To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Exploring the current position of ESD in UK higher education institutions

Evelien S. Fiselier (Faculty of Environment and Technology, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
James W.S. Longhurst (Faculty of Environment and Technology, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
Georgina K. Gough (Faculty of Environment and Technology, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 5 February 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to consider the position of education for sustainable development in the UK Higher Education (HE) sector with respect to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and Higher Education Academy (HEA) Guidance for education for sustainable development (ESD).

Design/methodology/approach

By means of a mixed-method approach underpinned by a concurrent triangulation design strategy, this research presents evidence from an online questionnaire survey and in-depth semi-structured interviews.

Findings

Insights are presented from case studies of a group of UK Higher Education Institute (HEIs) which have made significant progress in embedding ESD in the curricula.

Research limitations/implications

Central to this study is an exploration of the ESD integration process of this group including a description of the approaches to integration, the challenges faced and overcome and the critical success factors. It examines the role of a guidance instrument in simplifying and accelerating the ESD curricular integration process. The results of the study show that there is a multitude of integration approaches applied varying in their emphasis.

Practical implications

The main challenge HEIs face is engaging staff that may question the relevance of the ESD concept, and that lack an understanding regarding its implications for their discipline. Critical success factors identified are institution-wide people support, high-level institutional support and funding. The QAA and HEA guidance has successfully supported HEIs in developing their ESD commitments.

Originality/value

The results of this research can support HEIs in developing their own approach to ESD, as they learn from similar UK HE providers, particularly with respect to overcoming barriers and enhancing critical success factors to ESD curricular integration.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The research approach has been reviewed by UWE’s Faculty Research Ethics Committee and approval to proceed granted under reference UWE REC REF No: FET.16.02.027 dated 21 April 2016.

Citation

Fiselier, E.S., Longhurst, J.W.S. and Gough, G.K. (2018), "Exploring the current position of ESD in UK higher education institutions", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 393-412. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-06-2017-0084

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited