Welcome to April’s issue of Teaching Matters: Embedding sustainability in the curriculum

Photo credit: veeterzy, Unsplash CC0

Welcome to the April issue: Embedding sustainability in the curriculum 

As the world as we know is shifting every day due to the current pandemic, this monthly theme presents itself at an opportune time. With signs that slowing human activity might be giving the environment some momentary respite, reflections on how to embed sustainability in the curriculum seem particularly inspiring and timely.

For this month’s series, we reached out to staff and students who are involved with the work of embedding sustainability in the curriculum. ‘Embedding’ not only means teaching about sustainability but it also implies that the issues of sustainability can guide how we teach. It is an intersectional concern that informs the way we can instil knowledge and build awareness on the way human activity impacts the natural world, no matter what discipline is being studied or taught.

In spite of these turbulent times, we received multiple fascinating posts for this month’s theme, and we are grateful for the contributors’ time and participation in this important, ongoing conversation.

a few examples of this month’s upcoming posts:

  • Dr Sarah Ivory, Director of the Centre for Business, Climate Change, and Sustainability and a recipient of the prestigious Aspen Institute Ideas Worth Teaching Award, will open this month’s series with an engaging post that breaks down what ‘sustainability’ really means and how to approach it in the classroom…
  • Abbi Whitfield, a former Masters student in Environmental Protection and Management, will share her story of refusing to participate in one of her course’s mandatory field trips for environmental reasons, shedding light on the cognitive dissonance that sometimes surrounds the relationship between course design and environmental commitment.
  • We will also hear from Gavin McLachlan, the university’s Vice-Principal and Chief Information Officer, who will tell us about the university’s newly revamped  sustainability IT policy, illustrating how sustainability is far more than a ‘topic’ but a position that affects all levels of organisation in our university community.
  • And many more!

Previous Teaching Matters posts on embedding sustainability in the curriculum that you may find interesting are:

We also encourage you to listen to two previous podcast episodes on teaching about climate change:

As always, we aim for the Teaching Matters blog to be a platform for on-going conversation so please feel free to comment on posts, email us if you wish to write a post for the blog, or just to drop us a line: teachingmatter@ed.ac.uk.

Considering the accelerated change the world is currently undergoing, thoughts and ideas are always welcomed especially as we all seek to unravel the potential lessons to take away from this situation and how to incorporate them in future teaching and learning outcomes. Therefore, we are particularly welcoming contributions from colleagues with tips, reflections, suggestions, and sharing of practice around remote teaching, and alternative assessment methods. These will be published in our new Spotlight on Remote Teaching and Spotlight on Alternative Assessment Methods series, endorsed by Professor Colm Harmon.

Happy reading…!

Joséphine Foucher

Joséphine is doing a PhD in Sociology at The University of Edinburgh. Her research looks at the intersection between art and politics. She works with Jenny Scoles as the Teaching Matters Deputy Editor and Student Engagement Officer.

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