The Green Academy Programme

The Green Academy is an organisational programme that was launched in 2011 by the Higher Education Academy (HEA). The Academy’s primary aim is to embed learning about sustainability into the overall student experience. The Green Academy was based on the HEA’s wider Change Academy programme, implemented with the goal of bringing about organisational development within higher education.

University of Wales: Trinity Saint David

The Green Academy came at a 'perfect time' for the institution and helped to both raise the profile of, and validate the sustainability agenda in the institution. It gave confidence to the University and acted as a catalyst; in September 2011 the concept of INSPIRE (the Institute for Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness) was developed.The vision of INSPIRE is, "putting sustainability at the heart of the new University's strategic vision". Within the curriculum, INSPIRE has ensured commitments to the following:

  • all courses in all faculties go through INSPIRE for validation

  • sustainability is embedded into all undergraduate students' experiences, and TSD+, the University's employability awards, embeds sustainability within it 

For more information see the Sustainability Strategy

How other Universities have benefitted from the Green Academy:

University of Bristol

The Green Academy led to "more confidence as an institution" for the University of Bristol. The University focused on opportunities rather than barriers and found that "the culture of the University was more positive than we thought". The University encourages its faculties through implementation of a strategy that requires students to understand how their discipline relates to sustainability. 

The focus is on guiding and supporting faculties and schools to work out what sustainability means for them in a 'real and relevant way'. These new developments build on the University's tradition of strong student engagement in sustainability and the high profile given to the agenda through estates-based and informal curriculum work on campus.The approach is enhancing the status and understanding of sustainability at corporate level and is bearing fruit in stimulating work in the formal curriculum within faculties and schools in a context of significant faculty-based academic autonomy.

Canterbury Christ Church University

The Green Academy helped Canterbury Christ Church University embrace the notion of developing critical thinking skills through the consideration of 'wicked problems' that students will face in the future and made this a central concept to their approach. They developed an appreciation of the role that can be played by students in taking forward sustainability in both formal and informal curriculum situations. From this, they developed the 'Futures Curriculum' which will embed sustainability in each student's whole experience. The framework will provide the support staff and students need to realise the vision. This plan is projected to take 10 years to achieve.

Keele University

For Keele University the Green Academy programme provided a means of "catalysing a step change" in the institution and "legitimising" a greater focus on curriculum reform. Sustainability became a key element of what is now called the 'Distinctive Keele Curriculum.' The 'Distinctive Keele Curriculum' plans to embed sustainability into the curriculum and sustainability opportunities in the co-curriculum, including volunteering, enterprise activities and representational roles on or off campus.

The Green Academy provided a way to 'benchmark' the University's existing practice against other comparable institutions around the UK and gave the University confidence in the level of achievements to date. The Green Academy provided the university a chance to make sustainability a major component in the curriculum and student experience.

University of Nottingham

The Green Academy motivated the University of Nottingham to establish a more strategic position for education for sustainability across the University. They embedded sustainability into the curriculum and created a process called: The Grand Challenge. The Grand Challenge send and sets out a strategic challege to every school and without any coercion or threat invites them to participate in a broadly based change process. There are four Grand Challenges in operation: Tutoring; Assessment in the Digital Age; Internationalisation of the Curriculum; and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Each Grand Challenge is eligible for funding for any of the activities it initiates in any of the schools that agree to participate.

University of Southampton

At the University of Southampton, the Green Academy has stimulated a significant change in the rate and scale of instiutional developments in the context of sustainability. The institution has developed the formally fragmented efforts towards sustainability onto a more strategic and coherent institutional footing and has led to the formulation of ambitious long-term vision to develop the University as a global leader in sustainability. The University is adopting the strapline, "The University of Southampton: A Globally Responsible Univerisity". The University has also established sustainability at the 'CORE' (curriculum, operations, research and exprience) of the institution.

University of Worcester

Through the Green Academy, the University of Worcester recognised that there were already pockets of sustainability-related course provision within course programmes, but that in order to broaden the offer to all students it needed to take a more radical and holistic institutional approach. A student survey at the University showed that 86% of those interviewed considered that an opportunity to study an option in sustainability would help their future employment and personal development. Students also expressed a clear preference for active, enquiry and applied learning as an integral component of the curriculum change process. The University has developed a 30-credit elective in sustainability. The curriculum will offer three levels: Level 4: Understanding Sustainability, Level 5: Work-based learning project and Level 6: Capstone project (drawing together disciplinary work and applying sustainability to a real-world community project).