I attended an education and sustainability conference in London recently held by the HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) and wanted to relate back about my experience.
As a current student at Canterbury Christ Church University I feel that having the opportunity to attend such an event was not only a privilege but an informative experience. I sat with directors, doctors and academics but disappointingly with only three other students (two of us which were from CCCU).
The speakers included Steve Egan HEFCE’s deputy Chief Executive, David Pencheon from the NHS, Nigel Carrington Vice Chancellor from the University of the Arts London and from Dom Anderson Vice President National Union of Students Society and Citizenship and were all fantastic.
The word ‘Sustainability’ sometimes raises a yawn, so if you’re still reading I think it’s best to understand that it is not about a load of people hugging trees or ramming tuna fish trawlers to save dolphins. It’s very much more about reducing our carbon footprint and providing a future for ourselves and others.
At the conference it was mentioned that humans aren’t rational beings. The choices we make cannot be, because if we were, we would not continue to put strain on the planet and harm our health. I don’t agree with this comment personally, I think as human beings we are very rational, I also think that we are perhaps too rational and have just become lazy due to technology and science becoming the dominating factor in fixing us and making the world more efficient. Therefore it is more rational to put things off till later, wait for a cure and leave others to solve the problems.
People assume they can’t make a difference to reduce their carbon footprint and think that surely someone will find a breakthrough idea to fix it, but if we don’t individually act now it might be too late to put it off until later.When it comes to breakthroughs with sustainability there is one ideal type of person that can start to do that. Us!
Education, itself is not only about how good a job you will get at the end and how much money you will earn, it’s also about what kind of future we will create and get to live in. Starting with those in education can make the difference and teach simple methods in sustainability that can stay with us for the rest of our lives, and continue the cycle to educate those who will take our place.
An NUS survey showed that 4 in 5 students wanted their universities to be more active in sustainability, let’s try and make it 5 out of 5. There are so many projects and ways everyone can get involved with and there is so much you can do individually. Get in contact with your SU or Sustainability department to see what they are doing or with your own ideas.
If you are still really are not interested, look at it in a different way, don’t take part for the future of the environment, don’t take part because it is you’re children and their children’s future that is at stake, take part and promote sustainability because your extra-curricular involvement will look fantastic to employers, and as a side line, YOU help create a future.