Part 1 - Orientation
User Guide to this Resource
This section outlines the purpose of the resource, clarifies the terms used in it and acknowledges the contributors.
What do we mean by Quality?
In the context of this guide, the terms Quality and Quality Systems refer to the principles and routines that underpin all forms of curriculum development and delivery in Higher Education. These terms embrace the two inter-connected aspects of quality, known as Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Enhancement (QE).
QUALITY ASSURANCE AGENCY - DEFINITIONS OF QA AND QE
Quality Assurance (QA):
“The systematic monitoring and evaluation of learning and teaching, and the processes that support them, to make sure that the standards of academic awards meet UK expectations, and that the quality of the student learning experience is being safeguarded and improved.”
Quality Enhancement (QE):
“The process of taking deliberate steps at institutional level to improve the quality of learning opportunities”
What do we mean by EfS?
We use the term Education for Sustainability (EfS) to refer to the growing movement of thinking and practice geared to changing education systems to support societies towards more sustainable ways of life. This is also known as Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) or Learning for Sustainability (LfS) – these are interchangeable terms used across different countries and education systems.
EfS involves inclusive and integrative approaches to learning and teaching, using applied, futures-oriented, critical and participatory pedagogies. It has been rising in prominence in all education sectors, connected to the international sustainable development movement and related movements for educational innovation. EfS takes the strategic view geared towards changing the principles and priorities of education, not just to alter certain courses or to set up new courses, but to influence curriculum systems at all levels.
UNESCO - DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
“Education for sustainable development (ESD) is not a particular programme or project, but is rather an umbrella for many forms of education that already exist, and new ones that remain to be created. ESD promotes efforts to rethink educational programmes and systems (both methods and contents) that currently support unsustainable societies. ESD affects all components of education: legislation, policy, finance, curriculum, instruction, learning, assessment, etc. ESD calls for lifelong learning and recognizes the fact that the educational needs of people change over their lifetime.”
“Education for Sustainable Development allows every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future... It also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners... Education for Sustainable Development consequently promotes competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way. Education for Sustainable Development requires far-reaching changes in the way education is often practised today.”
How do EfS and Quality connect?
This is an encounter between two contrasting areas of education practice and this resource explores the shared ground between them as well as the rationale for connecting EfS and Quality. It takes a ‘whole system’ view of Higher Education that covers all types of universities and cuts across all subject areas, which connects with questions about the essential purpose and future direction for the sector. This means considering current quality issues in Higher Education, the ways in which quality matters for EfS and the place of education themes in the sector.
Why connect EfS with Quality?
EfS embraces inclusive and integrative approaches to learning and teaching, including the use of applied, futures-oriented, critical and participatory pedagogies. It has been growing in prominence across the globe and in all education sectors, connected to the international sustainable development movement and to several existing fields of education thinking and practice.
EfS is geared towards change in the principles and priorities of education, aiming to support societies in responding to sustainability agendas through learning and engagement. It aims not just to alter certain courses or to set up new courses, but to influence core educational practices. This means engaging with curriculum systems at all levels, including those for developing and maintaining quality and standards.
This is an encounter between two contrasting fields of practice. To bridge these two worlds requires a ‘whole system’ view of Higher Education that covers all types of universities and very different subject areas. This is an innovative step internationally for the Higher Education sector, which connects with questions about its essential purpose and future direction.
Will this resource be useful for me?
This Guide has been developed for colleagues with various roles and interests in Higher Education:
- University leaders who want to understand the educational aims of corporate sustainability commitments
- academic managers who would like to know how EfS can work as an institution-wide education concern
- directors and leads in quality assurance roles wishing to understand how EfS relates to their work
- lecturers who currently use EfS approaches but would like to work more strategically in this area
- educational developers and learning support staff seeking to use EfS as part of quality enhancement
- course leads who are interested in how EfS can inform the future development of provision
Staff working in and across all these areas, whether or not they have prior experience of EfS, may wish to better understand how it connects with other curriculum agendas and quality issues. The Guide will also be informative for Higher Education stakeholders and partner institutions who are interested in the development of the curriculum and of graduate capabilities to deal with complex real-world challenges. It should be of interest to those working outside Higher Education, to explore how EfS can become part of mainstream quality processes across the education system.
AUTHORS AND CONTRIBUTORS:
The content was developed by Professor Daniella Tilbury and Dr Alex Ryan of the University of Gloucestershire, and the website was designed by Sean Bartlett at Innerbox.
The project leads at the four partner institutions contributed advice and material from their pilot work towards the resource: Dr John Blewitt, Pauline Ridley, Harriet Sjerps-Jones, Professor Martin Haigh.
The project team is extremely grateful for the advice provided by members of the project’s Expert Advisory Board and its ‘critical friends’ group, as well as colleagues at the Quality Assurance Agency:
Anthony McClaran, Chief Executive, Quality Assurance Agency
Dr Jayne Mitchell, Director of Development and Enhancement, Quality Assurance Agency
Dr Laura Bellingham, Assistant Director, Research, Development and Partnerships, Quality Assurance Agency
Dr Tim Burton, Assistant Director, Research, Development and Partnerships, Quality Assurance Agency
Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor, Newcastle University
Jane Davidson, Director, INSPIRE, University of Wales Trinity St David
Peter Davies, Commissioner for Sustainable Futures, Wales
Professor Nick Foskett, Vice-Chancellor, Keele University
Peaches Golding, Regional Director, Business in the Community, High Sheriff, County of City of Bristol
Virginia Isaac, Director, Alter Via Ltd
Simon Kemp, ESD Academic Lead, Higher Education Academy
David Middleton, Chief Executive, Business Council for Sustainable Development
Ms Alice Owen, Associate Director, Ove Arup & Partners Ltd
Mr Andrew Smith, Head of Estates and Sustainable Development, Higher Education Funding Council for England
Professor Tony Stevenson, Pro Vice Chancellor for Planning and Resources and Professor of Geography, Newcastle University
Professor Petra Wend, Vice-Chancellor, Queen Margaret University
Jamie Agombar, Ethical and Environmental Manager, National Union of Students Services Limited
Professor Debby Cotton, Professor of Higher Education Pedagogy, Plymouth University
Professor Simon Haslett, Dean of STEM, University of Wales
Joanna Simpson, Environmental Officer, University of Cambridge
Dr Simon Steiner, Academic Adviser, Loughborough University
Professor Stephen Sterling, Professor of Sustainability Education, Plymouth University