Discover how we integrate sustainability into our campus
Supporting our students for the age of sustainability
The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has a longstanding history of delivering teaching and learning based around sustainability principles – from managing soils effectively through to the impacts of carbon management on business decisions, and assessing the effect on biodiversity of farm management approaches.
The RAU has now taken this one step further by ensuring that when it reviews its courses through the validation process, all students are being equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attributes to work and live in a world where balancing economic, environmental, and social considerations in decision making is increasingly important.
The University considers not only ‘what’ it teaches, but also ‘how’ it is doing it. RAU students become ‘sustainability literate’; armed with the relevant knowledge as well as the skills and attributes to think critically, holistically, and with a long-term perspective about how to address sustainability issues within their discipline, and their wider lives, especially where there may not always be obvious answers. Through supporting the development of these aspects in its graduates, the University aims to engage them in delivering sustainable development, as well as support their wider employability.
RAU courses are reviewed through the validation process when new, and on a five year cycle, to ensure that they are up-to-date. At this point, course teams, supported by ‘sustainability in the curriculum champions’, are required to look at how their courses support graduates’ sustainability literacy. In addition, education for sustainable development is a core theme running through the academic staff professional development programme, which includes an RAU-specific toolkit on incorporating education for sustainable development into teaching at all levels; from course-wide approaches down to individual sessions.
There are many ways of developing sustainability literacy amongst graduates and each course team will use the most appropriate approaches for their course. For example, in the MSc Rural Estate Management degree, core sustainability principles are addressed within the course’s Rural Policy module, whilst the other modules look at how sustainable development can be applied practice i.e. what characterises a sustainable building, how woodland can be managed sustainably, and how sustainability factors impact on property valuation. Teaching and learning approaches are designed to support the development of students’ skills and attributes.
MSc Rural Estate Management students are often presented with real-life case studies for their coursework, many of which are developed in collaboration with practising surveyors. One example is of students working in small groups with a client brief looking at potential opportunities for re-using redundant farm buildings. Through doing this, students develop a range of skills, including analytical skills in assessing relevant environmental, economic and social aspects; creative skills in considering potential options and their wider holistic impacts in the short, and long-term; as well as enhanced communication skills within their groups, and with clients and other professionals. In other parts of this course different approaches are used. For example, stimulus activities (say, involving examples of people affected by housing issues) to encourage students to consider their professional and personal perspectives on wider issues affecting society.
Find out more about sustainability at the RAU.