Empowering Students For A More Sustainable University
In this article, we will consider the issues of the current transformation of higher education and universities towards sustainable development. Building images of a future sustainable university is based on a radical change in meanings and priorities, an updated philosophy of higher education, and a reformatting of its global and local roles. The overall objective is to provide people with knowledge and skills in sustainable development that will enable them to acquire additional competence and self-confidence. How are we empowering students for a sustainable university or how can we do it?
A sustainable university is a higher education institution that has adapted its educational practices, processes, and infrastructure towards the integrated conservation of natural and energy resources.
Thus, the two main attributes of a sustainable university are:
- adapted educational programs and processes with a strong emphasis on environmental preservation
- optimized use of spaces, resources, and materials while teaching students.
That is, a sustainable university teaches students to take care of the environment within their profession, and also shows the right example of using the available resources. Here is how it can be done in practice.
Provide Opportunities for a Healthy and Productive Life
The correct mode of work and rest is very important in the life of a student. It is necessary to lead a well-organized lifestyle, observe a constant regime in study, rest, nutrition, sleep, and exercise. Also, food culture plays a significant role in the formation of a healthy lifestyle for students. Each student should know the principles of rational nutrition, regulate the normal weight of his body. The university should offer its students and staff to acquire the skills of "green" behavior in this way:
- organize bicycle parking facilities.
- install specialized bins for sorting garbage and waste.
- organize activities for landscaping the territory.
- provide internships in sustainable development organizations.
Organize the Educational Process Through University Campus Is the Most Promising and Effective Way
Sustainable campuses are not only a complex of buildings but also educational projects, where the learning space is changed. Therefore, it is imperative to have a clear development program that provides for the transformation of architecture and the spatial structure of the landscape. These ideas are manifested in the planning and functional zoning, as well as in the architectural appearance of buildings and structures.
For example, one academy of sciences was completely transformed in 2008. The oldest natural history museum and research center in the western United States was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. The building complies with the highest LEED norms and standards. Its distinctive feature is a "green" roof with an area of more than 10 thousand m2, which allows it to exist without air conditioning, and has good thermal insulation properties. The building consumes 30-35% less energy, in contrast to similar buildings that do not use modern energy-efficient technologies.
The need to create a comfortable and accessible environment for activities is obvious. The main directions of the reconstruction of university cities to reformat them into a full-fledged campus should be based on the principles of introducing resource-saving technologies and ensuring environmental safety.
Sustainability in higher education is an opportunity to imagine a better future. What is more, the sustainable university should give students an opportunity not only to imagine this future but also to build it with their hands. This process should be started from adhering to the following principles by the university itself. The penetration of the principles should take place in all areas of the university to achieve successful promotion.
- The principle of a green university declares and actively uses the concept of ecological safety and environmental protection in its daily life.
- The principle of a smart university that effectively uses all resources and implements modern information technologies to manage its processes.
- A healthy lifestyle university should provide its students with conditions for harmonious development, healthy nutritious food, sports, and rejection of bad habits.
Reorienting Higher Education to Move Away From Unsustainable Production and Consumption Patterns
The transformation of universities towards a more sustainable education has already begun, thanks in large part to the pandemic. Many universities have been forced to try a model of distance education for the first time. Surely, this approach is more sustainable from an environmental point of view, since students may not use transport to get to the university, as well as significantly save paper.
So, right now is the best time for reorienting higher education towards sustainable practices. Remote and online learning which will be on the rise during the next several years is the opportunity to teach only those students who are really willing to study, who are more self-disciplined and conscious. This is the opportunity to empower students’ curriculum with more social and ecological sciences, as well as pay their attention to the issues of sustainability while studying other disciplines too.
Very often, students graduate from universities without understanding what to do next and how to apply their knowledge in practice. This is a completely unacceptable situation for a sustainable university since a better future directly depends on the younger generation, who will be able to change approaches to ecology and the environment.
This is why students need to know that they are supported both during their studies and after graduation. If in the process of training they can Pick The Writer on the Writing Judge custom writing reviews website and get help with assignments, then after graduation, it makes sense to provide them with a sustainable career consultant from EduMilestones, for example.
The university should participate in environmental research, develop concepts of ecology and human impact on the ecosystem. What is more, students should actively participate in this process and be able to see the positive example of the university they are studying in. Surely, this will need a complete revision of educational and economical practices that are taking place in the university. Moving towards sustainability will need a complete re-education of teachers and complete rejection of bureaucratic red tape. That is why private educational institutions have more chances of becoming sustainable and eco-friendly since they have more freedom of action. However, there are great hopes that leading global and state universities will also begin to take steps along this path.
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