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De Monfort University and De Monfort SU Case Study - ESD and Academic Quality

Case Study

June 29, 2023

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ESD and Academic Quality

Related Responsible Futures Criteria: POC006, OU002

Overview of initiative/action

DMU and DSU have taken part in Responsible Futures since 2017, achieving accreditation in 2019, 2021 and 2023. The peer-learning aspect has been great value in developing our approaches to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). We built upon this in 2021/22 with a successful proposal to lead a Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Collaborative Enhancement Project, “ESD and Academic Quality”, partnering with SOS-UK and ten other UK universities, mostly drawn from our Responsible Futures cohort. “ESD and Academic Quality” is aiming to produce guidance for universities and student unions on how student voice and course approval/review/enhancement processes can meaningfully address the sustainable development agenda – focussing in more depth on specific processes that build on the ethos put forward in the QAA/Advance HE guidance on ESD. We aim to share our results in June 2023 via the QAA.

Impact of initiative

The QAA project has provided a valuable peer-learning opportunity on one specific aspect of ESD, building on the collaborative spirit and peer-learning already embedded successfully within responsible futures. The staff and SU representatives taking part have greatly appreciated the supportive, collegiate and reflective learning environment provided by our monthly meetings. The project, like Responsible Futures, has also catalysed action within the participating institutions – offering permission and backing from a national initiative to work with colleagues in our own institutions to pilot or enhance processes. In many cases this has involved engaging with course reps to set up processes for them to feed back on how sustainability is addressed in course design, or to add prompts or resources to support academic staff to consider how sustainability is addressed for programme accreditations. This will ultimately benefit students and society by their taught courses engaging with societal challenges such as inequalities, climate justice and sustainable use of resources.

Role that RF criteria/programme has played in this initiative

Responsible Futures set the stage for the project through establishing a collegiate network of staff across universities to work together and by ensuring that consideration of students’ experiences and views is at the heart of our activities.

The Responsible Futures Criteria:

  • POC006 – The Partnership has made effective use of the relevant quality framework and/our outcome agreements to progress issues related to Responsible Futures.
  • OU002 – Within the last two years, the Partnership has proactively engaged one or more students’ union or educational institution on issues related to Responsible Futures.

Additional Comments

This case study focuses on one aspect of our work with RF – more widely, the accreditation criteria have given DMU and DSU an excellent set of ingredients to make tangible progress and the student-led audits every two years consistently provide excellent feedback to set the strategic direction for development of our work on ESD. We would recommend Responsible Futures to all universities at any stage in their journey on ESD.

The ESD and Academic Quality project is a Collaborative Enhancement Project supported and funded by QAA Membership. The project is led by De Montfort University in partnership with Cardiff University, Coventry University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Students Organising for Sustainability (UK), University of Bath, University of Derby, University of Exeter, University of Leicester, University of Strathclyde, University of Winchester, University of Worcester. Find out more about Collaborative Enhancement Projects on the QAA website.