Sustainable teaching and paperless practices present opportunities for academic and support staff across the University to make changes in their own areas of work, which can have a positive impact on bigger-picture sustainability outcomes. 

They also align with two focus topics of the UQ Sustainability Strategy, namely:

  • Increasing sustainability initiatives in the Teaching and learning space
  • Reducing Waste in areas such as paper and related items (e.g. printers, ink cartridges, storage facilities for hard copy resources).

UQ Sustainability hosts regular sessions on how to embed sustainable teaching and paperless practices into your courses, typically at the beginning of the year or semester. Check out our events calendar for any upcoming sessions.

If you’re looking for ideas to get you started between sessions, peruse our top tips and areas to consider below.

You may also like to visit our page, Going paperless in the workplace, which outlines strategies and benefits for the broader professional and administrative workforce.

Going paperless

“Going paperless” in this context means converting all of your teaching resources and documents into a digital format. There are numerous benefits to going paperless, including the ability to:

  • Improve environmental outcomes
  • Improve document accessibility 
  • Enable document security, if needed
  • Ensure your teaching resources are saved and backed up 
  • Save time (if re-using and editing resources each year + no more hurriedly printing materials before a lecture or tutorial)
  • Save costs (on printing, paper and associated costs)
  • Save space in your office.

UQ now also uses eAssessment to manage all online assessment centrally throughout the University. If you want to know more about how this works, read here or contact the eAssessment team.

Our going paperless in the workplace page contains steps you can follow to reduce your paper use.

Incorporating sustainability content into courses

Sustainable teaching is not just about how you teach, but what you teach, too.

No matter which discipline or school you are part of at the University, you may be able to find ways to incorporate sustainability into your courses.

Here are a few ideas, contributed by your teaching peers across the University:

  • Invite sustainability practitioners working in your field into the classroom
  • Use University initiatives, facilities, buildings and environments as resources for student learning
  • Look for opportunities to embed sustainability issues as examples and case studies in your learning activities and assessment tasks
  • Talk with your course team about how sustainability fits into your course as a whole
  • Seek out businesses with a commitment to corporate social responsibility as industry partners or guest lecturers.

Sustainability participation

In addition to re-thinking course content and digitisation of teaching materials, all UQ staff and students can access a range of other resources to help reduce waste and increase sustainability in their daily roles and routines. 

These include the UQ Reuse and Recycling Stations; WARPit (an online tool to donate or claim unused furniture and office items); the UQ Sustainable Events Guide; and the Green Office Program, to name just a few.

As a teacher, you are also uniquely positioned to encourage your students to participate in sustainability initiatives. Many of our programs are designed to help students gain practical experience that will foster lifelong sustainability learning, and be a valuable addition to their resumes upon graduating. 

Take a look at the UQ Sustainability Award; sustainability volunteering options; and our flagship Green Ambassador Program, which rolls up myriad student sustainability opportunities into a wide-ranging, student-run engagement and development program.

See more examples of sustainability in action at UQ