Sustainable development goals competiton highlights great teaching practise

Supporting our academic staff in incorporating the principles of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship into the curriculum is an important part of our sustainable objectives at BU.

This year to highlight some of the good teaching practise CEL ran a competition which asked lecturers to give examples of where they incorporate the UN Sustainable Development Goals into their teaching.

After reviewing the entries three excellent examples were chosen as winners. The winners Annie East, James Fair and Melanie Klinkner all provided great examples of how they had been incorporating the messages of the UN goals into their teaching.


Each of winners received £75 to give to a local charity.

On receiving her award Annie, who teaches Film and TV, said she was very pleased to win the award for sustainability. Having been given the challenge a few years back of teaching about sustainable filmmaking, something she acknowledges was outside her “usual teaching expertise”, Annie said that she was glad to have been able to build this into her practise.

Annie has incorporated the sustainable development goals into two modules and also organised sustainable literacy training for staff in the media faculty led by BBC and BAFTA Sustainability Advisor Jeremy Mathieu.

James incorporated the goals into the BA Film Language unit (Level 4) assessment. The students were presented with a rubric that demonstrated that their 3-minute films would be awarded the highest marks if their film successfully embedded an environmental subtext. The students were largely left to interpret and engage with this guidance themselves. They took part in a mind-mapping exercise to help them come up with ideas.

The students then worked in groups to research sustainability, and considered how they could embed such themes into a story with a visual narrative. We adopted a flipped classroom approach where the students would gain formative feedback while presenting their ideas to seminar groups, before producing the project. An external environmental filmmaker helped to assess the film.

Melanie said,  “The final year option unit on the LLB Law degree called ‘Advanced Criminal Law’ is concerned with UN Development Goal Peace, Justice and Institutions (16), since it concentrates on justice mechanisms and international criminal as well as transitional justice institutions. In discussing types of gross human rights violations, the importance of UN Development Goals regarding Inequalities (10) and Gender violence (5) comes to the fore.

During a role play session, students learnt that the cause and root of conflict, and therefore the achievement of UN Development Goal 16, can only be realised through addressing other key priorities including general inequality or access to resources (such as water) but also the need for good education, something that goes hand in hand with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”.

The university has recently signed up to the online Sustainability Literacy Test; Sulitest. The Sulitest, which takes roughly an hour to complete, could be taken in classroom or at home. If you would like to find out more about the test or organise a test yourself please email

Make sure you look out for next year’s ESD competition.

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