2021-We need a new education to save the planet

Global climate activist calls for a new education system to help save the planet

Wed, 10 Nov 2021 09:31:00 GMT
Dr Satish Kumar
Dr Satish Kumar

Globally-renowned environmentalist Dr Satish Kumar is calling for a new education system to be introduced in universities around the world to help save the planet.

As it nears the end of COP26 in Glasgow, he insisted that education was contributing to the climate crisis and the current system being used in many universities was out of date.

Dr Kumar said: "We must have a new education system. Education is more than a resource for the economy. Nature is a source of life itself and we have to bring this into our education.

"We need to educate young people that we are not here to conquer or exploit nature. We are here to revere nature and live in harmony with nature. That nature-centred education has to be brought into the 21st century.

"It has to change from a 'me' education to 'we' education. That is the new challenge for our 21st century. Education is part of the problem. We need to make it part of solution.

"All the problems we face today of climate change, social inequality, the fossil fuel industry and big corporations emitting lots of pollution and waste, are designed, led and created by highly educated people from some of the big universities of the world such as Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford.

"Universities around the world today are out of date. This old education is teaching young people to look at nature as if it was only a resource for the economy. They are still training young people to go out in the world and get jobs which will produce pollution, waste and carbon emissions, creating more global warming, climate change and social injustice."

However, he hailed Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) as one of the best in the world for addressing climate change and injustice, and urged other universities to learn lessons from its education system with new paths and ways of learning aimed at protecting the planet.

Dr Kumar said: "Glasgow Caledonian University is one of the leading universities to address these climate issues in our modern times, but in the rest of the world, most of our universities are still following the old educational system, which was designed for the industrial age in the 19th and 20th century.

"I congratulate the University for its wonderful work. I hope that this example can be implemented and practised by other universities so that they can bring nature, ecology, environment, social justice and gender equality into the education system and not just teach students how to get a job and be successful."

Activist and speaker, Dr Kumar has been a Jain monk, nuclear disarmament advocate and pacifist, and is founder and Director of Programmes of the Schumacher College international centre for ecological studies.

GCU Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE welcomed Dr Kumar's passion for change and his praise of the University's forward-thinking education system.

She said: "The tide is turning. Universities around the world are now making commitments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to cement their commitment into real actions."

Dr Kumar was awarded a Doctor of Laws (LLD) at GCU's summer graduations in recognition of his outstanding contribution towards promoting peace and the environment through his activism. His hard-hitting calls for action can be heard on GCU's COP26 Common Good Podcast series here.

As the University for the Common Good, GCU is at the frontline of tackling climate change through its cutting-edge research and education supporting communities internationally, in Scotland and the rest of the UK.  

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are integral to the University's efforts to tackle the climate emergency. The SDGs - issued by the United Nations in 2015 as a blueprint for peace and prosperity across the planet - provide a clear guiding framework for our research and our Strategy 2030 which commits us to 'drive an ambitious agenda for environmental sustainability, embedded across all aspects of our work'.  

Find out more about GCU's COP26 activity -  www.gcu.ac.uk/cop26