Higher Education Funding Council for England

Making every course a sustainable course at the University of Bristol

Wednesday 21-05-2014 - 17:00
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Students’ Green Fund is all about strengthening partnerships between students’ unions and their parent institutions, and embedding sustainability across every student’s curriculum.

At the University of Bristol the students’ union is forging new, strong links with the institution to engage academics with sustainability and promote education for sustainable development (ESD) across a wide variety of academic disciplines.

Thanks to Get Green, students will be at the heart of shaping what ESD looks like at the University of Bristol.

The Green Apple Scheme of the university recently allocated thousands of pounds of funding to academic projects promoting ESD. Quinn Runkle – project lead of Get Green – was on the assessment panel on behalf of the students’ union, helping choose the projects to be funded.

Hannah Tweddell – education for sustainable development coordinator at the University of Bristol – explained that “the aim of the Green Apple scheme is to encourage academics to think about their course and where ESD can fit within their teaching”

“We've provided them with the opportunity to have support in exciting and innovative curriculum change projects. This is great for the academics to try something new but, most importantly, it is improving students' experiences in the classroom.”

For Quinn, it was an exciting first step in bringing the students’ union into the heart of developing this area of work through Students’ Green Fund. “The range of ideas truly reflected the way in which we have encouraged ESD to become a meaningful part of every course at Bristol”, Quinn says.

Ethnography is a type of research where the researcher puts themselves in the place of the subject they’re studying. But what does this have to do with sustainability?

Dr. Sarah Winkler Reid has received funding from Green Apple for a project where her students will carry out a research project with local primary school children, with a focus on social and economic injustice, citizenship, and dignity.

Sarah tells us that the project will focus on “how we understand ourselves and our place in the world, social and cultural diversity and how we imagine the future”. Clearly, these are crucial areas of study for sustainable thinking.

For Mwenza Blell, the funding has allowed her to take an anthropology project out of the classroom, and across the city. “The crucial bit is seeing how and to what extent concepts like sustainability a part of different people's lives”, she explains.

“There's a lot of diversity in engagement with and understandings of ideas like these, and I think the students need to understand from meeting people and seeing ideas in practice"

Getting involved in Green Apple is an amazing achievement for the students’ union and their promotion of ESD will expand more and more over the year ahead.

Whether it’s making sure it’s a primary consideration of course reps, or providing bespoke training to help students take sustainability into the classroom, this a partnership which will have a hugely positive impact on curriculums at the University of Bristol, with the student voice right at the centre of the process.

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