Glimpses from CSE's fourth National Knowledge Conclave: Over the period of March 4-7, 2019, CSE organised its fourth National Knowledge Conclave at the Anil Agarwal Environment Training Institute (AAETI) campus, Nimli, Rajasthan exclusively for the faculty members involved in teaching papers related to environment from across the country.
National Conclave 2018-19
Politics of Climate Change:
As in every year, CSE altered the proceeding of the Conclave. This year the focus was climate change, given the urgent need to bring the discussion of climate change to the forefront. The sessions revolved around the topic of Climate Change and included the screening of “Before the Flood” and the launch of the Climate Change Reader.
Educators teaching papers related to environment (such as Environmental Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Environmental management, law, Environmental studies, Sustainable development, etc.) representing various higher education institutions attended CSE’s three and half day long National Knowledge Conclave at AAETI. On Day 1 during the keynote address by SunitaNarain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) discussed in detail the various aspects of climate change namely, global politics of climate change, weather extremities, economic losses, etc.
Further, in terms of the state of Environment Education in India at the higher education level was also discussed. Issues such as the categorisation of Environmental Sciences as a compulsory yet a non- credit subject by many of the engineering colleges were raised as a huge concern. Environmental Science/ studies being a multi-disciplinary subject, the importance of classroom lectures coupled with field exposure were discussed. Some of our educators did share innovative methods of teaching the subject thereby ensuring a rise in the interest levels among students towards the critical topic of environment.
The success of CSE’s first Environment Reader encouraged CSE to launch another publication focussed to a burning issue, Climate Change. To do so, CSE reached out to the members of the Green Educators’ Network through an online survey. Many of the topics in the published Reader is the result of the feedback from active members. The aim of both our readers is to provide educators with useful content for enhancing the content of their day to day lectures.
Following the note address, Dr.Ambuj Sagar and Dr. Sonja Klinsky shared their experience while teaching climate change – challenges, what has worked for them or what has not. Their presentation also highlighted their perspective regarding the global climate change debate and classified different ways in which the topic of climate change could be approached for ensuring better and holistic understanding among students. The day was concluded with a session by Ms. Mandavi Singh (CSE’s Energy team) on India’s developmental strategy aiming at energy transitions, focusing on the role of Renewable Energy as far as climate change mitigation is concerned. During the session, various challenges in terms of policy uncertainties that the energy sector is facing were discussed.
Green building features: Then (19th century) & Now (21st century):
On 2nd day of the conclave, an entire day session was conducted by CSE’s Sustainable Buildings and Habitat Programme team, introducing faculty members to CSE’s Green Campus inventory and the overall idea of greening one’s campus.The need and importance to measure a campus’s resource consumption levels across sections of air/water/energy/land were discussed during the session. In order to measure resource consumption levels, variables such as wall-window ratio, carpet area, projections, building physics were explained in detail. Following the classroom session, educators were taken for a tour inside the AAETI campus for showing them all the green features of the AAETI campus.
Participants were also taken to the Tijara fort, a 250 year old monument to identify the green features of the fort and compare with the contemporary / sustainable construction of AAETI campus. Educators found this activity extremely useful as they were able to connect well with the concepts of building physics and thereby find commonalities or disjuncture between AAETI and the Tijara fort.
Climate Change and Biodiversity:
Amidst the entire climate change debate, the need for conserving biodiversity was discussed during a session on India’s biodiversity conservation strategy – policies and politics by Dr. Ghazala Shahbuddin, Senior Scientist at Centre for Ecology Development and Research (CEDAR), Dehradun. Dr. Shahabuddin had done extensive work in the field of biodiversity conservation (human-nature relationship) especially in the Sariska Tiger Reserve area. During this session, Dr. G.B. Reddy (ex-Chief Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan), Mr. Bhardwaj (Park Director, Sariska Tiger Reserve) and Mr. Shekhawat (Deputy Park Director, Sariska Tiger Reserve) had also joined to provide our participants different viewpoints of the India’s conservation story. During this session, to highlight the complexity of the biodiversity conservation agenda, different points of view were covered - indigenous community’s point of view, from Government state official’s point of view and from an academician’s point of view.
Following the classroom session, educators were taken inside the Sariska Tiger Reserve to give them an opportunity to understand the floral and faunal composition of Sariska and how the biodiversity of the Park is being effected either owing to extreme events or owing to human activity or the challenges faced by the forestors in managing the 866 square kilometres of reserve.
On the last day of the conclave, participants were taken to one of the villages close to Manikheda in Nuh district for an interactive session with an organic farmer – Mr. Haji Ali Shah and his community elders. Mr. Haji Ali Shah, explained the challenges related to agriculture being faced by the farmer community in the region owing to climate change. He further explained the way he had to switch from water intensive crops to less water intensive crops, had to install a solar PV panel to adapt to climate change.
In order to continue engagement with faculty members of environment and their students, Facebook Live sessions will be organized at regular intervals, monthly e-newsletters will be released to all educators thereby ensuring continuous provision of contentwith the objective of enhancing their classroom lectures on environment.
With the support and inputs by our educators, CSE’s environment Education unit is planning to prepare a note on the state of Environment Science/ Studies education at higher education institutions – gaps and alternative proposals.
Members, stay tuned for further developments!
|LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
|India’s environment challenges - What role does CSE play in helping India meet these challenges
By: Ms Gita Kavarana (Head, Institutional Development, CSE)
|India’s Developmental Strategy aiming at energy transitions (renewable)
By: Ms. Mandavi Singh, (Deputy Programme Manager, CSE Energy Group)
|Green/ Sustainable building - Then (19th century)and now (21st century)
By: Mr. Rajneesh Sareen, Ms. Mitashi Singh and Mr. Sugeet Grover, (CSE Sustainable Buildings and Habitat Programme)
|Climate Change and biodiversity
By: Dr. Ghazala Shahabuddin, (Senior Scientist, CEDAR)