Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Education for Sustainable Development can be thought of as a process of learning how to make decisions that consider the long term-future of the economy, ecology and equity of all communities. Building the capacity for such a future orientated action is a key task of education (UNESCO 2014).

ESD in the Curriculum

Ulster University has an ongoing commitment to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).  The vast majority of our courses already include ESD related issues aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and we want to encourage more staff to consider how this global imperative can be developed and more explicitly embedded in the curriculum.

To be most effective, ESD requires active and enquiry-based teaching and learning methods that motivate and inspire learners to modify their behavior and take action for sustainable development. Accordingly ESD promotes and affords our students the opportunity to experience teaching approaches that promote `exploration, innovation, entrepreneurship, critical thinking and problem solving` (L&T Strategy 2018-24).

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The SDGs were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and intended to be achieved by the year 2030. They represent an ambitious plan to enhance peace and prosperity, eradicate poverty and protect the planet. They are recognised globally as essential to the future sustainability of our world (IOS, 2019)

The goals are broad and interdependent, yet each have a separate list of targets to achieve. The SDGs cover a range of social, economic and environmental issues including poverty, education, global warming and social justice. Further  information

NUS Global Goals Teach In, Feb 2020

In February 2020, Ulster University will once again participate in the 3rd Annual ‘NUS Sustainable Development Goals Teach In’.

The initiative is designed to raise awareness among our students and staff about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and why they should be at the centre of education to motivate the next generation of change agents to take action to achieve a better and more sustainable future for everyone. Further details

ESD Case Studies at Ulster

Embedding Sustainability into the curriculum within the Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management
Sustainability Matters: Developing a sustainable future for Textile Art, Design and Fashion at Ulster
Increasing Students' Awareness of Contemporary Consumer Issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainability in the Built Environment

If you wish to contribute to the list of case studies, please contact Dr Amanda Platt (

Sustainability at Ulster University

With over 25,000 students and approximately 2,000 staff, the University’s day to day activities have a considerable impact on the environment. The Sustainability website sets out the University’s strategic approach to managing its environmental impact and details the key initiatives both planned and in place to improve environmental performance.

The sustainability office can be contacted via

Key Contacts

Dr Amanda Platt, Lecturer in Higher Education Practice, CHERP

Marie-Louise Gaile, Sustainability Manager, Engineering Services