Embed sustainability education in every programme

Embed sustainability education in every programme

All students should be taught about sustainability, as described in the SDGs. This should include, at a minimum, teaching on the basis and effects of climate change and on biodiversity loss. Other SDGs could be dependent on the programme being studied


A university is not an NGO. Even if I was teaching politics or government or geography, I would want to write my own syllabus, rather than adopt an intergovernmental agenda. When it comes to disciplines like maths or physics, it is hard enough to teach the core material - there is no sustainability angle to group theory or combinatorics. It is in our interests as scientists to keep a distance between 'is' and 'ought'. Otherwise we just become a mouthpiece for politicians.

the point about core skills is crucial and we can't allow those to be diluted. This shouldn't preclude students from learning about sustainability though e.g. through a module that shows how the core disciplines can be used to understand or contribute to solutions to these global challenges. It should be noted that the SDGs are really just acting as a container for sets of socially and environmentally important issues and can be seen as politically agnostic in that sense

Caveat: I don't think the SDGs are right for this. Understanding the world students live in now and will join after their degree is fundamental. Every single subject exists in the same world. Every syllabus is affected by bias, (colonial) history, prioritisation of some types of knowledge. Bias, prejudice, leads to injustice, exploitation, extractivism, and the climate crisis - in short, unsustainability. All students deserve to know about this and how their education fits in to this world.

I think students learning more about sustainability would be valuable. I also agree that core skills need to be promoted. On that point, criticality is another core skill - so if students were encouraged to adopt a critical stance they could recognise the benefits and drawbacks from any perspective - whether that's from the UN, or otherwise.

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