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Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Our University Strategy recognises the important contribution that our teaching activity can make to supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  Business Outcome 52 (pg40) states “We will optimise the University’s contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through our research and teaching…” (University Strategy 2018-23)

We not only strive to deliver high quality teaching that is accessible to all, but we also seek to ensure that all graduates receive meaningful education around the SDGs and have the skills and knowledge to address sustainable development challenges.  

These commitments to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) are outlined within our Environmental Sustainability Policy.  ESD targets within this Policy are monitored by the University Sustainability Management Group, which includes staff and student representatives and reports directly to University Executive.

All our programmes are designed against the Programme Framework for Northumbria Awards (PFNAs) which ensures that all modules equip students with our specified Graduate Attributes. These Attributes have been developed to include the skills and knowledge required by ESD including being ‘equipped to contribute positively to a diverse and global community’ and being ‘able to apply their disciplinary knowledge to complex problems... in order to identify appropriate solutions which are sustainable and justifiable'. For more information on the PFNAs and programme design, visit our PFNA webpages.

Support and Training to For Integrating ESD into the Curriculum

In this section you will find links to resources which might be helpful in supporting the SDGs through your research and teaching.  These include:

  • Overview Guides in support of the SDGs: Resources to support you in delivering impactful research that supports the SDGs.
  • Delivering Education for Sustainable Development: Resources to help you consider how to deliver Education for Sustainable Development within your teaching.
  • Developing your knowledge of the SDGs: Courses and resources to develop your knowledge of the SDGs.


SDG Overview Guides

A guide for each SDG proving an overview of the SDG, relevant keywords for research topics and publications, specific targets and useful links.


Delivering Education for Sustainable Development

Training on Education for Sustainable Development

Training on teaching the SDGs is under development.  To be alerted once this training is available, please contact the Sustainability Manager.


How to connect your subject to the SDGs

Suggestions on which SDGs your subject might connect with and examples of how you might incorporate the SDGs within your teaching.

Departments & SDGs Mapping

Shows suggestions of which SDGs might directly align with your Department.  Follow up by looking at the SDG Overviews for each of the suggested SDGs.  Note: This is just a suggestion of which SDGs might be of immediate relevance – in theory each discipline connects with every SDG so try exploring a few other SDGs too!

Case Studies for all Subjects - A-Z Guide

Produced by NUS this provides examples from other universities of how teaching in every subject area has delivered Education for Sustainable Development and aligned with the SDGs.



Developing Your Knowledge of the SDGs

Courses and resources to help develop your knowledge of the SDGs and to access a range of resources to inform your research and teaching e.g. case studies.

SDG Academy: (SDSN)

The SDSN was commissioned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012 to mobilise scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector to support practical problem solving for sustainable development at local, national, and global scales. Their SDG Academy includes free online courses and the SDG Academy Library - a searchable repository of all SDG Academy course videos, which might be useful in teaching activity.

SDG Resource Centre

Provides up-to-the-minute reports, tools, news articles and publications about the SDGs from around the world, searching millions of articles published daily across more than 75,000 news sources.

United Nations Academic Impact

Northumbria University is a member of the United Nations Academic Impact - an initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in supporting and contributing to the realization of United Nations goals and mandates.  The site supports collaboration, resource-sharing and news updates.

Our Education Quality Enhancement Fund Scheme runs annually and enables all staff to apply for up to £1,000 to undertake a project which advances innovation in learning and teaching to support the commitments made in our University Strategy, including our commitments to Education for Sustainable Development.

Past projects which have been awarded funding include establishing and running a Climate Change Think Tank in the Law School (this is now a University-wide scheme), designing am Environmental Chemistry Escape Room game, and the development of an Innovation Lab. Staff can access further details on the annual scheme here.

There are many opportunities for students to advance their skills and knowledge for sustainability beyond their chosen programme. Our Sustainability Ambassadors Programme supports learning about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and putting this learning into practice. Information on this and other student opportunities can be found on our Student Sustainability Opportunities web pages.

Our Business School is a PRME Champion School (Principles for Responsible Management Education), acting as an exemplar of incorporating issues including ethics and sustainability in its education, knowledge transfer and business engagement activities. It champions this activity to other business schools and universities around the world to drive forward the ESD agenda.

If you have any questions or want to find out more about how you can help support ESD at Northumbria (whether you are a staff or student member), please contact the Sustainability Manager.

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