Sustainability and Climate Action

The University of Bristol was the first UK university to declare a climate emergency in 2019, and sustainability is at the heart of the University’s vision and strategy. The ecological challenges we face require intercultural dialogue and understanding, and in the School of Modern Languages we embed questions of sustainability and environmental change in our teaching and research.


Developing the vocabulary and skills to be able to discuss sustainability in a range of cultural contexts is a key aim of the language curriculum across our departments. For example, Year 4 undergraduate students in Russian discuss how climate change affects the indigenous nomadic population in Russia’s far north, and students in Advanced German on the University Wide Language Programme carry out a group project on improving sustainability at the University of Bristol.

Environmental issues are also addressed in many of the School’s undergraduate cultural units, including ‘Naples: Culture, Identity and Nation’ in the Department of Italian, ‘Exiles and Migrants’ in the Department of German, and ‘Oceanic Images in Modern Chilean Culture’ in the Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies.

Several of the School’s masters-level units, such as ‘Theorizing Violence: Colonial Encounters and Anticolonial Reactions’, are available as part of the Faculty’s MA in Environmental Humanities.


Academic staff in the School are involved in research initiatives related to sustainability across the Faculty of Arts and the wider University. Dr Paul Merchant (Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies) co-directs the Centre for Environmental Humanities, and recently undertook a research project exploring cultural perceptions of the Pacific Ocean in Chile and Peru.  Dr Richard McClelland (German) has edited a conference volume, The Draw of the Alps: Alpine Summits and Borderlands in modern German-speaking Culture (de Gruyter, forthcoming 2023) on transnational and transmedial approaches to Alpine space since the C18th. The volume includes a discussion of the Alps in the Anthropocene and the impacts of climate change on the mountains as a topographical and cultural space.

Beyond our teaching and research, the School has a Climate Action Plan that is reviewed annually and covers all areas of activity, from reducing energy consumption to sourcing low-carbon food options for the events we host.

More information

Click here to read more information on the central University sustainability website. 

Sustainability Policy 2017 - 2023

The university Sustainability Policy sets out guiding principles behind all decisions that are made at the University of Bristol.

Edit this page