The 2nd St George's House consultation

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

This is the programme for the first afternoon of the 2nd St George's House consultation on the SDGs.


What are the purposes of tertiary education? Sector snapshots

  • Student, Jodie Waite (University of Bournemouth)
  • Academic, Stephen Sterling (University of Plymouth)
  • University senior management, Joy Carter (University of Winchester)
  • Employer / Professional body, Shane McHugh (Royal Academy of Engineering)
  • Policy maker, David Beards (Scottish Funding Council)

The SDGs, sustainability and tertiary education: national policy perspectives

  • Scotland, Pete Higgins (University of Edinburgh and LfS Scotland)
  • England, Stephen Martin (Change Agents UK)
  • Wales, Carolyn Hayles (University of Wales Trinity St David)
  • Ireland, Paul Walsh (University College Dublin)

Examples of FHE initiatives progressing the SDGs

  • EAUC, Rebecca Petford (EAUC and LfS Scotland)
  • Transition, Maria Cooper (Global Ecovillages Network)
  • Rethinking economics, Maeve Cohen (Rethinking Economics)
  • Glasgow Caledonian University, Cam Donaldson (Glasgow Caledonian University)

Plenary critique and response: How can and should the SDGs influence Further and Higher Education? 


This was a lot of input – 13 presentations in 3 hours; that is, a lot of sitting listening (or not).  I confess I switched off now and then, particularly when people strayed from their briefs and/or only mentioned the goals in passing – one bloke did both most egregiously.

That said, there were impressive things to note.  In no particular order of merit (and who am I to judge ...), I'd point to:

  • Glasgow Caledonian University, Trinity St David, and UWE for the (quite different) ways in which they have integrated a consideration of the goals into their work; hugely impressive.  GC's Fair Fashion, and Social Business degrees, and their research Centre for Climate Justice particularly caught my eye.
  • The coherent policy approaches of the Scots and the Welsh to sustainability in general, and education in particular, seem firmly in place (though not comprehensively so on the ground.  This is impossible in England, of course, for a range of reasons, although positive things happen despite everything and because of committed people, groups and institutions.
  • The evidence that there is a lot of goal-related activity going on in universities whether or not institutions know about, encourage, or care about it ...

The best phrase of the day was Stephen Sterling's "a higher purpose for higher education".  As ever, this doesn't work out quite so well for FE: "a further purpose for ...".

All told, it (and the moderating) was rather good.  More today ...

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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