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Educating the next generation

ESD and Engagement

About education for sustainable development (ESD)

Sustainable development is about improving the quality of life for everyone and ensuring that we do not detract from other peoples' enjoyment of the planet, now or in the future.

ESD aims to raise awareness of sustainable development and to allow every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future. The concept of sustainable development continues to evolve and a big part of the ESD learning process is to debate and explore these new concepts as they evolve.

Through ESD students should feel empowered to engage with democratic processes and to lead change in those spheres in which they can influence better outcomes.

The key roles of ESD are:

  • Play a transformative role in society by increasing awareness of global issues and developing personal capacity for change
  • Foster the values, beliefs and behaviours that are important to a sustainable future – developing global citizens
  • Enable us to understand how our lives are linked with others throughout the world
  • Enable learners to make decisions that consider the long-term future of all communities, protecting the natural environment while ensuring social justice and economic success.

Alongside its teaching, BU is directly involved in research for sustainable development through our Centre for Ecology, Environment and Sustainability.

ESD at Bournemouth University

At BU we continue to explore new ways to inspire our staff and students to understand how knowledge of Sustainable Development is essential in helping create a just and fair society. Our Centre for Excellence in Learning (CEL) continue to lead the way in providing a framework to track progress with embedding sustainability in the curriculum and in the last year we have:

  • Offered the NUS Dissertations for Good initiative to our students to help them find sustainability project
  • Recognised examples of best sustainability educational practice in the third annual Faculty competition
  • Delivered a sustainability module as part of the PGCert programme (all staff training to become a lecturer must complete this course)
  • Delivered several lectures for BU courses with sustainability-themed modules
  • Delivered a sustainability workshop to student reps
  • Signed up to using the on-line Sulitest Sustainable Literacy Test
  • Been actively involved in the NUS Teach-In in February 2018.

Take a look at the CEL blog for more information.

Students on the MSc Green Economy course complete an assignment in which they critically evaluate the BU Carbon Management Plan and make suggestions for improvement. This assignment gives students experience of reviewing a real working document outlining environmental management in a large organisation. It also gives them an insight into the work that goes into managing our environmental impacts at BU. Read more examples of ESD at BU.

ESD staff champion

Professor Chris Shiel has championed ESD at BU for the past ten years, read more about Professor Shiel.

Get involved at BU

There are a number of opportunities for you to get involved with BU’s sustainable vision while you study or work here. You can always find out the latest news by looking at our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

Green week

Green week takes place each year at Bournemouth University and is always packed full with lots of different sustainability events for students and staff to get involved with. Last year green week included a shark egg hunt at Hengistbury Head, a film night and a sustainable buildings tour. To get involved with next year’s green week look out for information at Go Green.

Student campaigning

Previously, BU students raised the issue of banking with Barclays as part of the national campaign by People and Planet. During green week a campaign event was organised where students were encouraged to sign the national petition against Barclays support of the fracking company Third Energy. The campaign gathered a lot of support from students both at BU and nationwide and contributed to Barclays withdrawing their financing of the fracking company.

Previously student pressure also led to BU divesting from fossil fuels. Students raised and debated the issue of BU divesting from companies linked to fossil fuels following a national campaign by People and Planet. This resolution was passed and an online petition organised by students received 212 signatures. After reviewing the ethical investment policy BU chose to divest from fossil fuels.

Sustainability Action Hub

The Sustainability Action Hub is a student body organised by the Students’ Union and run by students which works to improve the environment both at BU and in the local community while also raising awareness of key issues.

The taskforce run a number of campaigns each year which all students can get involved with and also have a number of key positions for Action Leaders. You can find out more about the Sustainability Action Hub and what they’ve got planned for this year on their website.

Spot the drop

Students are also encouraged to give us feedback about both of our campuses to help us save energy and water and run them as sustainably as possible. We run a student engagement initiative called Spot the drop to help tackle the problem of wasted water from leaking toilets, urinals and taps around the site. Utilising our large student body we hope to minimise the amount of water wasted this way. Students who reported a new incident have been rewarded with a lifebottle.

Student switch off

Student Switch Off is an energy saving campaign run by the NUS which a number of our partner halls take part in. You can read more about it and the report from the last year’s campaign on our Energy, Carbon and Water page.

Green resident assistants

As of September 2018 the ResLifeBU team have had the addition of two green resident assistants to their ranks. They have been actively running sustainable and ethical events in halls as an addition to the activities programme. Some of the events so far have including student gardening opportunities, swap shops, quizzes, and more!

Green rewards

At BU we run green rewards which is a fantastic way to get our staff members involved with sustainable actions and allows us to measure the impact we are having as a community. Last year BU staff members collectively logged actions which contributed to saving 515kg of wasted disposable coffee cups and 400 tonnes of CO2 emissions, and altogether we logged 10,000 hours of exercise and 130,000 sustainably-traveled miles. We’ve even been shortlisted for an Edie Sustainability Leaders Award. If you’re a member of BU staff and would like to find out how to get involved, please email us at

How does this help BU?

BU wants actively engaged students and staff who get involved with sustainability. Our opportunities to get involved reaffirm the importance of the sustainability agenda at BU and it also helps us understand what we can do to improve. Utilising our student community is also a great way to ensure that our estate is run as environmentally efficiently as possible.