Education for Sustainable Development (ESD),
Global Citizenship, and Curriculum Development


So what does this mean for our curricula?

As an institution that has a strong ethos of widening participation and arguably, social justice, we seek ways to ensure our curricula are current, relevant and congruent with our values and mission. If we underpin our curricula with the kinds of values that are inherent in the well-documented, but still developing, aforementioned concepts, we can enable our students to experience transformative learning and develop capabilities that will help them lead lives they have ‘reason to value’. This brings us back to a reason for educating students beyond the instrumental goal of preparation to join the workforce.

The podcast below attempts to include these concepts, focussing on curriculum development in relation to the UN challenges.

Many universities are now working hard to develop curricula relevant to 21st century student needs. If we agree that we need curricula that develop students’ capabilities and their agency in the world, discipline-based specialists will be able to work with these concepts in the context of their own discipline.

As with any curriculum development, there will be elements of the existing curriculum that already articulate strongly with these concepts and the suggestions made below are intended to be helpful, rather than prescriptive. The accompanying tool can provide a stimulus for possible curriculum development. Although the QAA document is for guidance at this stage, the current momentum behind these agendas is worthy of consideration.


Boni, A., & Walker, M. (Eds.). (2013). Human development and capabilities: Re-imagining the university of the twenty-first century: Routledge Ltd.

Walker, M., 2013. Universities, development and social justice: a human capabilities perspective. Paper for VI Congreso CUD.   Accessed 4/08/2014 

Further reading:

Walker, M., (2008) ‘Capabilities and what else? Principles for praxis pedagogies in higher education’. Plenary presentation at the IV Congreso Universidad y Cooperacion al Desarollo, Barcelona 12-14 November 2008.

Robeyns, I. (2011) The Capability Approach. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.   [accessed 14/08/2014]

The Manchester Sustainability in the Curriculum Community of Practice discuss problem based learning and sustainability education.