Responsible futures embeds sustainability through

all aspects

of teaching and learning, working in


with students at universities around the world.

The programme was created in 2014 and developed with the pilot cohort of 13 UK universities and colleges. Since then, the framework has supported 48 institutions in the UK and globally to integrate sustainability through the formal, informal and subliminal curriculum.

The community developed through the programme provides space for sharing good practice, discussing live issues and challenges, and collaborating to shape and lead the further and higher education sector in the globally.

Frequently asked questions:

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What are some tangible outcomes from the programme to date?

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We have worked with 41 institutions in the UK and 7 globally reaching nearly 1,100,000 students taking over 3000 actions in to embed sustainability in teaching and learning. These have resulted in a range of outcomes, including:

  • Increased buy-in and support from senior leadership to drive this work forward
  • Increased capacity and resourcing for developing curricula with sustainability as a golden thread
  • Developing a stronger relationship between university/college and SU
  • Increased whole-institution approach for sustainability
  • More student leadership for sustainability
  • Innovative pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning (e.g. interdisciplinary experiences for students, graduate attributes include sustainability etc.)
  • Increased connectivity and collaboration between institutions in the UK and globally

We have delivered nearly 50 student-led audits with over 200 student auditors and counting. Feedback from student auditors describe the experience as ““immersive,” “uplifting” and “eye-opening.”

We are now delighted to deliver a Responsible Futures international pilot in partnership with the International Association of Universities with plans to deliver the programme more widely in October 2024.

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Is there a cost to participate?

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Both the UK and International programme ask institutions to pay an annual membership cost to cover SOS and IAU staff time delivering the programme.

For 2024/25, we have developed a tiered approach to membership costs to:

• Ensure the programme is accessible to institutions with varying resources and capacities
• To address global power dynamics in our mission to create a sustainable and just education system and world
• Cover delivery costs (We are a charity and completely not for profit)

Please see the 2024/25 programme overview for more information on membership costs (page 22).

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What are the prerequisites to participating in Responsible Futures?

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• A desire to develop a whole-institution approach to embedding holistic sustainability and climate justice across the curriculum;

• A commitment to allow adequate staff time to lead on Responsible Futures;

• A willingness to work through a close collaborative partnership between the students and the institution;

• A commitment to promote and support the monitoring and evaluation of the project;

• A commitment to send at least one representative from each partnership to attend up network events, including cohort catch up calls and support afternoons.

• A willingness to actively engage with and support other members of the cohort.

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How can I get my institution involved in Responsible Futures international?

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The Responsible Futures international pilot launched in October 2023. 6 universities across the globe are involved in piloting the programme at their institution in partnership with students. Throughout the year, we'll work with the universities to shape the programme, capture feedback and evaluate impact. The wider programme will launch in October 2024.

If you're interested in learning how your institution get involved in 2024, please email

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How can Responsible Futures help to drive institutional change?

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The programme legitimises Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in teaching and learning: The RF framework was agreed upon by a number of sector bodies, pilot universities and colleges and the accreditation is recognised by P&P and the Times Higher Education Impact rankings and signposted in a number of high level education resources.

The programme provides a toolkit of criteria of good practice with which we ask partnerships to engage – these aren’t prescriptive criteria, but guidance. The criteria cover a range of areas – including policy and commitments, strategy, interventions, baselines and benchmarks that support change from top down, middle out and bottom up. Through engaging with the framework, a broad range of university staff and students work in partnership, facilitating the whole-institution approach for institutional change.

Progress is an important factor to the programme.  Opportunities to reflect on change and outcomes are embedded into the framework and support to ensure long lasting, meaningful change.

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How might students and the institution work together, taking into account capacity, workload and other existing commitments?

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Part of the framework involved embedding Responsible Futures into working groups, either existing or new, to lead on work related to the programme. This ensures capacity is shared amongst a group of people across the institution and isn't progressed by just one or two individuals.

The programme supports you to create a SMART action plan using the framework to take stock of what you’re already doing, what you want to do now and in the future, as well as who can look into an area of work you’d like to progress.

In terms of working with students, Responsible Futures advocates for equitable partnership. The way the programme is designed recognises differing capacities amongst students, student leadership groups and the institution, and encourages meaningful partnership amid capacity and workload differences.

Participating institutions have work with a range of different student groups on Responsible Futures, including:

Student interns
Student volunteers
Student societies
Elected student officers/representatives
Placement students
Scholarship students
Course representatives

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How might Responsible Futures link with sustainability work already in existence?

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Responsible Futures provides a focus for already existing sustainability work, and mechanisms for student/staff involvement. Responsible Futures acts an approach and way of working that breaks down silos and brings together different areas of work under one cohesive framework. Many partnerships use Responsible Futures to both take stock of what is already happening and to plan ahead.

Get in touch

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Meet the team

Hilligje van't Land

Hilligje is the Secretary General of the International Association of Universities.

Isabel Toman

Isabel is the Programme Officer for Sustainable Development at the International Association of Universities (IAU), based in Paris at UNESCO. Isabel manages the Responsible Futures international programme in partnership with Students Organising for Sustainability.

Kedijah Eaves-O'Connor

Kedijah is a Project Manager - Education at Students Organising for Sustainability. Kedijah acts as lead contact for participating institutions, helping them to engage with the programme and the framework through bespoke support and network learning.

Meg Harris

Meg works as the IAU Communications and Media Officer. She delivers communications for the Responsible Futures international pilot.

Quinn Runkle

Quinn is the Director of Education at Students Organising for Sustainability. Quinn leads on SOS-UK's education work.

Rachel Drayson

Rachel is the Head of Impact and Research at Students Organising for Sustainability. Rachel leads on monitoring and evaluating the programmes impacts and outcomes.

Rajneet Bharaj

Rajneet is a Project Coordinator at Students Organising for Sustainability. Rajneet coordinates the communications and administration for Responsible Futures.

Sonya Peres

Sonya is a Senior Project Manager - Education at Students Organising for Sustainability. Sonya manages a range of education programmes including Responsible Futures.

The programme

Responsible Futures International presents a unique engagement opportunity for universities and colleges to put strategy into action, network and find synergies in their existing or emerging work for sustainable development.

Download programme overview

We are looking forward to the Responsible Futures international pilot and the collaboration across campuses, faculties and departments on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This will really bring a sense of unity to our work and bring our university closer together as we work towards this

important initiative


Erica Clother-Joseph

President of the UWI Indies Global Campus STAT Corp, The University of the West Indies

Who we work with

2023-24 Responsible Futures International pilot universities and students

Queen's University
Murdoch University
University of the West Indies
Women's University in Africa
Mykolas Romeris University
Trinity College Dublin
Mohawk College
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See 2014-24 impact report