Category: Curriculum

Are Students Learning enough about Sustainable Development (SDGs)?

Are students learning about sustainability in the curriculum at University? Using a benchmarking tool we looked at how much your University has embedded the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We also looked at our participation in the annual SDG Teach In. Written by Heather Barrett & Katy Boom. Edited by Rosie Bramwell. The SDGs are a collection of 17 goals to… Read more →

Pin-point icon on Worcestershire shown on a UK map, with the text "The current situation" within the pin-point.

Post-Covid impacts on sustainability awareness and behaviours highlighted in student and staff surveys

In 2023 the surveys with students and staff were repeated. Response rates were very low for students n=281 and n=380 for staff. The extremely low student response rate may be a post-Covid symptom. Sustainability awareness and behaviours amongst staff and students have changed in 2023 compared to previous years. With 87% of students declaring they are very or somewhat committed… Read more →

Global Sustainability Test – Student Results

Additional material Estela Castelli Florino Pilz Projects and Community Management at Sulitest The University of Worcester has already more than proven its commitment to building a sustainable future with its many community and environmental projects leading to the acquisition of several awards. As Sustainability Institution of the Year in 2019 with a High Commendation in the International Green Gown Awards… Read more →

Image of a person thinking, with the title "How can we improve climate education in Worcestershire schools" being thought about.

How Can We Improve Climate Education in Worcestershire Schools?

How Can We Improve Climate Education written by Teaching Greener members, Logan Frandsen, Caleb Powell, Noah Mester and Ethan Knight. Edited by Megan Asbury and Joe Toft. Illustrations by Joe Toft. Improving climate education Teaching Greener’s goal was to report on the implementation status of the climate education curriculum in Worcestershire from the perspective of secondary school faculties. To achieve… Read more →


From Waste Fabrics to a Sustainable Cup Cosy: Student Naomi Explains Her Product!

Naomi, a student from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, was briefed with making something new from the waste fabrics of a furniture company. Her innovative idea for a cup cosy kit has been very well received, so Digital Creative Assistant, Francesca, recently interviewed Naomi about the process and product! Check it out below!   How does your university course… Read more →

Measuring Sustainable Development Research in a University

International frameworks and the UK Research Councils highlight the need for Sustainable Development Research  to inform policy making, science and technology, yet indicators to measure this activity in universities are only slowly emerging. Kingston University’s first attempt to establish a practical methodology for an Sustainable Development Research indicators based on a highly replicable desk-based study. Visiting students from Worcester Polytechnic… Read more →

A snapshot of sustainability at the University of Worcester

On the 28th June 2018, photography student Martha Dunning from the University of the West of England (UWE) visited the sustainability department at the University of Worcester as part of a project documenting office life. The following account outlines her findings and reflections. During my visit to the University of Worcester I had the opportunity of meeting Katy Boom, Director… Read more →

Sustainable Education Sector Report 2017

University and College leaders recognise sustainability as priority but fail to deliver Sustainable Education sector report 2017 from the National Union of Students (NUS), Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), University and College Union (UCU), Association of Colleges (AoC) and the College Development Network (CDN). The research shows 1 in 3 respondents reported sustainability as a strategic priority for… Read more →

Citizens needs key competencies to meet SDG’s

There is a new discourse emerging within the education and learning for sustainability community, which argues that citizens need to have certain key competencies that allow them to engage constructively and responsibly with an increasingly complex and unsustainable world. As one recent authorative UNESCO report suggests; ”competencies describe the specific attributes individuals need for action and self-organization in various complex… Read more →

US-UK Fulbright Exchange on Sustainability

Thinking about sustainability in a place where settled human activity has continued for millennia brings new perspectives.  Seeing how places such as pubs and cathedrals carry on human patterns of activity alongside innovative university/town partnerships such as The Hive has been inspiring.  I’m also seeing new meaning in “Keep Calm and Carry On” as a helpful motto for continuing to… Read more →

Embedding sustainability in the nursing curriculum


Professor Janet Richardson

Professor Janet Richardson, Professor of Health Service, Research Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, Plymouth University

Introducing sustainability concepts to undergraduate nursing and healthcare students

At Plymouth University we wanted to embed sustainability in the nursing curriculum in a way that made it relevant to practice. Our project aimed to introduce sustainability concepts to undergraduate nursing and healthcare students, and to increase awareness and encourage discussion. We recognised that implementing sustainability practices in healthcare requires a multi-professional approach so we worked with our Design colleagues to involve Product Design students in learning opportunities.

So often issues about climate change and sustainability can seem rather theoretical and remote; often the problems feel so much bigger than any individual so we become paralysed and unable to act. In healthcare we have significant challenges that relate to how we manage resources and how we can ensure we have sustainable supply chains for the things we use every day. Changes in climate, natural disasters and geopolitical events can impact on the availability of healthcare resources and our ability to deliver healthcare. The course we have devised demonstrates this to students through identifying and discussing the sustainability issues which may directly affect them as health care practitioners.

We have used our research in health and sustainability to develop scenario-based sessions for nursing and healthcare students that link evidence to practice. Students engage fully in the sessions, and the involvement of design students adds a new dimension to discussions and possible solutions.

Following these scenario-based sessions the students are asked to complete an attitudes and knowledge questionnaire which have been used to evaluate both student learning and the value of the course. Our findings are summarised below:

Change in attitudes

There has been a demonstrable change in attitudes towards sustainability and climate change and including these topics in the curriculum where student nurses participate in these sessions. Comments suggest the sessions are interesting and relevant to practice:

Really has made me question what to throw away where, and not to use equipment that is not needed. Made me think what I can do to help a problem fast approaching of lack of materials (student nurse).

Change in knowledge

A comparison of student nurses found better knowledge of waste management in those who had participated in the sustainability skills session compared with students who did not participate.

Interdisciplinary learning

Students have benefited from interdisciplinary learning: This gave us a better understanding of the problem.

I can imagine this being a real life situation (Design Student)

This was thought provoking.

Liked the low-high impact workshop, made me think with in relation to practice (Student Nurse).

Sustainability products

Product Design students we were able to implement an ‘empathic design process’. This involved observation of users and user environments to stimulate insights; idea generation, development and prototyping in 3D; collaborative discussion with users to evaluate and then refine concept propositions.


We have seen the benefits of academics from different disciplines working together. For example health academics have been learning about product development, Intellectual Property issues and Commercialisation

The team was shortlisted for a Plymouth University Vice-Chancellor’s Enterprise Award in recognition of the project in 2013, and we won the Green Gown Award 2014 for Courses and Learning.

We have been able to create further opportunities for students, such as via the development of a prototype e-version of the sustainability and healthcare scenario skills sessions. This will be developed by third year design students and tested by second and third year student nurses. The intention is to make this e-version more widely available to educators, nurses and other healthcare practitioners.


The course will undoubtedly provide inspiration to other Universities across the UK and internationally. It’s also wonderful that it’s stimulated further off-shoot projects. I think one big question other institutions will be asking is from a resource perspective who was involved and what were their roles?

Well, initially we had members of our Sustainability, Society and Health research group working with academic colleagues who teach the child health students. We very quickly involved colleagues in 3 D Design who teach product design; at Plymouth the design courses are underpinned by sustainable design principles. We now teach the sustainability scenarios to students across the nursing curriculum and run some sessions with other healthcare professional students.


The initial challenge was to convince colleagues that sustainability is relevant to the nursing curriculum, and we achieved this by running the scenario with our academic colleagues. The challenge now is to continue to develop new scenarios that are contemporary and evidence-based. In terms of advice to others, I would encourage them to make sure that the sustainability scenarios they use are practical, relevant and evidence-based, and that they are designed to focus participants on discussion.

The susthingsout editorial team would like to thank Professor Janet Richardson for providing this article.



Further details about the project can be found at:
Sustainability, Society and Health Research

Or you can follow the project: twitter @SSHRPlymUni and @NurSus_EU

Professor Richardson’s work can be found in the following journals:

Richardson J., Grose J., Gill JL., Hertel J., Jackson B., Sadeghian H., Kelsey J. (2014). Effect of climate change and resource scarcity on health care. Nursing Standard 28(45):44-49

Manzi, S., Nichols, A. & Richardson, J. (2014). A non-participant observational study of health and social care waste disposal behaviour in the South West of England. Journal of Health Services Research & Policy

Richardson J., Grose J., Doman M., Kelsey J. (2104) The use of evidence-informed sustainability scenarios in the nursing curriculum: development and evaluation of teaching methods. Nurse Education Today. 34:490-93

Grose J., Richardson J. (2013) Strategies to identify future shortages due to interruptions in the healthcare procurement supply chain: a method from the English National Health Service. Journal of Health Service Research Policy and Practice.



Sustainable design: Lea &Perrins’ desire to evolve their iconic Worcestershire Sauce packaging was driven largely by the Heinz CSC.

Sustainable design techniques look to lessen materials uses, to re-use them and to use materials more effectively – to name but some aspects. These traits have now been adopted in various genres that use materials and design – such as architecture, 3D product design and our own study area of sustainable packaging design. As with many other genres, we now… Read more →


Sustainable packaging

Example of a student sustainable packaging project for Lea and Perrins as part of Green Design course taught by Andy Stevenson. “We are frequently faced with new materials, new tools, new clients and new audiences to reach… For most designers, green issues are just another set of new challenges. The possibilities are exciting, but it won’t be easy for any… Read more →