Development and delivery of a Sustainable Development unit in UK universities: A Higher Education’s guide for future sustainability leaders

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


In 2016, the University of Bristol launched its institution-wide, interdisciplinary Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) initiative. Bristol Futures (BF) is formed of two parts: a free online course available to university students and the public, and an optional, credit bearing unit available to all undergraduate students. This initiative encourages learners to understand the role that everyday behaviours have in creating and mitigating global environmental challenges. This paper profiles the Sustainable Futures (SF) pathway of this initiative, which offers innovative education to students to illuminate the role of their core discipline in solving sustainable development challenges. In doing so, it encourages them to become engaged citizens and agents in both understanding and addressing the challenges that humanity faces, whilst giving them a broad educational experience which, in turn, enhances their future employability. By adopting a challenge-based, post-disciplinary approach to global challenges and therefore ESD,
and the combination of a range of learning and teaching methods including multimedia platforms, blended learning and flipped classrooms, we put forward Bristol’s model of teaching ESD in the Anthropocene. This work demonstrates the fusion of these key characteristics that has allowed for the Bristol Futures curriculum to enhance student learning and provide interdisciplinary
engagement with complex challenges in a way that forms Sustainable Development leaders of the future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUniversities, Sustainability and Society
Subtitle of host publicationSupporting the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals
EditorsWalter Leal Filho, Amanda Lange Salvia, Luciana Brandli, Ulisses M Azeiteiro, Rudi Pretorius
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-63399-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-63398-1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameWorld Sustainability Series
ISSN (Print)2199-7373
ISSN (Electronic)2199-7381

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021.


  • education
  • sustainable development
  • curriculum
  • global challenges
  • blended learning


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