Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Student engagement in sustainability

I have been at a national forum discussing this today, at the University of Gloucestershire's high-tech Centre for Active Learning. "It's so important to get students to turn lights off!" exclaimed one speaker, as the sun beat down outside and the lights blazed away in the Centre where we all sat. Apparently, the computer mechanism works with some delay in adjusting the levels of light and heat. A bit like getting the Queen Mary to change course.

This seems to me to say it all. Students are well ahead of the game in their desire to live simply, and usually that's all they can afford to do anyway. But do their teachers always set them a good example? Even though their talk is all about sustainability, do they walk it? If not, it shows.

"Students have the numbers to make a real difference," said UoG Vice-Chancellor Patricia Broadfoot in her opening address. Yet "student status depends on conspicuous consumption," observed Gill Kelly of QMU, Edinburgh. How do we all discover the knack of habit discontinuity?

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