Pioneering sustainability education project shortlisted for Guardian University Award

A project that has pioneered the introduction of sustainability and climate change into the curriculum for nursing and a number of other subjects has been shortlisted in this year’s Guardian University Awards. 

NursusTOOLKIT has been developed by academics in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, in conjunction with a number of other schools across the University, and partner institutions in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. 

It is a multilingual and comprehensive set of teaching materials available free of charge to educators, and includes lectures and activities for nursing, geography, design, midwifery, public health, and health planning and management.

Led by Professor Janet Richardson, the project (2014-1-UK01-KA203-001645 – funded by the EU) was formally launched last summer and has already been adopted by institutions across the continent and received the backing of senior leaders in the health sector in Europe.

Professor Richardson said: 
"NurSusTOOLKIT is the crystalisation of the School of Nursing and Midwifery’s exploration of what sustainability means in the health education context. It's a journey that began when we used our research to develop a sustainability scenario and evaluated this with students on the child health nursing course. Then our colleagues in other disciplines got involved, creating sessions that brought together nursing, design and architecture students to work on cross-disciplinary projects that challenged them to consider the impact of climate change on the NHS."
When the students underwent evaluation using a University-developed Sustainability Attitudes in Nursing Survey (SANS), the team found evidence of changes in attitudes and knowledge in over 600 Plymouth nursing students. This provided the momentum to widen the focus beyond the UK. 

Together, with the Universities of Maastricht (The Netherlands), Jaen (Spain), and Esslingen (Germany), Plymouth applied for Erasmus+ EU funding in 2014, and was awarded Euro 462,000 to ‘Develop a sustainability literacy and competency framework for nurses and health professionals with associated teaching and learning materials’. 

Using a range of research methods including a Delphi consensus study, the team gathered evidence from educators across Europe regarding what nurses need to know about sustainability, and from there, began to develop core sustainability competencies for nurses and health professionals, which would go on to form the basis of 50 teaching and learning modules (the NurSusTOOLKIT).

This NurSusTOOLKIT is free and available in six languages – English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch and Polish – using creative commons principles. Over 150 nurse educators have registered to access the NurSusTOOLKIT worldwide, from New Zealand and Canada as well as Europe, and the NurSus Project team is working with a number of universities to help them to embed sustainability into their curriculum.

Materials from the NurSusTOOLKIT feature in the teaching delivered to all nursing and midwifery students at Plymouth as well as students in other disciplines such as the Business School. 

It has been shortlisted in the sustainability category, for the 2018 Guardian University Awards, and the winners will be announced at a ceremony in London in April.

Professor Janet Richardson on the NurSus TOOLKIT:

Climate change is a huge challenge in health care – but this new resource will help nurses and health professionals face it.

International collaboration

The NurSus project has involved collaboration with international partners. The project will enhance the sustainability literacy and competency in nursing education through the development of a teaching and learning resource, the NurSusTOOLKIT. The £359,039 project is funded through Erasmus+ and involves Plymouth, Esslingen (Germany), Jaen (Spain) and Maastricht (the Netherlands) universities.

Find out more about the NurSus project

NurSus TOOLKIT

www.nursus.eu

This online platform provides a host of materials to put climate change and sustainability at the heart of healthcare training. 

For example, one exercise asks students to consider how they could continue to deliver healthcare if equipment made from plastic was no longer available. Other activities are designed to make links between staying healthy and caring for the environment.

The toolkit is the outcome of a three-year collaboration between the University of Plymouth and universities in Esslingen (Germany), Jaen (Spain) and Maastricht (the Netherlands), funded by European Union programme Erasmus+.