Friday, 31 January 2014

Education and the future

Green24 is for everyone's future. We should never lose sight of the fact that sustainability is for future generations, for our children and our childrens’ children. This is a long-term project and part of everything we do.

We have explained in this column how businesses can and should benefit from being actively involved in sustainable development, both in terms of innovation and implementation. Whether or not we have made the case successfully, it is undeniable that sustainability must be forwarded through the involvement and engagement of young people and education providers.

Schools, both in this country and in many others, have built sustainability into the national curriculum. Although the curriculum is being slimmed down, just now the Sustainability and Environmental Education charity - SEEd - ( is piloting new forms of curricula, working sustainability learning into a wide range of subjects. This includes a scheme to make your school more sustainable! An excellent resource is the ‘world mapper’ that shows countries by size of carbon use. There is also the eco-schools campaign (, 'Teach Share' for teacher’s materials ( and the 'Sustainable Schools Alliance' ( supporting learning programmes.

In Scotland, the ‘One Planet Schools’ initiative, backed by government, published the One Planet Schools Report in December 2012, providing a whole-school approach to learning about sustainability. It is a model that many countries would do well to follow.

At a higher tier of education, many universities offer degrees up to Masters level in sustainable development and related subjects. The universities of East Anglia, Exeter, Leeds, Dundee and Aston are prominent in offering a range of courses that attract international students. Some, like Kingston, focus on environmental change, while others like Lancaster make links with business and management. Even my own university, Oxford, has expanded the oldest Geography department in the world to include environmental change in its title. To brag a little, we were, I recall, at the forefront of climate change research in the 1980s!

The international scene is very diverse and rich with opportunities. PhD work is widespread and many universities have research centres. I am connected to Royal Holloway, London, but there are other centres, from Aberdeen and Glasgow to Cambridge and Hertfordshire. There is a wealth of activity, interest and application among the younger generations; perhaps the rest of us need to catch up! Certainly, I have one son studying a sustainability degree and another to follow. It is encouraging that they can see this as a key part of their futures. It is up to us to provide the support we can. This is where Green 24 starts.

David Jackman

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