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Education for Sustainable Development

Addressing social, environmental and economic concerns to create a better world.

Learning & Teaching Podcast Now Available - Episode 031: Learning & Teaching Conference

Education for Sustainable Development

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) can be understood as “a lens that permits us to look critically at how the world is and to envision how it might be and equips us to deliver that vision” (QAA, 2021). ESD encourages colleagues, across all academic disciplines and subject areas, to think holistically about how learning content and outcomes, pedagogy and the learning environments can equip learners with key competencies to create and pursue futures taking in to account social, cultural, economic and environmental impact of their decisions and actions (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO, 2019).

ESD helps colleagues to consider how subject-specific learning outcomes might interconnect with the ESD competencies, the UN SDG’s and sustainable development more broadly. 

  • Sustainable Development - an aspirational ongoing process of addressing social, environmental and economic concerns to create a better world.  
  • Education for Sustainable Development - the process of creating curriculum structures and subject-relevant content to support sustainable development. (QAA, 2021).


Sustainable education at Newcastle University

Newcastle University is committed to equipping our students to be socially responsible, future focused, globally and culturally aware individuals. Many programmes across the University already prompt our students to consider critically the global challenges that we face and reflect on how we can achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. This achieved through programme content, learning environments and approaches to teaching and assessment.

We want our students to be global citizens and recognise where the biosciences fit within current ecological, economical and societal issues, and how they have a role to play in finding solutions.

Sara Marsham, Senior Lecturer, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Winning the challenge personally has made me want to do more towards social causes (i.e. volunteering) and the UN SDGs and it is something I want to continue doing in the future.

Tharika Gunasekaran (NUBS) – First Prize Winner in the SDG challenge

It is extremely important to me that Newcastle University continue to implement initiatives that better their ecological footprint. Knowing I may have an impact on wider university life and its environmental footprint is incredibly rewarding.

Maia Ellis (Politics) – Third Prize Winner in the SDG challenge

I enjoyed the topic of SDG targets. I think it’s a very relevant topic at the moment and was really interesting to learn about.

Stage 1 Biology, Zoology and Marine student