Students investigating forest dynamics

Whilst at the University, you'll have plenty of opportunities to develop and practise your:

1. Sustainability awareness

By understanding the knowledge, skills, and attributes that are needed to live in a way that safeguards environmental and societal wellbeing, both now and for future generations.

2. Systems thinking 

Being able to appreciate the interrelationships between environmental, social, economic, and political systems when you are trying to understand and respond to sustainability challenges that exist at local and global levels.

3. Openness 

To encounters with people with other cultural perspectives and different worldviews, and being willing to question and reflect on your own perspectives on sustainable development.

4. Responsibility 

Knowing that your actions have consequences and seeking to enhance wellbeing, social justice, and ecological integrity within your academic, professional, civic, and personal life.

5. Change-leadership 

Willing to act collaboratively in bringing about change towards more sustainable futures at your own personal and community levels.

How can I develop these attributes further?

  • Visit the University sustainability webpages and find out why we're one of the most sustainable universities in the UK.
  • Take the Sustainability Quiz – a multiple choice questionnaire developed by an international team of experts to help students get a sense of how sustainably aware they currently are and where areas exist for future personal development. To access this quiz please email to be provided with login details.
  • Find out if sustainability is covered in your programme – if it isn't, ask your student representative or ask your lecturer if it could be included. UPSU has its own very own Environment and Sustainability Forum and runs various Sustainability Awareness raising events such as Green Week – visit the UPSU website for further details.
  • The University’s Centre for Sustainable Futures (CSF) regularly runs Earth Summit Simulations that have been specifically designed to help you develop your systems thinking skills as well as enable you to collaborate with students from other academic disciplines and have fun at the same time! 
  • The Languages Café promotes communication across languages and across cultures. It helps home students and international students to make contact and network and fosters cross-cultural friendships. The Languages Café runs on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  • Learn a language! Timetable permitting, all students can choose a language as an elective if they wish. Language electives are available in German, French, Spanish and Mandarin. Students should seek guidance from a member of the Languages Group to ensure that they have selected the appropriate language module. 
  • The Centre for Sustainable Futures runs regular Open Space for Dialogue and Enquiry workshops that provide a safe space for students to explore sustainability and well-being issues and encounter different cultural perspectives. As well as helping you to develop empathy for others it is a great way for you to learn to ask your own questions and think about your own world view. 
  • Each summer the University runs the Global Challenge Programme. This is a one week co-curricular opportunity for students to develop their leadership skills as global citizens. It provides a range of fun and interactive workshops along with community action opportunities that include as a central theme the aim of developing inter-cultural communication and understanding
  • Future Leaders Programme – open to any students from across all Faculties with an interest in leading innovation in sustainability education here at the University. The programme consists of a range of personal development and collaborative leadership opportunities and provides the facilitated space for students to lead their own sustainability education initiatives. 
  • UPSU runs an Environment and Sustainability Forum, where students can share and get support to implement their ideas for change within UPSU and the University. There are also dozens of clubs and societies within UPSU for you to take a lead in running. 
  • ‘Dissertations for Good’. The University has signed up to a National Union of Students scheme that supports students leading positive change through their dissertation projects. This scheme helps to partner students with organisations to collaborate on dissertations into economic, social and environmental sustainability. 


Exploring Sustainability – an informative and engaging website from the Canterbury Christ Church University Futures Initiative, which is a long-term change programme designed to develop understanding about sustainability in academic life.
‘One Planet Living’ advances ‘A vision of a world in which people enjoy happy, healthy lives within their fair share of the earth's resources, leaving space for wildlife and wilderness. Check out: One Planet Living
The global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all the member states of the United Nations in September 2015 to 'end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure the prosperity for all' with a target date of 2030. See Sustainable Development - Goals
For individual action linking to the SDGs see Sustainable Development – Take Action.
‘Linking Thinking’ is an easy and accessible resource on systems thinking.
The Open University has an introductory self-training unit on systems thinking Systems Thinking and Practice Open Learning Unit.
Systems Thinking, Systems Tools and Chaos Theory – a helpful site covering a wide range of systems thinking ideas and tools. 
There are a number of websites that encourage Global Citizenship and the opportunity to engage with sustainability and global challenges from a range of different cultural perspectives. Visit Think Global or charities such as Oxfam or international organisations that support peace and human rights such as UNESCO.
For inspiration about how you can be a change-maker, visit or
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