Responsible Futures at the University of Chester


The National Union of Students (NUS) has selected Chester Students’ Union and the University of Chester to be one of 13 Higher Education institutions to take part in the Responsible Futures pilot programme. The NUS (2015) believes that “Providing the skills, experience and knowledge for our emerging low-carbon economy is a key priority for education in the 21st century.” Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a key objective within the University's Sustainability Strategy,Sustainability Vision 2020, and sits within the Curriculum theme. 

Initiative Details

As a result of the Responsible Futures accreditation we established a Climate Change Special Interest group to network and collaborate on research and teaching of sustainability.

We have adopted the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Education for sustainable development guidance (2014, p. 5) definition, which defines it as “the process of equipping students with the knowledge and understanding, skills and attributes needed to work and live in a way that safeguards environmental, social and economic wellbeing, both in the present and for future generations.”


At the University of Chester, ESD is related to the

  • Curriculum (developing skills in responsible management, ethical consideration, and sustainable development).
  • Campus (carbon management, key sustainability impacts, and sustainable food).
  • Community (workers’ rights, ethical investments, and partnerships).
  • Cultures (auditing of systems, human resource management for sustainability, empowering staff, and student engagement).


Chester Students’ Union strongly believe that embedding ESD within the curriculum is the most important contribution that universities can make to progress towards a sustainable future, as well as preparing students for life and employment as sustainability becomes an increasingly important aspect of both.


Chester Students’ Union is working together with the University to begin the journey of integrating sustainability into the curriculum. We have established our Sustainable Innovation Lab (working group) for Responsible Futures, which is chaired by Karen Willis, Dean of Academic Quality and Enhancement. To understand where we are starting from, we will be looking at a sample of programmes, for indicators of what may be included in the documented curriculum, and to stimulate discussion around sustainability and its integration into the curriculum.


If you already include content and themes relating to Education for Sustainable Development in your teaching, please share with us. Send us examples of how you are incorporating ESD through coursework assignments, research projects, departmental events and extra-curricular activities. We would really appreciate your input, which will also help us to build a picture of what activity is already happening across the University. If you would like to get involved or discuss the initiative further, please contact or 

As part of the final year module Sustainable Futures in the Department of Geography and International Development, two student groups carried out a research project to explore student attitudes towards sustainability in the curriculum. Copies of their reports can be downloaded below. 

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