Measuring Education for Sustainable Development: experiences from the University of Bristol

Chris J Willmore, Hannah M Tweddell, Ash E P Tierney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to explore how ESD was measured in the taught curriculum at the University of Bristol providing comparison to other methods of measurement and how measurements were used to engage academics in considering the visibility of the penetration of sustainable development into their teaching. The process of designing a quantitative and comparative method of reviewing ESD utilising a reflective process is considered. The research finds that text based methods of assessing ESD penetration into programmes of study have limited use as direct measures of sustainability visibility in programmes, but can be improved by using interpretative methodologies. The combination of qualititative and quantative methodologies can produce data which is a useful catalyst for academic reflection. Most importantly it provides a tool for initial faculty engagement while also enabling the targeting of resources and support. ESD provision assessments in current use have serious shortcomings. The work suggests how to avoid the pitfalls of manipulatable text count methods, and shown quantative with qualitative comparative methods can be combined effectively with real engagement with academics and students for a measurement method that showcase and builds on good practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-522
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

An electronic version will be available earlier from the publisher and copies are available from the authors


  • sustainability
  • higher education
  • education for sustainable development
  • Metrics

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