Bristol fashion but not very ship-shape

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

This is what the University of Bristol says about itself in EAUC’s 2013 Green Gown winners brochure:

University of Bristol

Embedding Education for Sustainable Development across the curriculum

The University of Bristol has delivered a student led ESD initiative, reflecting its commitment to ‘offering students opportunities to learn about issues of global importance such as environmental awareness and sustainability’.  The work to date has been delivered in a unique way using student interns to lead its development. This has delivered; a full course and module baseline review identifying 23% of courses containing ESD and has led to the inclusion of ESD with student record data; mapping tools which help define ESD and engage academics, one to one assistance for academics; training courses and an ESD teaching and learning guide.  All faculties have engaged in the process with a number of schools ranging from Religious Studies to Dentistry developing ESD activity.  A key outcome of the work has been the inclusion of ESD in all faculties’ Annual Programme Reviews which are reviewed by Faculty Quality Enhancement Team Chairs.

Hannah Tweddell, one of two student ESD interns, said"

“This is a great reward for all the hard work of the ESD interns and the institution; it also promotes the key role students can play in developing ESD, helping others see you can develop an effective ESD approach with limited resources and a joint approach of estates, academics and students.”

… and EAUC's judges commented:

"This entry was highly commended because it represented a truly integrated approach with large-scale buy-in across the University and wider sector.  The outcomes were very positive across a variety of courses and schools."

Now, I don’t want to knock this, because I know something of the work that Bristol does around all this, and would want to celebrate it.  However, when you look at the University’s outward-looking web pages, the story is muted.  Have a look, and see how long it takes you to find a reference to ESD.

There’s no point looking under E in the A–Z section – or under G (for Green Gown / Green Academy), or S, though you will find a “Sustainability” link which takes you here.  At the bottom of this page you find what looks like a piece of 3-year old text:

Teaching and Research

The University of Bristol not only aims to operate in a sustainable way, but looks to teach and research sustainability. In 2010 a new research institute called the Cabot Institute was set up to pull together interdisciplinary research in sustainability. In 2011 the University will be involved in a project with the Higher Education Academy (HEA) on Education in Sustainable Development called Green Academy. The University includes sustainability in a number of subject areas and currently runs an open unit is sustainable development.

If you actively search for "ESD", you are taken to this page:  (which, very oddly, cannot be accessed from the sustainability page:

From here, if you persist, you can reach a very detailed Wiki page ESD Bristol.  This looks like an internal page which external browsers are not supposed to find.  With so much to shout about, you have to wonder why Bristol whispers.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


  • (we won't publish this)

Write a response

  • Glad you are interested in what we are doing. I’m sorry you found it difficult to find our sites. If you google sustainable development at Bristol the first hit listed is - which is our home page for education for sustainable development and takes you into the work done by estates, and education work. It has a link to our wiki resource page. The third item listed on the google search result is the wiki page itself. (If you google ESD at Bristol this is the first hit).

    Our evidence suggests most younger people now google for sites: it’s only older people like you and I who still do things in the way we used to do with paper sources. The Bristol A-Z and internal search engine is not perfect, google is better.
    If anyone has suggestions for things we could include on our sites, ways to improve them or ways to improve their profile, please email us at We are committed to continuous improvement so ideas for things to do better or differently are very welcome. You can also link to us via:

  • Hmm, lot of assumptions there Chris
    1. "Our evidence suggests most younger people now google for sites: it’s only older people like you and I who still do things in the way we used to do with paper sources."

    Really and your older staff and mature students aren't that important to you then?

    2. You seriously expect that if someone is already on your site they should leave it and not use your own search engine

    3. It is pretty clear from Scotts email what you could do for starters such as updating the A-Z