Sustainability education for the masses

(Colin Bell)

Good piece by Kim Bryan of CAT on Guardian Sustainable Business on the problem that we are short of the people needed to transition to a low-carbon society. It’s all very well having the funding for windfarms, sustainable buildings and so on, but if you don’t have the architects and engineers with the skills to design and construct them, then you’re stuck. (Or, as seems to be happening in some fields, you bring the expertise in from abroad, but then much of the financial gain from the Green Economy is lost.)

This is a great example of how we need joined up thinking between business and government, plus other education and training bodies. People need to start being trained now so they’re ready to start work in three, five years time. Business and government together need to put the economic environment in place so that there’s some hope of this new sector yielding a reliable career path.

But probably we also need to go further back. There are many great courses out there for professionals and business leaders, typically at the Masters level. But skills for sustainability and the mindset to think that way needs to be mainstream and not just for the specialist. What’s going on in our schools? I was pleased to hear from an A level student that the issues of peak resources are now covered in the Geography syllabus – just hoping it becomes even more embodied, and lower down the age range.

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