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BRASS shortlisted for Times Higher award

01 October 2008


A simple to use system to assess the depth and breadth of coverage of sustainability teaching issues has been shortlisted for a major educational award.

The software has been developed at Cardiff University’s Centre for Business Relationships Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) after it sought to undertake an audit of Cardiff’s teaching from a sustainable development perspective only to discover that no suitable software existed for such an audit.

As a result, BRASS created its own system. Postgraduate researcher Rodrigo Lozano developed the Sustainability Tool for Auditing for University Curricula in Higher-Education (STAUNCH) which assesses the depth and breadth of coverage of sustainability teaching issues. It then provides statistical analysis, simple reports and ‘maps’ to show relative strengths and weaknesses.

STAUNCH was successfully piloted during 2007 with more than 5,000 individual undergraduate courses at Cardiff each being assessed on 36 different criteria. The results allow an assessment of whether individual schools or degree schemes are covering the appropriate range of sustainability issues at the right level. The results are now being fed back to Schools so that they can plan the development of the curriculum within each part of the University or simply as a way to get staff members thinking about how sustainability could be better linked into their teaching.

The STAUNCH system is now being made available commercially to other institutions. There has recently been an agreement amongst all of Wales’ Higher Education institutions to use the system to conduct a curriculum sustainability development audit by the end of 2008. This will produce the most holistic, systematic and comparable audit of its type to have been completed nationally anywhere in the world. The system has also been presented at education conferences and two academic articles have been prepared and submitted to the International Journal of Sustainable Development in Higher Education.

The Times Higher Awards recognise the ground-breaking work undertaken by UK higher education institutions. Cardiff has been nominated for "outstanding contribution to sustainable development." The winner will be announced on October 23.

BRASS director Professor Ken Peattie said: "STAUNCH is making a substantial impact in encouraging lecturers to think about sustainable development in their courses, both at Cardiff and now further afield. Our shortlisting is further confirmation of this contribution."