Sustainability in Learning & Teaching Seminar Series

Moving from Safe to Brave Spaces (28/11/2022)

Moving from Safe to Brave Spaces

Centre for Educational Development and Innovation - Seminar

Speaker: Cathy d’Abreu (Oxford Brookes University)

Date: 28/11/2022

Time: 12:00 -13:00 (GMT)


The sustainability education narrative in HE is finally on the move from niche to more mainstream spaces. Growing awareness of the SDGs, embedding sustainability into curricula and empowering learners are all emerging trends, as education’s pivotal role in tackling urgent global crises becomes more established (Advance HE and QAA, 2021). Whilst there are many pockets of excellent practice and innovation aimed at engaging staff and students across the university, the literature notes we still lack sufficient examples of operationalizing sustainability knowledge and competencies into the fabric of HE (Cebrian at al., 2018) in order to motivate and guide learning for more just and sustainable futures.

Drawing on a honeycomb model, a range of sustainability teaching and learning practices, ideas and tools that have surfaced through the Future Pathways ESD Project at Oxford Brookes University are presented. Taking heutagogy as central to the transformative ESD learning ethos, Future Pathways has engaged a diversity of voices, working in different domains across the university. The importance of communicating and connecting, embracing liminality and ‘moving from safe to brave spaces’(Winks, 2017) is explored through sharing some concrete, adaptable examples of what operationalizing sustainability across programmes, disciplines and levels can look like.

About the Speaker

Cathy d’Abreu is a Senior Lecturer and module lead on 'Global Issues and Culture and Communication' at Oxford Brookes University. She is also a Senior Fellow of the HEA and Chair of the Sustainability and Environmental Education charity, SEEd.

She is passionate about sustainability education and is presently leading the Future Pathways Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Project and working on embedding sustainability into all aspects of teaching and learning. She is particularly interested in the theory of change and transformative learning, and working on how we can reframe cultural narratives for a fairer, fitter future for everyone.

Supporting Documents

Seminar Slides - Moving from Safe to Brave Spaces - Cathy d'Abreu

Cathy d'Abreu - Seminar Abstract and Bio - Safe to Brave Spaces

Embedding Transformative Learning in HEIs and Adapting Quality Assurance (31/10/2022)

Embedding Transformative Learning in HEIs and Adapting Quality Assurance

Centre for Educational Development and Innovation - Seminar

Speaker: Dr. Anne Zimmermann, Centre for Development and Environment (University of Bern)

Date: 31/10/2022

Time: 12:00 -13:00 (GMT)


We know what the challenges of sustainable development are, we know that higher education has a key role to play in achieving the SDGs. But are higher education institutions (HEIs) ready to take the next steps and support efforts from the local to the global level to achieve the SDGs? What are these next steps, what do they imply? I will present some thoughts and questions developed during numerous conversations and projects with a committed and polymorphous community of practice whose central conviction is that HEIs can contribute to the SDGs, but they are not yet ready to do so. So what is it that they – we – need to do? To use Stephen Sterling’s words: beyond research and teaching about and for sustainable development, we need to consider research and learning as sustainability. This shift can occur if research and learning are practiced in specific ways. Students should leave our HEIs as sustainability agents and as future professionals capable of bringing everyone else on board for achieving the SDGs.

I’ll suggest what such a radical change of self-understanding implies for teaching and learning in HEIs. To start with, value consciousness is needed and the objectivity of science has to be reconceived. Next, transformative learning needs to become a “natural habit”, as suggested by the UNESCO’s 2021 Berlin Declaration. But we also need to change our teaching environment and skills, as well as our understanding of what “quality” means in HEIs – not only for teaching, but for institutions as whole entities embedded in society. Let’s see where the shoe really pinches and discuss how to address this!

About the Speaker

Anne B. Zimmermann has been working at the Centre for Development and Environment, Univ. of Bern, since 1999. She is Head of the Education for Sustainable Development Cluster, Assoc. Editor of the journal Mountain Research and Development (MRD), and President of the COPERNICUS Alliance. Previous responsibilities include coordination of Advancement of Women and Publications Editor in the NCCR North-South. She's been teaching scientific writing and publishing in numerous countries since 2004 and has co-led inter- and transdisciplinary summer schools of the IGS North-South. She's now doing research in Education for Sustainable Development and transformative science, supports integration of sustainable development in teaching at the Univ. of Bern, and is interested in cultural sustainability.

Supporting Documents

Seminar slides in PDF format

Mentimeter poll results - embedding transformative learning in HEIs 1

Mentimeter poll results - embedding transformative learning in HEIs 2

Seminar Abstract and Speaker Bio

Higher Education, Sustainability & the SDGs (30/05/2022)

Higher Education, Sustainability & the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)

Centre for Educational Development and Innovation - Seminar

Speaker: Dr Wendy M. Purcell PhD FRSA

Date: 30/05/2022

Time: 12:00 -13:00 (BST)


Universities per se and higher education in general are essential to catalyze and action the transformative change needed for sustainability and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability can be adopted as a driver of change within higher education institutions (HEIs), as they react and respond to influencing factors outside the academy. HEIs engagement with sustainability can also influence, effect and amplify change beyond the institution, working with and through others.

Different local and national contexts, institutional archetypes and academic missions influence the pursuit of sustainability in and by HEIs. Sustainability-led transformation may take place at the level of the institution (executive/administrative), organization, culture, place-based (anchor) and students. Exploring a manifesto for change and a call to action, the session will explore how HEIs are playing an important role in creating a world where no one is left behind, inviting universities and colleges to accelerate and scale their efforts in support of a just transition and the pursuit of sustainability.

About the Speaker

Dr Wendy Purcell is an Academic Research Scholar with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University (2016–date). Her purpose lies in transforming lives through education and research in pursuit of social equity, the knowledge economy and sustainable development. She leads research on global leadership and governance for sustainable transformation in higher education and in various business sectors. She directs Harvard’s Sustainable Development Solutions Group and is Lead Faculty of ENVR-118c Pursuing Sustainability in the Travel & Tourism Sector. Wendy is an Emeritus Professor (Biomedicine) and was President Vice-Chancellor of a UK university (2007-2015), taking it to the top 1% of world universities and number #1 ‘green’ UK university. She is a Council Member of the United Nations University, Governing Board Member European University EELISA and Member of the American Association of Universities and Colleges. Wendy has authored over 100-publications, is an academic editor and author; she is busy writing books on Sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals and the role of higher education in advancing a world where no one is left behind.

Lessons Learnt from Embedding the Sustainable Development Goals into the Curriculum (25/04/2022)

Lessons Learnt from Embedding the Sustainable Development Goals into the Curriculum

Centre for Educational Development and Innovation - Seminar

Speaker: Dr Sarah Gretton (University of Leicester)

Date: 25/04/2022

Time: 12:00 -13:00 (BST)


There are many drivers for including sustainability within the formal curriculum including data from the NUS sustainability skills survey, employability trends and the role of civic universities in educating students to tackle “wicked problems”. Much has been written about the varying approaches to embedding sustainability within the curriculum and their respective merits. This talk will present our experience of working towards this at the University of Leicester.

A grassroots group of academics at the University has been driving developments on Education for Sustainable Development for over 15 years. The group’s initial main output was to develop and deliver optional sustainability modules for sciences students, with a longer-term vision to consider how sustainability could be delivered to broader groups of students.  In 2016 the University launched a curriculum transformation project, with the sustainability included with the wider mission, with the eventual aim to embed sustainability teaching within each undergraduate programme at the University. This talk will describe the context in which this occurred, particularly focusing on how this was achieved through quality assurance processes, stakeholder engagement, training and most importantly reflections on what didn’t work as planned.

About the Speaker

Sarah Gretton is an Associate Professor and Director of  University of Leicester’s Natural Sciences programme. Sarah’s research background is in virology, where she completed her PhD at the University of Glasgow and post-doctoral research at University of Leeds. Sarah moved to the University of Leicester as Teaching Fellow in 2010 and took up the role of academic lead for Education for Sustainable Development in 2014. In 2017 she reached the final of HE Bioscience Teacher of the Year and the EUAC Green Gown Awards Sustainability Champion.  She was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2021. Her current research interests include Education for Sustainable Development, skills development and interdisciplinary science education.

Integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into Higher Education: frameworks, tools and ways forward (28/03/2022)

Integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into Higher Education: frameworks, tools and ways forward

Centre for Educational Development and Innovation - Seminar

Speaker: Vasiliki Kioupi

Date: 28/03/2022


Universities are engines of societal transformation, can nurture future citizens and leaders, and navigate them towards sustainability through their educational programmes. There is increased attention on how Higher Education (HE) can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, as well as on how Universities can engage staff and students in opportunities for on and off campus activities regarding sustainability. Times Higher Education (THE) has developed its impact rankings since 2019 to review the performance of Higher Education Institutions in relation the SDGs. There has been renewed interest since, on how HE Institutions from around the world can integrate the SDGs into their curricula and assess learning outcomes/competences for sustainability in their learners. In this talk, I will present a novel systemic framework I developed as part of my research at Imperial College London that Higher Education institutions can use to integrate the SDGs into their learning outcomes, a tool to assess the alignment of learning outcomes to sustainability and a case study on assessing students’ sustainability competences and lessons learned.

About the Speaker

Vasiliki divides her time between being a Lecturer in Science Education at the Institute of Education (IOE) of University College London (UCL) and a Research Associate at Imperial College London (ICL) in the field of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). She holds a doctoral degree in ESD from the Centre for Environmental Policy of ICL for which she received a prestigious President’s PhD Scholarship. Through her doctoral research, she worked with Universities, primary and secondary schools in the UK in the integration of sustainability and the SDGs into curricula. She is an experienced science teacher, environmental educator and was ESD coordinator and teacher trainer in a large school district in Athens Greece, where she contributed to positive community change. Vasiliki is also co-chairing the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on ESD in London, approved by the United Nations University (UNU). She is active in publishing her research in Scientific and Educational Journals and is reviewer of publications for conferences and Journals in the fields of Sustainability and Education.

Enabling All Students to Align their ‘Self Actualisation’ with the Actualisation of Sustainable Development (28/02/2022)

Enabling All Students to Align their ‘Self Actualisation’ with the Actualisation of Sustainable Development

Centre for Educational Development and Innovation - Seminar

Speaker: Arti Kumar MBA (National Teaching Fellow and independent consultant)

Date: 28/02/2022


We educators are in a powerful position to engage students in realistic curriculum approaches that enable them to see the personal relevance and importance of developing transferable skills and attributes for effective functioning in a world where we are facing complex intersecting challenges The SOAR framework (used extensively in the UK and abroad) provides key concepts and tools that address this by animating the universal and personal dynamics between Self, Opportunity, Aspirations and Results In its second edition, SOAR implicitly and explicitly aligns personal ‘self actualisation’ goals with global sustainable development goals ( This presentation will show how you can use SOAR to integrate, contextualise and personalise the development of high level behavioural competencies in diverse subject disciplines to motivate and enable all learners to realise their potential and congruently create a world where social justice and environmental justice are two sides of the same coin.

Arti Kumar is a National Teaching Fellow and an independent higher education and employability consultant, author, trainer and
mentor. She is the former Associate Director of the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at the University of Bedfordshire, UK, and has won many awards, including an MBE ‘for services to higher education’ and an AGCAS Lifetime Achievement Award. She is an active member of Lifewide Learning for Sustainable Regenerative Futures. The ‘SOARing to Success’ pedagogy Arti has developed andauthored is extensively used in the UK and abroad, and its
second edition explicitly shows how educators can use SOAR to motivate and enable students to align their personal and professional development goals with the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The Intellectual and Practical Alignment of Education for Sustainable Development (31/01/2022)

The intellectual and practical alignment of education for sustainable development: from a philosophy of “the university”, via admin processes to assessment specifics

Centre for Educational Development and Innovation - Seminar

Speaker: Dr Alastair Smith (University of Warwick)

Date: 31/01/2022


Education for Sustainable Development cannot be a bolt on, but must emerge from the fundamental transformation of University organisation and operation; it must extend and articulate with the long standing but limited progressive reforms of Higher Education since the 19th century. The presentation will suggest fundamental implications of the inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches required by the agenda for Sustainable Development. This will include intellectual transformations by academic educators and institutional managers, as well as practical opportunities for process and operational reform. The presentation will also offer practical pedagogical opportunities to articulate with the wider intellectual transformation at the level of course and module (re)design, as well as classroom practices, irrespective of the disciplinary home or topic focus of learning.

Dr Alastair Smith

Alastair is a transdisciplinary thinker in the pursuit of more sustainable trajectories for human development, with research contributions on why food prices are currently higher than for most of modern history (and why people don’t know), the civil legal options to improve working conditions in the HE sector, and innovation in Higher Education. Alastair connects these diverse topic interests through a focus on Education for Sustainable Development and applied action. He currently works a teaching focused academic by proud choice - fighting for parity of esteem – and is currently employed as a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Division Global Sustainable Development, School for Cross-faculty Studies, University of Warwick. A current role is to promote ESD across the University.

Climate Literacy for All! (29/11/2021)

Centre for Educational Development and Innovation - Seminar

Speakers: Dr Steve Cayzer, Miss Hannah Hogarth

Date: 29/11/2021


In this Seminar, experiences and insights were shared from staff at the University of Bath, where Climate Literacy has been included on the induction programme for all incoming students. This is part of their strategy to provide opportunities for every student to study and work on climate related issues and to develop understanding of ways to achieve net zero through individual and collective action.

With over 1000 students attending, the online sessions described ignited discussion and debate about ways in which the University as an organisation, and the individuals within it, can address climate change. All students were offered a follow-on programme, accredited by the Carbon Literacy Project. This training involved calculating individual carbon footprints, considering the impact that various actions have on carbon emissions and engaging in discussions about the global responsibility and climate justice.  

Dr Steve Cayzer and Miss Hannah Hogarth reported on some of the ways in which they delivered their programme, some of the highlights of the programme and an initial analysis of the individual and collective actions that have been pledged so far. For many students who undertook the Carbon Literacy programme, it is the start of a journey of activism that will continue throughout the time at the University and beyond. For others, it has meant meaningful changes to individual actions and a desire to work with others to make similar changes.  

The Climate Literacy Team at the University of Bath will be offering another opportunity to become carbon literate in January 2022 and will continue to look at ways to get more students involved.  They are keen to share their learning with other institutions, and to learn from others’ best practice.

The seminar was therefore highly interactive, with plenty of chance for questions and discussion. It also featured an immersive exercise, where participants experienced a flavour of the climate literacy programme as participants.

Steve Cayzer 

Steve is the Education Lead for Climate Action at the University of Bath. Steve has been at Bath for 10 years, designing and leading interdisciplinary programmes on technology management and innovation, including sustainable innovation. Prior to joining Bath, Steve spent 15 years in the IT sector in roles covering technical consultancy, machine learning research, and strategic research for Hewlett-Packard looking at the IT sector’s response to climate change. Steve initiated and led the Climate Literacy programme at the University. 

Hannah Hogarth 

Hannah is a doctoral student at the University of Bath in the Department of Education. Her research focuses on children’s relationships with non-human nature in early childhood education settings. She is currently researching with young children in an urban city forest school exploring ways in which our relations with nature unfold. She helps to deliver the Climate Literacy programme to students at the University of Bath as a way to encourage both individual and collective responses to the climate emergency.  

Crucial Actions for a Sustainable Future: What to Do Next (25/10/2021)

Centre for Educational Development and Innovation - Seminar

Speaker: Dr Debra Rowe, President U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development 

Date: 25/10/2021


The presentation will provide resources and insights into how to:  

  • educate students to be change agents for sustainable development for systemic societal change
  • increase awareness and preparation for green and sustainability careers
  • provide key items for faculty and staff professional development 
  • include key components of quality sustainability assignments and 
  • align scholarly activities with the SDGs as an emerging trend.

As President of the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, Dr. Rowe helps the business, higher education and youth sectors create a better society. She works with UNEP on Green Jobs for Youth. She co-created Sustainability Education and Economic Development, Sustainability Improves Student Learning, and the Sustainability Policy Partners Network.

Dr. Rowe also leads two national higher education networks - the Higher Education Association's Sustainability Consortium and the Disciplinary Associations’ Network for Sustainability. Debra's four decades of teaching includes Campus and Corporate Sustainability at University of Vermont, and renewable energies and psychology at Oakland Community College. 

She is the author of many publications and keynote speeches. She received numerous awards, including USDOE’s Clean Energy Education and Empowerment. Degrees: MBA, MA in Psychology, and PhD in Business from the University of Michigan; BA from Yale.


Sustainability and Intergenerational Social Equity: Higher Education as the Linchpin (27/09/2021)

Centre for Educational Development and Innovation - Seminar

Speaker: Edmund C. Stazyk, University at Albany

Date: 27/09/2021

Abstract: Recently, Stazyk, Moldavanova, and Frederickson argued that, conceptually, sustainability is a form of intergenerational social equity that both encompasses and imposes certain moral and ethical obligations on societies and communities around the world. In making this point, the authors presented and described a novel intergenerational social equity model that starts from the assumption that sustainability and social equity are deeply intertwined, inseparable ideas. Viewed in this manner, sustainability is fundamentally a form of fairness (or, conversely, injustice) that stretches across individuals, groups of individuals, and generations. If one views sustainability as a form of intergenerational social equity, our obligations to each other—both now and in the future—become somewhat clearer. Stazyk and colleagues then went on to argue that this view of sustainability also suggests investments in social and cultural institutions are, themselves, investments in sustainability and [inter-generational] fairness. They concluded by considering how organizations, particularly public organizations, can behave responsibly (i.e., sustainably). Applying this framework, Stazyk will consider how we might think about and apply the concept of sustainability in the field of higher education.

Edmund C. Stazyk is an Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, housed within the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. Professor Stazyk's research focuses on the application of organization theory and behavior to public management, public administration theory, and human resource management. His research interests include organizational and individual performance with an emphasis on employee motivation. He also conducts research on bureaucracy and organizational design, ethics, and human capital.

Professor Stazyk's work has appeared in a number of journals, including Administration & Society, the American Review of Public Administration, the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Public Administration Review, Public Administration, Public Management Review, and the Review of Public Personnel Administration. He is also a co-editor of The Handbook of American Public Administration and of the forthcoming Handbook of Research on Motivation in Public Administration.

Stazyk is a fellow of the Center for Organizational Research and Design at Arizona State University, the Local Government Workplace Initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the New York State Academy of Public Administration. He is currently the Chair of the Northeast Conference on Public Administration and sits on nine editorial boards. Before joining Rockefeller College, he was on the faculty at American University and also served as a town councilor, planning commissioner, and public service district board member in West Virginia.