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.
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.
Progress on Responsible Futures is reported to the University's Environmental Steering Group on a quarterly basis by the Chair of the group, Chris Ribchester.
"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 the Responsible Futures Working Group, Chris Ribchester at firstname.lastname@example.org or Suzy Stevenson at email@example.com.
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 Suzy Stevenson.
Take a look at the UN Sustainable Development Goals to learn about the issues and see how you can help.
Support and Training for Staff
Sessions to support academic staff to integrate education for sustainable development (ESD) into their curriculum is provided through the following ways:
- The ESD Network - available for any staff member to join. More information on the network is provided below.
- The annual Festival of Learning which celebrates and showcases best academic practices and includes a theme based on education for sustainable development
- The Academic Professional Apprenticeship (APA) now includes a section on education for sustainable development
The Education for Sustainable Development Network (ESD Network)
The ESD network is focused on learning, teaching and the student experience. Its primary goal is the promotion and sharing of practice about how sustainable development topics, themes and debate can be included in the HE curriculum, across all academic disciplines.
The work of the group is framed partly by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and how we might support our learners to develop the sustainability literacy necessary to address these wide-ranging targets in their personal and professional lives. This aligns strongly with the University’s Strategic Framework in terms of ‘Being a force for positive impact’ and ‘Moulding the next generation of game changers’.
What opportunities does it provide?
- Learn about different approaches that can be taken to facilitate ESD
- Consider the relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals to your teaching and discipline
- Share your practice, ideas and challenges, and learn from the experiences of others in the group
- Make inter-disciplinary connections and encourage cross-disciplinary teaching
- Learn about the events and resources available to support ESD both inside and outside the University
- Explore individual and collective pedagogic research opportunities related to ESD, and explore how we can evaluate the impact of our ESD practice
- Learn more about student perspectives related to sustainability
- Inform the future development of University initiatives related to ESD
How does it work?
The group is currently operating as a virtual network via an MS Teams group. This is being used as the platform for presentations, meetings, and the sharing of resources and information. Recordings of all sessions are available via the MS Teams site.
To join or for more information please contact Chris Ribchester, Pedagogic Lead for ESD (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our Living Lab project engages students in research that helps the University and local businesses to be more sustainable. Current Living Lab projects include:
- The Hedgehog Friendly Campus Group. A group of students are working with the Grounds Team and Estates to make the campus more habitable for hedgehogs and other species. Their work is directly contributing to the University's biodiversity action plans
- Education students are practising their forest school skills, by planting trees and building insect hotels to improve biodiversity on the University's campus
- Students have carried out a feasibility study for the provision of electric vehicle charging points on campus
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 email@example.com.
Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS)
The URSS is a prime example of the University supporting research projects for sustainable development. All second-year students have the opportunity to take part in this funded project. This year the URSS has a focus on research related to sustainability and all the project proposals need to align to one or more of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
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.
Featured PhD student - Daniel Komsoon is at the Muni Lagoon, Winneba, Ghana, researching the impacts of climate change on a coastal community. Daniel is studying how local people, reliant on coastal resources, are responding to ongoing environmental and climate change and using that information to develop adaptation strategies. These strategies will enable communities to deal with the changes to their environment and associated livelihoods. This research is being carried out through the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre in the School of Environmental Sciences.
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.
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.