We aim to embed the UN SDGs in all our programmes by 2025. See below some fantastic examples of how academics are embedding sustainability and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within their teaching.
Responsible Project Management
Leading the development of a new concept – Responsible Project Management (RPM) - Karen raises awareness of sustainability and empowers project management practitioners, educators, researchers and professional bodies to improve their practice. Projects deliver change across the globe and are worth billions annually.
RPM combines project management and sustainability by proposing the SDGs as a framework for better decision-making and project managers as advocates for beneficial change in business and society. The Guide she co-created with practitioners and researchers is now being used as an educational resource and inspiration for dialogue in the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Palestine and Vietnam. Success of RPM is encouraging Karen to challenge colleagues to transform their education and research by using sustainability as a lens rather than an add-on to their disciplines. Re-thinking of many existing business models is urgent, and Karen embeds this line of thinking throughout project management courses at BU.
Karen is a co-chair of our Sustainability Academic Network, and was highly commended in the Green Gown Awards 2019.
Masters in Business Administration (EESD Award Winner 2020)
The new Masters in Business Administration (MBA) programme was underpinned by the UN SDGs . Commended by the revalidation panel for “Incorporating sustainability and responsibility into the curriculum”, many assignments were sustainability focussed and for their final projects, around half of the students chose to focus on the SDGs.
The new MBA programme is underpinned by the UN SDGs and represents “a real shift in thinking” within the business sector. This ethos was commended by the revalidation panel for “Incorporating sustainability and responsibility into the curriculum through units such as ‘Developing Sustainable Strategies’ and ‘Leading and Managing Change in Socially Responsible Organisations”. Assignments within these units are ESD inclusive e.g. formulating a 5 year sustainable development plan, whilst another requesting a management report, analysing the business environment in electric vehicles market (meeting goals 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17). The Shaping the Future of Work unit considers contemporary trends/issues disrupting/shaping our workplace covering areas such as AI/unconscious bias, universal credit and purposeful work (meeting goals: 1,4,5,8,9,10,12,16,17). Projects and Guest lectures include expectations on sustainability in the coffee market; diversity at AFC Bournemouth and self-management at Lush.
The MBA Programme Team were a winner of our Excellence in Education for Sustainable Development Award 2020.
The judges commented: “Being the only group to enter this competition, the work of the MBA programme team is a leading example of how departments can work collaboratively to embed the SDGs in their teaching, not just as an add-on but as an integral part of the programme delivery and outcomes.”
Entrepreneurship & Business Ventures (EESD Award Winner 2020)
Dr Sukanya Ayatakshi-Endow strongly believes in the power of enterprise in changing society. Through her unit, students are expected to work, in groups, with local socially focused businesses supporting them on their business model/planning needs, with the networking facilitated via the BU Social Entrepreneurs Forum which was set up to support our students' engagement with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
In the unit, students were introduced to global challenges and, via BU Social Entrepreneurs Forum, connected to projects within Dorset which met the UN SDGs. Please see link. In addition, they celebrated the very first BU Global Entrepreneurship Week highlighting the focus on SDG5 Gender Equality through a panel comprising of women entrepreneurs including those who travelled all the way from Brazil and a micro finance, micro granting event called BH Soup.
Student testimonials highlighted that the unit has opened their eyes to global challenges and as a result, many were designing ventures that fit the needs of the society and the environment. Sukanya has had countless local socially focused businesses approach us to work with them, via student projects, on UN SDGs within their business plans and further their sustainability agenda, and many businesses worked with said what an impact the students have.
You can read more here.
Sukanya was a winner of our Excellence in Education for Sustainable Development Award 2020.
Global Business Ethics (EESD Award Winner 2020)
Louise Preget developed an online unit which develops students' skills in sustainable, responsible and ethical management practice within an institutional and global context. Critical reflection is encouraged via analysis of corporate practice, TED talks, discussion forums and assessments that require researching a corporations ethical stance in regards to CSR & sustainability. Topics taught include ethical decision making, responsible global business practice such as ethical supply chains, and responsible governance and academic content through a series of recorded lectures integrated topics such as climate change and sustainable innovation into the curriculum. The coursework enabled deeper and transformative learning which gave them autonomy to tackle actual scenarios where irresponsible practices were demonstrated by a corporation and then in the second assignment to explore best practice and industry solutions for more sustainable ethical practice. Discussions then enabled them to understand their own values in relation to others and the corporate world.
Louise highlights a key impact being the development of the students knowledge that for business to act in a responsible and sustainable way, it required significant change to insitutions but also to individuals who work within them. Although a small cohort, 100% of students were engaged and felt that they were developing as responsible business leaders.
Louise was a winner of our Excellence in Education for Sustainable Development Award 2020.
Foundation Year Business
Dr Camila Devis-Rozental, Susanne Clarke and Laura Roper explore specific areas of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). They deliver lectures and seminars on social and corporate responsibility, after which students developed a social responsibility statement for their business simulation and explained how they were meeting the UNSDGs. Sessions were also delivered on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), one of those with invited speakers with activities exploring the difference between equality and equity, socio-emotional intelligence, a strength-based questionnaire and the Myers Briggs questionnaire to reflect on student wellbeing. Other activities included a privilege virtual walk to learn about intersectionality and their own privilege, where students drew a flower with petals representing the areas within their privilege important to them, being presented with a persona with multiple characteristics to explore how they support them as allies to minimise microagressions and remove barriers and creating an advert for a company demonstrating their social responsibility.
"I believe that this is very important to all of the students as learning the importance of diversity, kindness, team work and purpose has helped in developing meaningful relationships and encouraged students to engage and feel like part of a team"
Tourism and hospitality
Steve Richards embeds the UNSDGs in his Level 5 unit, Destination Development and Management. Its learning objectives include:
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of development in a destination context, and how tourism can contribute to meeting sustainable development goals.
- Be aware of a range of issues that may need to be addressed in the future development of tourism destinations.
To allow for critical thinking, the evolution of the concept of development is covered, showing how it has changed from a focus on economic growth, to a multi-dimensional concept. For their first assignment, students choose an SDG and consider how tourism can contribute to meeting it, using an holistic approach highlighting linkages between goals. For their second assignment, systems thinking and a future-facing approach is used, where students apply resilience thinking and scenario analysis to develop viable and inclusive solutions for a tourism destination to bounce back better after the pandemic. This was reflected in the positive MUSE feedback (averaging 91% across all questions).
Students engaged well with the topic and enjoyed learning about the SDGs. As students selected their own SDGs they could develop their own interests further, and this led to surprisingly engaging seminar sessions on zoom with students debating the issues. Two students who were not enrolled in the unit even attended the sessions as they heard from fellow students about the subject and wanted to learn as well. This topic seems to have sparked a genuine interest amongst some students. Several students signed up for a conference organised by the Business Travel Association on gender quality in the travel industry, and some have asked whether they can conduct a consultancy project linked to the SDGs in their final year. From my perspective, I found watching the videos the student submitted, and the passion they shared, to be the most rewarding assignment I have ever set.
Marketing and Strategy
The Marketing and Strategy is one of the biggest units taught at Postgraduate level in the Business School, and Samreen Ashraf and her colleagues keep UN SDGs at the core of its teaching and assessment. They have enabled our students to critically reflect upon the existing CSR strategies of real-life companies to recommend them future facing strategies by addressing one or more UN SDG. This assessment also encourages students to develop their system thinking since it takes into account the differences and similarities in the application of these CSR marketing strategies based on their country of operation. Students are required to compare the application of their proposed CSR marketing strategies in two countries of their own choice. This is done by applying a range of holistic frameworks such as marketing mix (product, place, price and promotion), cultural theories, macro and microenvironment tools and drawing their discussion from the CSR theories.
"Seeing students utilising the knowledge gained through this subject in their work post study and sharing the examples with us is fulfilling to see. We strongly recommend colleagues to include UNSDG goals in their curriculum. It is crucial for our students to learn and understand the impact of sustainability in our personal and work lives."
Live Event Development and Delivery
The Virtual Fusion Festival is part of the Level 5 Live Event Development & Delivery unit’s assessment led by Dr Paola Vizcaino and Dr Aravind Reghunathan
Within this, events management students work with external partners to plan and co-create eight virtual events over three days that respond to an organisation’s need or broader societal need such as workplace wellbeing. The unit content emphasises the three dimensions of sustainability:
- economic (creating a sound event budget);
- environmental (use of resources, waste generation, carbon footprint);
- and social (equality, diversity, inclusion considerations).
In their post-event reports for the 2020-21 cohort, students recognised the sustainability gains of virtual events, including: zero paper waste thanks to online ticketing and the adoption of digital marketing strategies; limited carbon footprint due to no travel or accommodation requirements; adoption of pricing strategies that allowed a broader range of participants to attend; use of Zoom’s automated live caption feature to make the events accessible for the hearing impaired; securing a diverse line up of performers or speakers.
"As the sustainability manager, my role mostly consisted of ensuring that our event was diverse, inclusive and accessible as well as limiting the negative impacts on the environment. Our event concept (virtual comedy evening in aid of a mental health charity) fits with the very idea of sustainability. The virtual environment contributed to reducing the event budget, as there was no need to hire a venue, or purchase any single use items. Social benefits include accessibility for those with disabilities, but also during the pandemic, virtual events offer an opportunity for social interaction. We asked our attendees to turn on their microphones and cameras and somewhat successfully created an ambiance similar to what you may find in a traditional comedy club, including interactions between comedians and the audience.”
“A study conducted by Meet Green has shown that a physical event can contribute up to 170 kg of CO2 and create up to five tonnes of waste, alongside the increase of carbon footprint due to travelling to and from the venue (Neil, 2020). Through events like ours taking the virtual approach, this means reduction in travel, making positive contributions to environmental sustainability, and paper waste being reduced through online ticketing and digital marketing.”
Fundamentals of Marketing
Maria Musarskaya teaches a session covering the 17 UN SDGs and the work of BU's own Sustainability Team in three of her units (Strategic Retail Marketing and Management at Level 6; Fundamentals of Marketing at Level 4; Principles of Marketing at Level 4), reaching around 500 students per year. These sessions included information as well as interactive activities to get students involved in a discussion about the UN SDGs. A dedicated Discussion Forum has also been created for students to share sustainability-related content, questions, and discussions. As part of the assessment, Level 6 students create a 3-year strategic plan for a retailer that incorporated sustainability while Level 4 students work with a live client (SME or charity) to help them develop products and services in a sustainable and ethical way. These solutions were then shared with the clients to incorporate them into their short and medium term projects.
Students found this approach very interesting and relevant as they had a lot of choice in terms of which UN SDGs they wanted to focus on and being able to work with live clients and provide real-word solutions helped them see how they can make a real impact in this world. The impact is seen in both students and clients as both benefit from this initiative. Some students have never heard of the UNSDGs so this was a great learning opportunity as well.
- Dr Sean Beer teaches his MSc Hotel and Food Services Management and MSc Events Management students about applying the ‘triple bottom line’ standard approach for full cost accounting developed by the United Nations International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. He teaches his students to use the approach in the context of food and drink considering political, economic, social, technological, environmental and gastronomic aspects. Students learn about sustainability in a broad context and gain skills in holistic thinking using a systems approach.
- Dr Nicole Ferdinand, Dr Nigel Williams and Liz Gordon teach MSc Events Management students about sustainability by asking them to stage live events which they then evaluate using holistic techniques such as the triple bottom line. These events must show consideration to the long term needs of society and where an event is for a charity, it must both attract attendees and draw attention to the charitable cause. Students learn problem solving and critical thinking skills and how to design sustainable events which demonstrate cultural sensitivity.
- Michael O’Regan and Christina Squires lead and Event Management unit where students develop and execute their own events on campus, and teach this with specifics UN Sustainable Development Goals in mind. A flipped learning approach is used, and sustainability is highlighted before the rest of the key practices in events management. To deepen their understanding, each group discusses how sustainable their decision making is, and check their resolve to create more sustainable events. They are then given a hand-out whereby they can rate the sustainability of their event. Finally they are asked to discuss with peers to problem-solve their event organization in order to become more sustainable.
Faculty of Science & Technology
Cultural Psychology (EESD Award Winner 2021)
The Cultural Psychology unit discusses behavioural differences across cultures and theories to explain these differences. It explicitly addresses six UN SDGs within lectures, seminars, open discussions, and assessments, in a cross-cultural and globalised context. Interconnected topics including socialisation and development, cultural norm and multicultural contact, interpersonal/group relationships, gender differences and equality, justice, mental health, morality, motivation, self-identity and personality, social/emotional wellbeing, sexual and cyber behaviour, and bilingualism.
It urges students to critically think about the diversity of the human mind in the increasingly international societal environment and the implausibility of having a simplified standard for human behaviour. In all these learning activities, a particular emphasis is placed on real-life situations, encouraging and inspiring students to think about the learning and implications from the perspectives of their and other people’s daily lives so they will be better equipped to face multiple cultures in the future.
Students were actively engaged in learning, debates and open discussions embedded in real-life scenarios with aims of developing a holistic view of human behaviour across cultures and embedding diversity and equality in daily thinking. Some discussion was focused on future solutions of global challenges while respecting diverse social values and norms. Going beyond and complementing the teaching materials, the students provided real-life experiences to theoretical discussion and demonstrated excellent understanding of research and critical application of theoretical thinking to real-life issues.
“Cultural psychology has teaching dedicated to learning about the rule of law and our justice system. This has truly opened my eyes to the experiences of others and how they are unfairly treated. The wider context of this is so important and we need to ensure we are doing more in our justice system and society, so despite characteristics like ethnicity, cultural background and class, everyone is treated the same.”
“I think SDG 3 is very important, especially in cultural psychology, because it opened our eyes to mental health issues or even physical health issues that are only experienced in specific cultures. This topic is especially important as it reminds us that we are all different and we should always keep an open mind with other people, as we never know what they might be struggling with or how they might be interpreting our communication. We live in a more culturally diverse world more than ever and this unit is essential for future psychologists to get the most out of their careers in my opinion.”
Xun He (unit leader), Bernhard Angele, Chloe Skipper, Eleonora Vagnoni, Jacqui Taylor, Rachel Skinner, Sarah Hodge were winners of the Excellence in Education for Sustainable Development Award 2021.
MSc Green Economy
Professor Adrian Newton, Dr Elena Cantarello, Dr Rick Stafford and Dr Kathy Hodder teach on the MSc Green Economy programme, a distance learning course designed to teach exclusively about sustainable development and how it can be achieved. Students learn about a range of topics including carbon management, renewable energy, biodiversity and social justice. All 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals are embedded into the curriculum. Critical thinking is at the heart of the programme but students also develop problem solving skills, comprehension of scientific information and data and professional skills through a work-based placement. Students are encouraged to analyse, interpret and evaluate data and research in order to debate global issues.
Design & Engineering
Dr Ben Thomas has been running sustainable designs-based masters units since 2007, including a unit on Life Cycle Management.This is focused on sustainable product design and uses a practical product dismantling exercise and specific software skills to support learning. The students are asked to dismantle a household product (e.g. toaster, kettle) to see how it has been made, the materials used, and how this affects the recyclability of the product. They then use the Life Cycle Analysis software CES to measure the Carbon Footprint of the product during all stages of its life. This model is then used as a base to reduce the environmental impact of the product, closely informed by lecture materials and design philosophies such as Cradle to Cradle, zero waste, and factor 4. The unit covers a number of UN SDG’s including SDG9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG11 Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG12 Responsible Consumption and Production.
The unit and methodology prove very successful with excellent student feedback and work. With increased student numbers the unit has been delivered twice this AY with both September and January starts with a total 57 students, the largest numbers to date. The outputs have been very good with innovative redesign ideas proposed including greater use of recycled and bioplastics, a focus on the re-use and repair of the product, user interface redesign to reduce inefficient user behaviour, novel alternative mechanisms and power sources proposed, waste management systems to move closer to a cradle to cradle approach, and the use of creative design to strengthen the relationship between the user and the product with the aim of increasing product life and reducing waste. The use of CES software allows the students to quickly identify and quantify the impact of all aspects of the product, including highlighting materials and components with high impact to allow them to prioritise their redesigns. By using software to measure the full impact of the product sustainable design concepts are brought from the abstract, conceptual, idealised theories of academia into practical design decisions that can be applied to everyday household products and show significant reductions in environmental impact. The use of a physical product as the redesign basis helps to engage the students with the complexities and benefits of implementing sustainable design concepts, and the transferable Life Cycle Analysis software skills allow the students to quantify the impact of these throughout their future careers. The vast majority of a products environmental impact is decided at the design stage so it is crucial to equip the next generation of product designers with the skills and knowledge to take account of this if we are to build a truly sustainable future.
Kathy Hodder, Rick Stafford and Paul Kneller lead the Wildlife Protection course which is designed to raise awareness of the interconnectedness of human wellbeing and biodiversity, covering wicked problems of extreme poverty in biodiverse parts of the world and the challenges facing good governance and concluding with inspirational examples of conservationists who have changed the world, such as Wangari Maathai, whose green belt movement epitomises successful application of SDGs.
Students engage well with the complexities of this unit. In 2020-21 the team introduced an online field trip to Madagascar. The students were able to interact with staff from Ranomafana National Park and gain both ecological and cultural insights that wouldn't be possible without that interaction.
ESD underpins everything that we do in some way. Students will engage if we have engaging ways of illustrating the relevance for the topic. For instance, in this unit, many students initially have a fortress mentality wanting to protect wildlife at all costs and so it is rewarding to work with them on the need to consider the human element too.
Faculty of Media & Communications
Film production & BAFTA's albert
Annie East, has been working with albert consortium, the sustainable arm of BAFTA, to ensure students are trained in applied skills for a sustainable media industry. Annie and Bafta albert pushed forward with the concept of creating a partnership of radical collaboration from other higher education institutions to enable students on media programmes to have the best opportunity to engage with concepts and practice around sustainable development in media practice. As a result 2018 saw Bournemouth University being one of the founding partners of albert in Education Partnership along with Salford University, National Film and Television School, Learning On Screen, Confetti Institute at Nottingham University, Sheffield Hallam University, Glasgow Caledonian University.
Expanding with new partners all the time, the vision of the albert in education partnership is to: provide the education community, staff and graduates, with the opportunity to learn about environmentally responsible working practices and its professional relevance to help contribute towards the transformation of the film and television industry.
The partnership has created teaching resources and has rolled out albert certified teaching and learning materials that will be available to Bournemouth University and all partners. Working with educationalists and media practitioners, the materials are designed to allow educators the agency to deliver those resources using traditional lecture/seminar approach or through a flipped classroom approach. This flexibility provides opportunities for students across the HE sector to graduate from albert certified course units into an industry where they can continue to champion and lead on sustainable media initiatives. This academic year, over 100 students were trained in sustainable film production.
Elsewhere in the Media Production Department, Principle Lecturer, James Fair has been working with La Temps Presse, a French film festival, who launch BA Film’s Film Language assessment; a short film with no dialogue that relates to one of the 17 UN Sustainable Practice goals. This global agenda, externally validated, really challenges the students with a real-world task from the moment they arrive in university. This fulfils the vision of inspiring our staff and students to enrich the world.
Relationship Marketing (EESD Award Winner 2020)
Ethics have been at the heart of Fiona's teaching for many years, including in Relationship Marketing which brings a future-facing outlook to organisations’ practice of marketing. Fiona saw an opportunity to encourage her students, returning from placement, to place sustainability at the heart of their education and ultimately to inform their practice as graduates. Her delivery addressed the UNSDGs, their link to ethical Relationship Marketing and examples of how the SDGs are being communicated including the Togetherband strategy. Fiona foregrounded SDG12 Responsible Consumption & Production but encouraged students to consider additional SDGs which might relate to their chosen context.
Surprisingly just two students had worked with the goals on their placement; the majority of the 94-strong cohort entered their final year unaware of the SDGs. Yet in this unit, 90% of students placed sustainability at the heart of their assessment and it was clear that a far higher proportion of students than in previous years chose to focus on ethical/sustainable practices within their assessment. Over 50 students chose to answer the SDG-focused exam question and the standard of response was good and a number of RM students chose to focus their dissertation on sustainability, many valuing the opportunity to learn about the SDGs and their implications for Relationship Marketing practice.
"Prior to the RM unit I honestly had no idea on what the UNSDGs were, I am so glad we covered this as now I am so aware of what they are and how to use them within my work and daily life. I have also noticed how other units have slowed intertwined them, however not as much as you did. I’m glad this was a core part of the unit as sustainability and our environment is so important and I’m glad now I have a clear understanding on them."
Student feedback on Fiona's unit
Fiona was a winner of our Excellence in Education for Sustainable Development Award 2020.
Community and Digital Engagement (EESD Award Winner 2020)
The main assessment of Stacy Wall's final year option for BA Communications students had students working in pairs to identify an issue, cause or problem affecting the local community organisation or charity. Students were tasked with developing a Portfolio of Community and Digital Engagement (including a 2-3 minute multi-media piece) to target the issue specific to their selected organisation. Regional organisations were recruited for the student collaborations, working closely with Bournemouth University Social Enterprise Forum (BUSEF) to find partners that had both the passion and resources to develop opportunities for student digital engagement projects. The unit assessment was framed by outlining the connection of each of the projects to UN Sustainable Development Goals. This year six of the UN’s SDG’s were addressed (1, 11, 13, 14, 15 & 16) through our recruited partner organisations. During the term, workshop activities were developed and guest speakers arranged, to further develop students’ knowledge of their specific organisation/issue and related SDG.
The student and organisation-focused pedagogical approach to the CDE unit lead to the successful development of nine Community Digital Engagement Portfolios. The culmination of student work was featured during a Community Showcase Event at the end of the term. Participating organisations were all invited to the event where students presented their digital interventions and three minute multi-media videos to local organisations during their scheduled ten-minute presentations. Students co-created the brief for the project and developed digital engagement interventions that aimed to improve engagement with their target community members. The Community Showcase revealed the impact of student projects on both the local community and the students themselves. The highly emotive presentations delivered by students were all well received by organisation key members. Student digital interventions have been featured on organisational websites and social media platforms. Multimedia videos have also been featured on websites, social media platforms, and student LinkedIn posts. Additionally, student developed videos have been featured at local events and conferences which have been met with a positive reception and accolades shared with BU’s External Community Engagement Manager. Each student team was connected with a reliable organisational contact, academic and professional resources, a team of dedicated colleagues with a range of expertise, and a tutor who believed that they could make a difference. Each student at the end of the unit thanked Stacy for the unique opportunity the unit provided to make a difference in the local community. Many students continue to volunteer with their partner organisations – they continue to make an impact on society by finding ways to help organisations better engage with their target community.
Stacy was a winner of our Excellence in Education for Sustainable Development Award 2020.
To meet our responsibilities to the industry in which they aspire to work as well as to the world in which they will live, Rutherford's comprehensive redesign of the MA Advertising programme is a response to three important trends:
- The demand by consumers that brands and organisations make meaningful changes to address our world’s urgent social and environmental challenges,
- The demand by brands and agencies for graduates who are able to design strategies and materials that respond creatively and effectively to these challenges, and
- The demand by university applicants for courses that prepare them for careers in which they can ‘make a difference’. The redesigned programme presents and contextualises the theories, knowledge(s) and skills necessary for a successful career in advertising as a means to change the attitudes and behaviours which now threaten our mental, social and natural environment.
Advertisers acknowledge our role in promoting unthinking consumerism, the results of which now threaten our mental and natural environment. Just as advertising practitioners use expertise to lead and encourage audiences to ‘imagine’ the benefit(s) to be had by buying a product or using its services, by engaging with the UN SDGs, the redesigned programme encourages aspiring practitioners to ‘re-image’ how advertising can be used to challenge – and to change – the attitudes and behaviours which now threaten our social and natural environment. Therefore, in addition to the knowledge and skills to use advertising to address urgent social and environmental challenges, the programme also provides students with the ability to articulate – and advocate for – strategies which better serve both the public good and the client’s long term success.
“As valuable as advertising is economically, it is perhaps more valuable in persuading people to act in new ways for the greater good - sustainability is in many ways a marketing challenge. Rutherford’s revised programme is refreshingly bold and exactly right.”
Rory Sutherland – Vice Chairman, Ogilvy
“This is a programme designed for an age of purpose. It reflects the ‘now’ in marketing – agile and contemporary. I think this programme will be an inspiration to others. Well done.”
Dr Chris Arnold – Creative Partner & Founder and author of ‘Ethical Marketing & The New Consumer’
Rutherford was a finalist in our Excellence in Education for Sustainable Development Award 2020.
Global Current Affairs (EESD Award Winner 2021)
Sustainability is one of the two core themes running across the learning, teaching and assessment of Dr Roman Gerodimos's Level 5 unit, which is shared across 3 Undergraduate programmes. The curriculum covers a range of SDG-related topics including food and water, poverty, the environment, and the global institutions such as the UN with case studies from all over the world.
The second assignment is a Reflective Mind Map in which students select those elements of each week’s multimedia content that they found most important or interesting, identify key challenges facing sustainability, demonstrate linkages and interdependence between global current affairs and areas of the world, and to identify individuals driving global change in the world today – structuring all this content visually on a large mind map. Students gave high praise for the unit and many excelled in the assignment
This was the first year that I designed and used this assignment and it has been a great success. Students loved it because it gave them space and creative freedom to raise sustainability-related issues that they feel passionate about, but also to reflect on what they’ve learned from each week of teaching, and to do that visually. The assignment design was also praised by the second-marker, by my PREP reviewers, and by the external examiner. Many students excelled in this assignment, clearly putting a lot of work in selecting and curating content, reflecting on their own learning and highlighting global interdependence through specific examples across weeks of teaching, as well as visually designing some fantastic mind maps that could easily be published in leading journalism outlets. Marking this assignment has been one of the most rewarding pedagogic experiences in recent years.
Roman further shares his advice for fellow academics trying to embed ESD:
Over the years I’ve found that theory or conceptual models only work best through specific real-world examples, case studies and applications, and in our attempt to encourage students to engage with theory – which is basically accumulated knowledge – we sometimes forget the importance of students engaging with local context: basic facts about the history, geography, personalities, politics and international relations affecting an issue or region. So I think that starting with a specific event, incident, case study or real-world incident and then using that as an entry point into deeper conceptual or theoretical discussions can be much more effective. I also think that visual assignments (infographics, mind and concept maps, photo essays – all of which I’ve used in this unit in the past) are really great ways of linking the global to the local, but also encouraging students to engage with ‘big’ issues in tangible ways.
Roman was a winner in our Excellence in Education for Sustainable Development Award 2021.