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Educating for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Schools and Universities

Explore the global challenges facing sustainable development worldwide and how to introduce them in schools and HE institutions.

918 enrolled on this course

Educating for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Schools and Universities

918 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Develop the skills to examine sustainable development with all learners

As part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, schools and universities have a responsibility to educate all learners on sustainability.

On this three-week course, you’ll gain an overview of the key issues relating to sustainability and how to deliver this knowledge, whether you teach in schools or higher education.

Explore global sustainability issues with specialist guidance from the Institute of Education at UCL

Learning from the experts at the Development Education Research Centre (DERC), within IOE, you’ll discover the fundamentals of ESD and its related themes. You’ll also explore issues and debates relating to ESD research and policy.

With this understanding, you’ll have the confidence to pitch this knowledge at the correct level for your learners.

Learn how to incorporate sustainable development education into your teaching practice

You’ll assess teaching approaches to ESD and discuss the merits of each in practice. You’ll also investigate the challenges educators face when teaching ESD.

By doing so, you’ll discover best practice from around the world and gain the skills to plan your own ESD introduction.

Enhance your ESD teaching resources with worldwide peer collaboration

With a global network of educators learning alongside you, you’ll encounter diverse perspectives and unique practices of ESD. You’ll also explore a range of learning resources, guides, and activities to help develop your own ESD plan.

With these skills and materials, you’ll be able to create an engaging and enlightening program of ESD teaching for your own learners.

By the end of this course, you’ll understand the key global issues of ESD and how they are being addressed worldwide. You’ll also have learned key techniques to embed this learning into your own curriculum.


  • Week 1

    Introduction to Educating for Sustainable Development in schools and universities

    • Welcome and introductions

      Welcome to the course! We will begin by providing an overview of the course and what we will explore each week.

    • What is ESD?

      In this activity, we'll explore the meaning of the term ESD and some of its key themes and approaches, as well as how it has been taken up in international policy.

    • Why is ESD important?

      In this activity, we'll consider how ESD might be important for students, educators, communities and the planet.

    • What ESD means for educators and teaching

      In this activity, we'll consider the roles that educators can play in ESD and some of the common challenges faced in practice.

  • Week 2

    Key themes and approaches in ESD

    • What does the term mean?

      In this activity, we'll consider what ESD and related terms mean and hear from researchers about their work in these areas.

    • Elements of ESD

      In this activity we'll consider models of ESD which can be applied to practice and the key elements of an ESD approach.

    • Approaches to teaching and learning

      In this activity, we'll look at approaches to teaching and learning in ESD and consider how these might apply to practice.

    • Bringing it all together

      In this activity, we briefly summarise what we have explored on the course so far and also consider next steps.

  • Week 3

    Applying your learning to practice

    • Applying your learning to practice

      We begin with an introduction to the final week of the course.

    • Considering ESD in Practice at Different Levels

      In this activity, we'll explore how ESD at different levels and in different settings can link together to provide opportunities for lifelong learning.

    • Mapping your ESD journey

      in this activity, you will use a framework to reflect on your existing knowledge, skills and experiences related to ESD and also consider areas you might like to develop further in the future.

    • Thinking about practice

      In this activity we'll hear from educators in schools and universities talking about a range of experiences of ESD in practice.

    • Taking ESD forward

      In this final activity, you'll reflect on your learning from the course and consider how you might take it forward in the future.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the concept of education for sustainable development and related terms such as climate change education.
  • Engage with key issues and debates in education for sustainable development research and policy.
  • Investigate the key elements of, and approaches to, education for sustainable development in research and practice.
  • Explore the opportunities and challenges that education for sustainable development can present for educational practitioners.
  • Collaborate with peers around the world to develop an awareness of diverse perspectives on, and practices of, education for sustainable development.
  • Assess the range of resources which are available to support educators to incorporate education for sustainable development in their practice, including guides, approaches and learning activities.
  • Develop greater confidence, knowledge and skills to be able to incorporate education for sustainable development into your teaching.
  • Reflect on your current practice and identify how you might apply the learning from the course to your practice in the future.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for educators working in schools or higher education institutions around the world who want to improve their knowledge of education and sustainable development. It will also be useful if you would like to share best practice with others in a global context.

Who will you learn with?

Dr Nicole Blum is a Senior Lecturer at UCL Institute of Education (London, UK). Her key areas of teaching and research interest are global learning & education for sustainable development.

Dr Fran Hunt is a Senior Research Officer in the Development Education Research Centre (DERC), UCL Institute of Education. She works on MA Global Learning (IOE) and Global Education for Teachers (FL).

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save


For the first month. Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$74/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 15 Apr 2023

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

T&Cs apply.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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