Case studies

Find out what lecturers across ARU are doing to embed sustainability into their courses.

You can also read these case studies from three of our University's sustainability champions, or watch this short video to hear from staff directly.

Including sustainability as a 'golden thread' in the Social Work curriculum 

As part of ARU's Social Work curriculum redesign, sustainability is being embedded as a 'golden thread' across all modules in the undergraduate course. Discussions with Social Work course leaders have focused on how issues such as fuel poverty and environmental degradation often have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable members of society.

The new curriculum will enable student social workers to understand the role they play in empowering people to gain greater awareness of their environments and where changes are possible. The new social work curriculum will be launched in September 2020.  

Including environmental law in the Law curriculum  

The Education for Sustainability team, in partnership with the Law Society and Anglia Law School, organised a series of expert-led environmental law seminars open to both students and lecturers in 2018. Speakers included lawyers from Richard Buxton law firm, a senior civil servant from DEFRA, and the Director of the Waikato Public Law and Policy Research Unit.

As a result, Environmental Law has now been included as a dissertation module in the undergraduate Law course, and will be incorporated into the Master's Law course. An interview with one of the students who helped lead this work can be read here

Arts and Environmental and Sustainability Education module

In September 2017, Dr Nicola Walshe, BA Primary Education Studies Course leader worked with the EfS team to organise a one-day conference designed to engage students in Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE).

Following highly positive feedback from all attendees, Nicola and the EfS team designed a new arts based ESE module for all third year students, which has been part of the curriculum since September 2018. Dr Walshe recently received funding from AHRC to conduct further research into the links between art, well-being, and Environmental and Sustainability Education.

Sustainability Art Prize

The sustainability art prize is a long-standing collaboration between the Global Sustainability Institute and Cambridge School of Art, in which students from the art school submit artworks in any format (print, illustration, digital etc) that illustrate the complex and multi-faceted issue of sustainability.

Student engagement with the prize remains consistently strong, and the winning pieces are frequently featured in local and regional news, including this article in The Guardian.

MSc Sustainability

Our MSc in Sustainability is a pioneering course that integrates digital technologies, immersive residential trips, and six-week practical placements to create a unique blended learning experience. The course is run in partnership with the Eden Project, based in Cornwall, where students spend three weeks engaging with local sustainability challenges. Visit the Eden Project web page for student testimonials and further information.

The course was first designed in 2013-14 with the intention that students would 'learn about' sustainability, 'experience' sustainability, and 'practice' sustainability.

Conservation Coasters

Conservation Coasters was a competition run by the GSI and the Biology department (now the School of Life Sciences) which was designed to raise awareness of the impacts of plastic pollution on nature.

The competition ran in 2018, and involved students submitting eye-catching coaster designs using any media (e.g. drawings, paintings or photos) to illustrate the ways that plastic is infiltrating our natural environment. The top 6 shortlisted entries were then printed as coasters and distributed to local pubs to help further raise awareness. You can find out more about the project here.

Electric Athenaeum; A New Digital Magazine Exploring Sustainability in Science Fiction

Electric Anthenaeum is a digital magazine, set up as a collaboration between staff in the MA Science Fiction and Fantasy, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, and MA English Literature. The issue's first theme, For Future Generations, was chosen specifically to raise questions and discussion of sustainability both directly (through nonfiction) and indirectly (through fiction). The magazine was accompanied by a hosted twitter chat, as well as further indirect discussions on social media platforms.

The website saw 578 unique readers, and the estimated social media reach of the pieces was in excess of 57,000 individuals to date. A student involved in the project provided this testimonial: "I began working on this project with a view to enhancing my editorial skills to aid employment; however, becoming more aware of the sustainability issues has changed certain aspects of my life. I now follow a meat-free diet after learning of the meat industry's impact on the environment".

Sustainable Biologists magazine

As part of the Level 5 Being a Biologist module, lecturer Alex Dittrich and student Juniper Kiss worked with students to put together a magazine called Sustainable Biologists. The aim of the magazine was to enhance students' communication skills, and to engage them with the topic of sustainability. You can read more about the project here.