The University of Sheffield’s new sustainable development course is due to hit lecture theatres in the next five years.
The compulsory course, which was created in response to the climate emergency, “encourages a holistic approach to sustainability knowledge that goes beyond ‘being green’”, says the University.
The initiative will mean that classes on sustainable development will be embedded in every degree programme. Sheffield has also outlined that they plan to work with its Students’ Union and course reps to make sure that the series of lectures can be easily embedded into the structure of each degree.
Professor Lamberts of Sheffield University said: “We are embedding education for sustainable development into the curriculum of every single course. There is a reason for doing this: whether our students go on to become engineers, doctors, linguists or historians, it doesn’t matter. We want every single one of them to be equipped with the education, the knowledge, the skills, the values and the attributes that they need to work and live in a sustainable way.”
The programme called ‘Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)’ originated as a United Nations initiative. It gives participants the chance to learn about the changes they can make to their lives, attitudes, and values to create a more sustainable society.
A spokesperson for Sheffield said: “The University is committed to helping tackle the global challenges we face, including many aspects of sustainable development.
“Our new sustainability strategy and action plan, being published later this year, will include new guidance on University flights, including helping staff to consider whether they need to fly and encouraging other travel options.”
Despite its radical initiative, Sheffield is not the only university seen to be taking steps to highlight the issue of climate change. In August, Goldsmiths announced that beef has been banned from their cafeterias in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint.
SU Activities and Development Officer Lizzy Haughton, who has been campaigning on the issue at UoM for over a year, states: “Embedding sustainability into the curriculum is so important if we are to tackle climate breakdown efficiently, intelligently, and with creativity.”
She mentions that even though sustainability may not be everyone’s favourite subject, we will have to learn about it one way or another: “We need everyone on board this time, we have a matter of years left to change things, and people are currently dying across the world in the Global South because of our criminal inaction.
“It’s high time Universities took a stand in changing that, and get their students educated on this issue. Once we know the full facts about climate breakdown, we can choose to make a change for the better, or we can choose to ignore it and be complicit in catastrophic changes across the world.”