Environment is central to the idea of sustainable and inclusive development. And so is the need for effective dissemination of environmental knowledge in our educational institutions both at school as and at university levels.
As a logical extension to the successful Green Schools’ Programme that for a decade has made a mark in schools, CSE launched its University intervention in early 2016. University Grants Commission (UGC) has made it compulsory for all colleges to introduce a six months module on environment. Titled, ‘Environmental Studies’, is now offered as an interdisciplinary, course at the undergraduate level across all disciplines in India. A common refrain about ‘Environmental Studies’ is that it is poorly executed and indifferently received by students, who find the course boring (18 year old, fresh out of school!). Faculty members, on their part, cite a lack of training/teaching help (pedagogic approaches, lack of readings, other resources, etc.) The Supreme Court’s mandate for all University students to study Environmental Studies in the first semester has reinforced the idea that meaningful environmental education is a key priority for a sustainable and equitable future.
Vision: CSE’s vision is to reach out and nurture the youth of the country through Faculties teaching environment by making them more aware about the science and politics of environmental issues. This in turn is bound to stimulate them to question the prevailing developmental patterns, lifestyle, and governance systems.
Objective: Build capacity of Faculty to teach EVS, and provide ready reference material to enrich their teachings and Provide platforms such as the Green Educators’ Network, Knowledge Conclave, summer courses such as Agenda for Survival (AfS) to develop the capacity of those (Faculty, students as well as young environmental professionals) to bring alive the vast subject of environment.
Components of the University Programme:
Green Educators’ Network – was launched in January 2016 to provide teachers a platform, a space to interact amongst themselves and with others who teach the subject. The Educator’s Network aims to enhance their knowledge about environmental issues, politics and impart learnings for solutions. More than 500 educators have registered for the network, while around 250 plus of these educators have attended the Knowledge Conclave.
Educators teaching EVS or Environmental Engineering or Environmental Science can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org , if interested in becoming a member of the network. The Environment Education Unit (EEU) is constantly working towards the expansion of the Educators network by approaching colleges situated in each and every corner of the country.
Knowledge Conclave – This forum provides the members of the Green Educators’ Network access to CSE’s vast network of environment educators, scientists, activists, policy makers, regulators, lawyers and journalists. The focus of the Conclave is environmental education for a sustainable and equitable future. In addition to two National Knowledge Conclaves conducted in the year 2015 and 2016, CSE has also held a ‘Regional Knowledge Conclave’ at Kolkata in 2017.
Environmental Reader for Universities – Based on feedback by members of the network that topical resource material was limited, CSE recently introduced the Environmental Reader aimed at providing a well –rounded perspective towards the various environmental issues with the help of case studies, current data, infographics, etc. A significant number of academicians who are also part of our Green Educator Network are already using and recommending the Reader as part of the curriculum or are planning to propose the inclusion of the same from the next session onwards. Valuable and encouraging feedback from the users of the Reader cited it to be highly informative, include how educators are able to link with the UGC syllabus.
Green Campus – CSE’s University Programme also believes in providing practical solutions or alternatives/ strategies to help these colleges transform themselves by increasing resource efficiency, improving ecosystem management for sufficiency, minimizing waste, pollution and promoting healthy lifestyle. In this regard, CSE launched its Green Campus Toolkit at the Regional Knowledge Conclave in Kolkata, and CSE will reveal the findings at the next Conclave in January 2018.
Agenda for Survival - Held each June, this flagship month long summer school started in 2008 designed by CSE offers a range of experiences to participants such as study of issues, interaction with policy-makers, field work and interaction with communities. It has alumni well placed in premier institutions of this country. This four week innovative program gives the youth of India an opportunity to evaluate issues that lie at the interface of environment and development; poverty; democracy, equity and justice. This interactive programme has a number of assignments weaved in to make learning exciting and to help participants to polish their communication skills, field-based reporting and writing to understand environment as a subject.