21 practical ideas for more sustainable teaching

by | 4 Apr, 2018 | 0 comments

You don't need to reinvent your whole course to contribute to the sustainability cause. (And we promise we don't mention coffee cups or water bottles.)

#1 Bring sustainability practitioners working in your field into the classroom. “Academic literature, especially case studies, quickly dates, so use guest presenters from industry.” (Hat tip: Macquarie University’s Sustainability in the Curriculum Project).

#2 Seek out and use Open Educational Resources in your teaching when possible (and create and share your own when you spot a gap).

#3 Build sustainability into your daily use of technology with these tips from a recent Futures post.

#4 Use University initiatives, facilities, buildings and environments as resources for student learning. “Reflect critically with students on what sustainability issues the university is addressing and use campus facilities and operations as case studies, for example with respect to the university’s stance on biodiversity, travel, and food.” suggests Plymouth University.  


 The Vicki Sara Building is 6 green star certified  

#5 Join a sustainability campus tour to find out what’s around and what’s available to you.

#6 Get students involved in solving real world problems, using transdisciplinary approaches. Read Melissa Edwards and Mark Liu’s post on Creativity and Complexity for inspiration.

#7 Too much doom and gloom about the problems the planet is facing can create student fatigue and resignation, says Vanderbilt University’s Beth Conklin. Remember to include success stories when exploring sustainability topics.

#8 There are many UTS academics teaching in the field of sustainability or incorporating sustainability perspectives into their teaching. Check the list of key contacts for your faculty.

#9 Talk with your course team how sustainability fits into your course as a whole. RMIT has a workbook for embedding sustainability in the curriculum.

#10 You don’t necessarily need to have a topic called ‘Sustainability’ for students to learn about sustainability. Look for opportunities to embed sustainability issues as examples and case studies in your learning activities and assessment tasks.

#11 Check out the wealth of teaching resources available on sustainability.edu.au.

#12 Digital assessment and marking is more environmentally friendly than paper-based. Talk to the LX.lab team about how to move your assessment activities online.

#13 If you’re creating a video or other digital media for your course, try to make it reusable. This could mean things like avoiding mentioning time sensitive information, or details that only apply to the current offering of the subject (like what year and session it is!).

#14 Spread the word: share your story of sustainability in learning and teaching on Futures!

#15 Subscribe to UTS Sustainability News to find out about events and opportunities at UTS.

#16 Seek out businesses with a commitment to corporate social responsibility as industry partners or guest lecturers.

#17 Depending on your discipline area, encourage students to recycle materials used in class projects e.g. models or prototypes.

#18 Is there an opportunity to partner with a community-based organisation as a student learning project? Talk to UTS shopfront.

#19 “If you want students to learn and to become passionate about the subject you teach, celebrate what it can do to help solve urgent societal problems.” Nice advice, along with discipline-specific resources, from the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College.

#20 Develop curriculum using sustainable processes, recommends Macquarie University. For example, “a vision that develops from discourse, systems thinking, collaboration and critical self reflection.”

#21 Give students opportunities opportunities to reflect on what sustainability means in the context of your discipline area, to them as future practitioners and professionals in your field, and as citizens of the world. Here’s one example from Sarina Kilham.

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  1. Sustainability Week at the LX.lab - Futures - […] from Mel Edwards, conceptualising sustainability with Sarina Kilham, and from the Futures team, ways to make your learning and…

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