Centre for Bioscience, The Higher Education Academy

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Education for Sustainable Development

Do employers want graduates who know about sustainability?

Sustainability within businesses is often closely linked to issues of corporate and social responsibility and ethical decision making. It may be a key theme for some employers. For example, many colleges and universities are taking an active interest in making campuses and work environments more sustainable and environmentally friendly, the Green Gown Awards highlight how some institutions are becoming more sustainable.

Many Bioscience employers are very aware of their corporate responsibility in relation to sustainability issues;

  • GlaxoSmithKline say they will "operate in an environmentally responsible manner through systematic management of [their] environmental impacts, measurement of [their] performance and setting challenging performance targets."
  • Astra Zeneca "Minimising the environmental impact of our processes by reducing the carbon footprint and natural resource demands of our own and our suppliers’ business activities ... "

Many large commercial organisations will produce a sustainability report, to accompany their annual report, detailing their sustainability objectives and achievements over the past year, for example, BP produce an annual sustainability report and review.

The Centre’s discussions with employers have revealed some bioscience employers are very keen for their employees to have sustainability-related knowledge and skills. The employers contacted felt that having sustainably literate employees would improve the standing or competitiveness of their business. There is additional evidence more employers are seeking graduates who are sustainability literate, are aware of sustainability issues and have competencies to address them in their professional work

ESD also gives students a opportunity to develop skills that employers value, such as the ability to convert theory into practice, the skills to work creatively and holistically and knowledge of pressing contemporary issues.

Of possible further interest:

Values and Corporate Social Responsibility, a report from the Philosophical and Religious Studies and Geography Earth and Environmental Sciences Subject Centres.


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