The GSI is an interdisciplinary research institute at ARU, comprising four themes: Consumption and Change; Global Risk and Resilience; Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing; and Education for Sustainability. 

Delivering sustainability requires an integrated view of the world. The Global Sustainability Institute (GSI), is committed to playing a key role in developing practical solutions to the challenges facing humanity.

The GSI has staff from a large variety of academic disciplines including maths, computing, behavioural science, economics, engineering and geography. This interdisciplinary nature, and the ability to ask questions about why traditional approaches to certain global challenges are no longer adequate in themselves, makes us truly unique.

Our research focuses on personal motivations and systems change set against the challenges of sustainability. Our core research question is: how does the system influence the individual, and how does the individual influence the system?


The 'system' is the political, financial, industrial and social frameworks that contribute to challenges we face and lock us into future pathways. These may be environmental challenges such as climate change, natural capital challenges such as resource limits or social challenges such as local and global inequity.

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Education for Sustainability

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Our approach to learning and teaching is founded on the following principles: 

  1. That we must rapidly act to transform our social, economic and environmental systems so that social justice and equity for all can be achieved within the limits of planetary boundaries  

  2. That simply giving people information (e.g. on climate science) will not necessarily result in a change in their behaviour (the knowledge-action gap). 


Education which embodies these principles is often referred to as ‘Education for Sustainability’, or ‘Education for Sustainable Development’

This approach does not simply view students as ‘empty vessels’ that require filling with knowledge, but as active participants in their own learning journey, who draw on their past experiences and knowledge to inform their current understandings of a topic. It aligns closely with ARU’s Active Curriculum, which promotes participatory pedagogical tools to ensure that students are ‘actively involved in their learning, both individually and with others, within an inclusive supportive environment that empowers them to build knowledge and understanding of a subject for themselves’ (ARU Active Curriculum Framework)

The EfS team works closely with staff and students across the university to support the implementation of the active curriculum through a sustainability lens. The team support students to develop their graduate capitals through opportunities to engage in real-world, extra-curricular projects and programmes.


These vary from supporting students to apply for an external funding bid in order to create an orchard at a local secondary school, to running their own on-campus sustainable fashion week. 

To find out more about the GSI and our work, visit: 

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