Vice-Chancellor announces sustainability education across all courses in response to climate emergency

climate rally

At the climate rally held to mark the global climate strike on Friday 20 September, President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Koen Lamberts told colleagues and students that the University is committed to embedding Education for Sustainable Development into the curriculum of every course over the next five years.

In a speech, he said: “As a large research university, we are in a truly unique and powerful position to help tackle climate change and make a positive impact on the world we live in.

"We do research that really makes a contribution. Hundreds of our academics and students work on a huge range of highly relevant topics – from energy technology, sustainable food production, atmospheric chemistry to policy and behaviour change – to give just a few examples.

"Our research in these areas makes a real difference, and more and more researchers at the University are discovering the relevance of their work for solving the problem we face.

“Another important way in which we can help – in which we have to help - is by educating the next generation - the students we stand with now and the young people who will be most affected by the impact of climate change in the years to come.

“That’s why I am announcing today that we will be embedding Education for Sustainable Development into the curriculum of every course we offer at our University. Whether our students go on to become doctors, engineers, scientists, economists or historians, we want them to be equipped with the knowledge, skills, values and attributes they need to work and live in a sustainable way.

“We want them to make an impact and find solutions to the environmental, economic and social challenges that we face. Sheffield students can be the change makers for a sustainable future and we are committed to providing them with the education they need to make the world a better place."

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) originated as a United Nations programme that encourages changes in knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to enable a more sustainable and just society for all. It encourages a holistic approach to sustainability knowledge that goes beyond ‘being green’.

We will work in partnership with the Students’ Union to shape how we embed Education for Sustainable Development in all subject areas.

Our students can be the change makers for a sustainable future and we are committed to providing them with the education they need to make the world a better place.

Professor Koen lamberts

This announcement reflects our commitment to sustainability, outlined in our Sustainability Strategy, and the desire of students to learn more about environmental issues and how they can improve practices in their lives and future workplaces.

Professor Lamberts also said that we are developing an action plan to become carbon neutral. He said: "Our aim is to become one of the most sustainable research intensive universities in the country. We know there is still a lot of work to do, particularly on emissions, but we are committed to taking a science-led approach in developing an action plan for becoming carbon neutral. We will be setting this out in our new five-year Sustainability Strategy, which we look forward to sharing with you later this year."

We have already been taking positive action to make our campus and operations more sustainable. For example, we have cut our emissions by over 30 per cent since 2005 and are on track to meet our 43 per cent reduction target by 2020. Earlier this year, we completed our divestment from fossil fuel companies, which means we no longer hold any shares in any companies engaged in fossil fuel extraction or processing. Our transport fleet is now over 30 per cent electric and we will be continuing to introduce new electric vehicles as new models become available. We are also continuing to invest in our campus to ensure that walking and cycling are the most attractive options when travelling to and around the University.


Education for Sustainable Development

Brendan Stone, Deputy Vice-President for Education and Harry Carling, Students’ Union Development Officer provide an update on Education for Sustainable Development following the Vice-Chancellor's announcement at the climate rally.

Read update