< back

ESD Curriculum Mapping from Planning to Implementation - Strathclyde's Journey


June 26, 2024

No items found.

On 30th April, the University of Strathclyde and Strath Union delivered the second of two Responsible Futures host partnership webinars taking place in the 2023/24 academic year. The session focused on Strathclyde’s ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ curriculum mapping work – from planning to implementation. 

The session began with an interactive exercise, asking c.50 participants to share where they are on their ESD journey, specifically looking at:

  • Getting strategic buy-in to mainstreaming ESD
  • Raising awareness of ESD and developing staff training
  • Monitoring quality and progress of ESD mainstreaming

Around 56% of participants said they were actively making progress on getting strategic buy-in, 48% of participants said they have made some progress on raising awareness and developing staff training and in terms of curriculum mapping 45% of participants said they are actively making progress on monitoring quality and progress of ESD.

University of Strathclyde's and Strath Union webinar on their journey on ESD Curriculum Mapping

Strathclyde's Journey

The University and Students’ Union Responsible Futures lead contacts went into detail about their work and progress on their ESD journey. Tracy Morse, Professor of Environmental Health and Head of Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of Strathclyde, explained how the University’s involvement in and commitment to a number of sustainability initiatives, including Responsible Futures, supports strategic buy-in for mainstreaming ESD.

The University’s 2020-2025 strategy prioritised sustainability and is used to help mainstream sustainability and ESD in teaching and learning. The University has set out to:

  • Engage - engaging staff and students on understanding the SDGs, ESD pedagogies and approaches.
  • Plan - departments to create working groups and outline timelines.
  • Recognition - analyse current pedagogical approaches taught at the institution and align it with accreditations.
  • Finally look at Opportunities - ideas and plans to be developed with employers, students and staff

Dr Eirini Gallou, a teaching fellow for the Centre of Sustainable Development at the University of Strathclyde, then spoke about how the University and Students’ Union support staff and student learning for ESD as part of their work to mainstream ESD across all learning.

For example, through the sustainability skills survey, the University and Students' Union found that students prefer learning about, and for sustainability through case studies and problem-based learning approaches. These findings fed into online ESD learning modules, training and micro CPD sessions for staff on ESD.

Strath Union have supported students to develop understanding around sustainability by creating and promoting sustainability-focused activities through events, fayres and hosting a sustainability month at the Students’ Union. Some students were involved in the Management Development Programme Internship which involved supporting with different sustainability projects, developing social media communications, helping to establish and run the climate assembly and discussing topics during the Sustainable Development podcast from a student perspective.

Dr Scott Strachan, a Senior Teaching Fellow in Electronic and Electrical Engineering and Co-director of VIP4SD at the University of Strathclyde, introduced how the University supports academic staff to map ESD in their curriculum, using examples of best practice and highlighting opportunities to update and review their teaching and learning content through the mapping process.

Webinar slide about mapping and monitoring ESD at the University of Strathclyde

The mapping tool is framed around content, competencies and pedagogies, asking educators:

  • Is there any coverage of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in your modules?
  • What UNESCO competencies linked to sustainable development, have you included that you encourage students to apply and develop in your modules?
  • What teaching and learning methods do you use, to support students to develop those competencies when engaging with the SDGs in your modules?

The tool generates data that shows the percentage of ESD skills and competencies embedded within a specific module, what percentage of SDGs are being covered and the types of teaching and learning methods used within the module. By using the ESD mapping tool, the University can identify gaps in modules to make improvements to student learning and monitor progress.

Group Discussion on ESD

The session ended with a facilitated discussion on the three steps of the University’s ESD mapping journey – and how it can look at other institutions, including opportunities and challenges. The following topics revealed:

Strategic buy-in for ESD:

  • The importance of having student voice and engagement, and bringing them to the table.
  • Understanding the value of having a good relationship between the Students’ Union and the institution.
  • Making language accessible in order to engage with students.
  • The complexity of governance issues, how to manage and navigate governance systems and how to effectively use it to your advantage.
  • Viewing sustainability as one whole system, a broad umbrella term for other related topics like ESD, decolonisation etc.

Raising awareness and developing staff training:

  • Having sustainability leads in departments to help with training, and sharing knowledge for example carbon literacy, promoting existing training.
  • How to manage/balance staff time and engagement with training and work.
  • How to motivate staff to engage with the training and understanding students needs(SOS-UK survey).
  • Feedback and reflection – how to measure staff engagement, how to get staff to engage, how often etc.
  • Using ESD competencies as training material and how can staff use them to build around the training.

Mapping and monitoring ESD:

  • Institutions are in different stages of mapping their ESD work. There are concerns around credibility when capturing the data and additional responsibility on staff to contribute to mapping.
  • Mapping should be more than a tick box exercise. The messaging is important about using curriculum mapping methodologies, and how mapping can be used as a quality assurance mechanism to help identify good practice.
  • Timing of a curriculum mapping project – rolling it out with key performance indicators, strategic commitments, and action plans, might result in better engagement and accurate data to come out of it. Above all, curriculum mapping can help mainstream ESD in a meaningful way.

Thank you to the University of Strathclyde and Strath Union for facilitating the webinar and sharing good practice, and for everyone who joined and participated.

Responsible Futures is a supported change programme delivered by SOS-UK, partnering universities and colleges with students to embed sustainability in all student learning.

To learn more about Responsible Futures and how to get involved, please visit our website.