Research and teaching

Our environment

We nurture excellence in research and teaching and recognise the strong link between the two. All our research brings benefit back to our teaching and many areas of our research have an environmental element. These include climate change, sustainability in engineering and systems, how connecting with nature benefits wellbeing, and the impact of tourism.

Responsible Futures

We aim to put sustainability at the heart of education. The University of Derby and the Derby Union of Students are working together to gain accreditation to the Responsible Futures scheme run by the National Union of Students (NUS). Our aim is to embed social responsibility and sustainability throughout our students' journey by working both formally and informally to increase their awareness of sustainability. 

The Responsible Futures scheme isn't just about doing the recycling properly - it's about giving our students the skills and experience they need to thrive as global citizens. The NUS has a list of criteria - mandatory and optional - which provides a framework for the scheme. The NUS trains our students to audit our work on Responsible Futures.  

"We need an education system which creates graduates who meet the challenges of the century ahead, not repeat the mistakes of the century behind us. We want all graduates to have the knowledge and understanding, skills and attributes needed to contribute positively to social responsibility and sustainability." NUS Responsible Futures

If you are a member of staff or a college team interested in including or increasing the amount of education for sustainable development within your programmes or modules, please contact your member of the Responsible Futures Working Group, Rosemary Horry at or Joel Klaff at

If you are a student interested in increasing your knowledge and experience of sustainability or you are interested in working on an environmental project which could link to an assignment, please contact Rosemary Horry at 

Take a look at the UN Sustainable Development Goals to learn about the issues and see how you can help. 

Living Lab

Our Living Lab project engages students in research that helps the University and local businesses to be more sustainable. Students' past projects include:

Academics or students with projects they would like to work on and University staff with environmental or sustainability initiatives where academic input would make a difference can contact Rosemary Horry at

Environmental Sustainability Research Centre

The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) provides students, academics, government agencies, industry and business with exciting opportunities to contribute to urgent global challenges in climate change and sustainable development. One such piece of research was conducted by Michael Sweet, Lecturer in Invertebrate Biology at the University of Derby. He found that, in order to save coral reefs and fisheries, scientists must improve their collaborations in small island states.

Nature Connectedness Research Group

The Nature Connectedness Research Group aims to understand people's connection to nature and create everyday interventions in order to improve connectedness, bringing about the associated benefits in wellbeing and conservation behaviour. 

Mapping the Good Things

We have developed a wellbeing app that prompts users to notice, rate and photograph their surroundings and map the good things in and around Derby - helping to create better urban spaces in the city.

Find out about the Good Things Derby appFind out about the Good Things Derby app

Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering

The Institute works with SMEs to help provide cutting-edge solutions for the challenges faced. Professor Paul Stewart is leading this group at the University of Derby as the Energy and Environment Research Chair.

Centre for Business Improvement

Our research in Sustainable Business and the Green Economy within the Centre for Business Improvement reflects our commitment to sustainability and the increasing importance of the low-carbon sector to the local, regional and national economies. We conduct practical and applied research to help organisations progress with green or low-carbon innovation. 

Centre for Supply Chain Improvement

The research in the Centre for Supply Chain Improvement has three broad areas of focus: technology innovation, system improvement and process re-engineering. The centre's sustainability work includes Green Lean, Sustainable, Green and Circular Operations and Supply Chains.  

Visitor Economy Research Group

A group of researchers who conduct research into the impacts of tourism, which includes work on sustainability.

Derby Law School

Our academics have been working with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), which is part of the Home Office, to tackle human trafficking and modern slavery. Our researchers based in Derby Law School are also undertaking a number of projects focused on the legal issues of sustainability, including bioethics and food technology.