ESD in Higher Education Institutions
Policy and strategy to support ESD within universities has evolved during the 21st century, as part of the wider move by HE institutions across the sector to demonstrate sustainability credentials in their corporate affairs. Their strategic commitments to ESD also reflect their core purposes and educational aims, in terms of:
- being socially responsible organisations
- acting as beacons for innovation in society
- supporting ‘lifelong’ and ‘lifewide’ learning
- engaging with the public and local communities
- responding to social needs and global issues
UE4SD found evidence of this growth of attention and increase in policy commitments to ESD in HE institutions, with varied patterns across Europe.
ESD in University Strategic Plans –
UE4SD Mapping Exercise
The diagram opposite gives an estimate of the levels of reference to ESD made in university strategies across UE4SD countries.
In the West and North, ESD has become visible in policies and strategies at several universities, although by comparison there has been less development so far in the East and South.
Source: UE4SD State of the Art Report, p.20
Universities also vary in how they approach ESD as an agenda for education and learning and the ways that they create policy to support it. The different kinds of examples found in the UE4SD inquiry include:
- Highly developed institutional ESD strategies
- ESD included in university learning and teaching policies
- ESD professional development and education support
- Specialist ESD institutes to deliver curriculum change
There were few examples overall of institutions that have put ESD on their professional development agendas and created support and guidance for staff. This is a new area of education policy and practice that brings many challenges for teaching methods, curriculum design and Professional Development.
The UE4SD project has captured a range of examples of ESD professional development from across the region in Practices, with the leading examples featured in the UE4SD Leading Practice Publication.