Some challenges feel so complex and overwhelming that given the choice, we decide to focus our energies elsewhere. This is often the case with topics like climate justice and sustainability, which span a multitude of issues and industries from business, science, and engineering to society, design, and politics.

The good news is that UTS has a newly approved Sustainability Strategy 2023-2027 which serves as a roadmap to support staff in addressing these challenges. The strategy outlines embedding sustainability into UTS curriculum over the next three years.

‘More work?’ I hear you ask. Not necessarily! In fact, a variety of learning and teaching resources are already available to you. A cross-departmental group at UTS is addressing the call from students, researchers and academics for meaningful integration of sustainability into learning and teaching, with the creation of OERs that you can use, revise, and remix. A suite of resources previously only available to UTS staff has now been ‘recycled’ into lesson plans that are accessible externally

Building on open resources

In 2023, Postgraduate Learning Design (PGLD) created the Sustainability Module accessible through Canvas Commons to make sustainable content available across all disciplines. This ready-to-go, customisable content is an exemplary OER developed in collaboration with Professor Sara Wilkinson from the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, LX.lab and the UTS Sustainability Strategy Unit. 

The module weaves together topical videos, news articles, reflection prompts and other interactive activities to introduce sustainability concepts and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Although the module can be easily accessed by UTS staff, we also wanted to make the content available to a wider audience, and highlight ways that the content could be copied and adapted for different learning contexts.

Adaptable lesson plans for any context

The module was re-worked to become Integrating sustainability into your subjects, a set of open resources under a Creative Commons licence. The resources are set out as flexible lesson plans, including suggested timings, materials, prompts and class activities that can work across a range of contexts, from in-person classes to asynchronous online subjects.

Resources currently include:

You don’t need to be an expert in sustainability to use these resources – in fact, teachers are encouraged to learn and discuss together with students as part of the process.

Leaving the door open to change

The resources are not set in stone, but can continue to evolve and grow as further examples of sustainability-focussed lessons and learning design are shared and put into practice. If you have your own tried-and-tested lessons or materials that integrate sustainability topics into your subject, we would love to hear about them – they could even become the next resource in the collection!

Want to learn more? Come along to the next Learning Design Meetup in collaboration with Open Education Week at UTS! We’re bringing together academics, sustainability experts and learning designers who have contributed to these resources and sharing practical ideas for integrating sustainability concepts into your learning and teaching. Register for OEW x Learning Design Meetup: Synergising sustainability with OERs in Higher Education and we’ll see you online on Thursday, 7 March.

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