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Redefining Sustainability in the Curriculum

Redefining sustainability, climate change and equality in the curriculum

Anne Tallontire (School of Earth and Environment), Thomas Cooper (Sustainability Service), William Young (School of Earth and Environment)

Project overview

We aim to generate an institutional understanding of sustainability, climate change and equality through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). We will draw on existing ESD knowledge and practice and the University’s established Living Lab programme to create and test materials that support student education and educator professional development.

We have adopted Advance Higher Education & Quality Assurance Agency’s definition of ESD as “the process of creating curriculum structures and subject-relevant content to support and enact sustainable development”, where sustainable development is “an aspirational ongoing process of addressing social, environmental and economic concerns to create a better world” (2021: 8).

This Fellowship accelerates activities to embed sustainability, climate change and equality in the curriculum, working with Curriculum Redefined (CR) to enable the University to achieve its aspirations with respect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and University’s Climate Plan.

Our vision for the Sustainable Curriculum is that the University of Leeds will become a leading institution for learning and teaching in sustainability and climate change, reflecting and supported by its world-leading research portfolio. We will provide our students with the knowledge and skills they need to have a positive impact in the world and to contribute solutions in our local community, and globally in an equitable and just way.

The research approach

We plan to:

  1. Identify and evaluate case studies of good practice of ESD through a scoping study followed by a cycle of action research with selected groups of staff and students. Materials and learning designs for educator development will be designed and tested in a cycle of reflection. We will be involving students centrally in this process as co-producers of education.
  2. Explore with educators and students how findings can be applied to different contexts.
  3. Develop and test materials to inform ongoing leadership and professional development activities for educators.

If you would like to find out more about the project contact Anne (, Thomas ( or William (

Each fellowship has a project sponsor that helps the fellows achieve impact across the institution. The sponsor for this fellowship is Kenny McDowell.

Project start date: July 2022