Barriers to Embedding Education for Sustainable Development in the Curriculum

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Following the review of the Food Science programme at Queen’s University Belfast, the need for a new Sustainable Food Systems module was identified. Coinciding with this, the presenters took part in the UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Bootcamp. Applying the techniques taught there to design of this module, we sought to embed the hallmarks of ESD into the curriculum: co-creation, transformative pedagogy, active learning, and authentic assessment. However, this was not straightforward, and the presenters faced, and continue to face, many challenges in doing so.

We offer a reflection on module design that utilises ESD-informed and active learning module design, and discuss the local, institutional, and systemic barriers encountered in this way of working. We share our personal experience of reconciling the necessity of this approach against the realities of modern Higher Education practice, with the hope that those in the earlier stages of working within the ESD paradigm are forewarned, while those who are facing ESD challenges can apply learnings to their own practice. The presenters also welcome the perspective of tackling barriers from all those present at the conference.
Period29 Mar 2023
Event titleAdvance HE Sustainability Symposium
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • education for sustainable development