This paper will discuss the methods used to identify the baseline status of sustainability in the curriculum of UWE Bristol programmes and to begin to assess the contribution which the university is making towards the objectives outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Further, it will consider how this knowledge will inform future curriculum development and research activities within the institution and future tracking thereof. The experience of UWE Bristol in engaging with the SDGs is likely to be of use to other institutions (in higher education or elsewhere) who are similarly aiming to contribute positively to sustainable development.
UWE has undertaken a baseline assessment of its engagement with issues highlighted in the SDGs. Alignment between the SDGs and the primary disciplinary focus of each of the university’s faculties has already been identified, as has alignment between the core themes of the institution’s Sustainability Plan and the SDGs. The next phase of this process involves an examination of UWE’s portfolio of programmes of study, its public and community engagement and its research activities with respect to the extent to which they contribute to the achievement of the Goals. The university has begun a programme of mapping the curriculum against the SDGs which will enable this offer to be enhanced and made more comprehensive in terms of the scope and level of visibility of sustainability issues embedded in programme design and delivery. The disciplines of midwifery, environmental science and public health have already been comprehensively assessed whilst accounting and finance, geography, and computer science are in the final stages of assessment. Other UWE disciplines will be assessed over the 2016/17 academic year.