Management Systems. This is not particularly student facing, and despite some pockets of best practice, we have failed to develop a more central and institutional strategy for embedding ESD. Therefore the aim of Learning for the Future: Embedding Sustainability in the Curriculum, is to gain support in drawing together discrete pockets of activity, and to create a holistic approach to delivery that we can offer to staff and students – an effective green hub – that will also serve to frame wider green development across the University.

De Montfort University - Green citizens for the real world

From involvement in Leicester’s successful bid to become the first environment city in 1991, creating the unique Institute for Energy and Sustainable Development in 1994 to forming the cross university Sustainable Development Task Force, De Montfort University has demonstrated commitment to sustainable development. A ‘Strategy for Sustainable Development’ was adopted in 2008 leading to ‘a commitment to make a significant contribution to global efforts to achieve environmental sustainability’ being enshrined in the University Strategic Plan in 2011. Current strengths are an interdisciplinary approach between estates and research, carbon management and post-graduate taught provision with an increasing emphasis on energy, industrial sustainability and Green ICT/Digital Economy.

University of East Anglia - Greening Tomorrow’s Leaders: Developing sustainability perspectives and skills across disciplines at UEA

Should every graduate be able to bring a sustainability 'perspective’ to their chosen field of study? If so, how can this be achieved across the varied, even contradictory, ways in which our academic departments understand and teach sustainability-related topics?  This project will draw together the practical and theoretical ways in which our rural campus can engage new pedagogical approaches, develop 21st century employability skills and ensure a more integrated student experience.

University of South Wales- Embedding Sustainable Development in a New Welsh University

The University of Wales, Newport and the University of Glamorgan are planning to form a new university in south east Wales in 2013. Both institutions have a good record of innovation in environmental management and in curriculum development related to sustainable development. This collaborative project will involve staff and students from both institutions working to develop a sustainable development ethos across the new university. Students will play a key role in shaping and communicating the vision of a sustainable development focused institution. Whilst continuing to make improvements in environmental performance, the university will also develop the economic and social dimensions of sustainable development, embed SD in the curriculum more explicitly and ensure that sustainability skills are developed by all learners particularly at undergraduate level. This is a unique project using change management tools from the very outset of a significant higher education merger.

University of Kent - ‘4C’ing the Future: an inclusive approach to sustainability

The University mission emphasises the need to ‘use natural resources creatively, responsibly and sustainably’ and this proposal seeks to create a framework that will promote values, ideals and practical aspects of living, studying and working in a sustainable way that will inform future policies and practice using the 4C model (Jones et al, 2010). Building upon the initial success of the Creative Campus, Green Impact and Carbon Management projects, there is now a need to coordinate efforts in a way that increases student engagement and informs strategic sustainability plans, in order to encourage further development of a culture for sustainability in the formal and informal curriculum, both on campus and in the wider community.

With a team of academics, students, Kent Union and Estates, participation in the Green Academy will help us to review our current provision and practice, and coordinate our efforts towards developing a more sustainable future at Kent. Our aim is to develop a framework and case studies for integrating such opportunities within the curriculum in a more systematic way to address key priorities in the Estates, Employability and Learning & Teaching Strategies that will broaden the experience and skills of students to meet the demands of the 21st century as global citizens. ‘Students are environmental champions, and expect the University to demonstrate corporate and social responsibility in the use of natural resources…which can only become more important in the future.’ (University Plan 2012-15).

University College London - Unlocking the Potential

University College London (UCL) has identified sustainability as a core value for the institution. In this regard, UCL recognises that, as a world-class, multidisciplinary university, it has an important role to play in contributing to sustainable development: addressing the environmental and social impact of our activities and operations; and deploying our academic excellence, entrepreneurship and research activities to tackle real-world challenges, and contributing to the solutions.

With the launch of UCL’s first Environmental Sustainability Strategy, the role of education and research in delivering sustainable development has been bought to the fore, as a core sustainability objective for the Institution. UCL already provides education for sustainable development through a number of its disciplines and departments but the focus is now on understanding the strength of this activity and how it can be developed. This will focus on the formal and informal education, which is provided through assessed education, conversation and experience.

In the 2012/13 academic year, UCL will launch the Global Citizenship programme which will seek to engage 4,000 undergraduates from all disciplines studying courses with sustainability-themed content each year.

This proposal is about unlocking the potential of UCL’s staff and students: understanding what and how UCL currently provides education; embedding the principles of ESD into our Global Citizenship Programme; and drawing knowledge from our experience and others to develop formal and informal education opportunities.

Nottingham Trent University - Food for Thought

The Green Academy Initiative at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) on the subject of ‘food for thought’ enables us to engage both staff and students with sustainability in terms of practical positive action, research, learning and teaching using the theme of food. It is intended that the focus of ‘food for thought’ will later lead to further activity in other areas of sustainability outside of the theme of food.

Our institutional mission to provide ‘education and research which shapes lives and society’ reflects our existing commitment to sustainability. NTU has made major achievements in the area of sustainability in recent years with clear related strategy and activity in the areas of estates, procurement, waste, volunteering, catering and curriculum (see our Graduate Attributes)

One project to be introduced within the Green Academy is a project called ‘Sustain Yourself’ which aims to engage students in ESD through the themes of food and health. The project will involve a series of optional cookery courses’ to ‘sustain yourself’ throughout the academic year. It is intended that the sessions will support students to adopt healthy lifestyles, develop important life skills, socialise with other students, feel more ‘at home’ at the university and place their activities and consumption patterns in the context of wider local and global networks e.g. in terms of food supply and security and food miles. The project which builds on an existing course led by the School of Education will link to existing initiatives such as work by NTU catering on sustainable food, student cookery books which have been developed by Support Services and others.

University College Plymouth, St Mark and St John - Sustainability and Identity

Embedding of sustainability within the curriculum and placing upon all members of the University College community a duty of care towards the environment is the key focus of this project. The University College has at its heart a notion of social justice and community focus but this is not well reflected in a joined up approach to what sustainability really means for the institution. Much is done within the institution, including the operation of a ‘corporate social responsibility group’, student volunteering in the local community and, in some academic areas such as teacher training and outdoor adventure education, a great deal of curriculum work is undertaken on the environmental impact of the way we live our lives. However this message is not coherent, nor spread more widely across the institution and this project will focus on a holistic approach to sustainability, linked in with a reassertion of the lived identity of the University College. The project will link into curriculum content, our ‘professional plus’ award for students undertaking extra curricula activities in the sustainability field, estates developments and ‘greening the campus’ initiatives. Our specific ideas are under-developed and we would use this project to expand and develop a more specific and deliverable strategy. This initiative comes at a time when the University College has been recommended for university title and we will be reviewing what this means for our identity, our priorities and our projected institutional image – sustainability as a strategic identity driver will enhance our USP.

University of the Arts, London College of Fashion - Lightening the Load: Creating Change for sustainability through Fashion Education

London College of Fashion is proud to be working with HEA’s Green Academy programme to develop long-term transformational change for sustainability across the institution. As a world leading fashion educator we are committed to nurturing people to have the competencies and skills to negotiate an ever-changing world facing critical shifts of resources, economy and power. We want to rethink the university experience to create a space that allows students and staff to be experimental, critical, global, interdisciplinary and collaborative. We want industry and society to be inspired to work with us as we act on both current and longer-term imperatives. Moving beyond the service‐led model of education provision can nurture a culture of creativity and critical thinking, capable of responding to global and local issues with new models for thriving societies and economies. Fashion offers an apt context for Education for Sustainable Development, and through its power as a communicator, can have impacts far beyond one industry, to contribute to greater balance in society, economy and humanity.

With support and guidance from the GA mentors, we aim to:

  • Work with ESD and transformational change experts to develop a 10-year plan for institutional change for sustainability at LCF through co creation with its community.
  • Develop processes, projects and benchmarks that articulate and embody this vision for teaching and learning, sharing across subject areas.
  • Consider internal and external communication of a culture and strategy of sustainability.


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