14/06/2021

Categories: Sustainability, Undergradute

Sustainability Challenges for Educational Establishments

There is no denying that climate change, and what we need to do, has a heightened sense of urgency attached to it. This means that everyone needs to make a concerted effort to do more and stick with these changes. The urgency is not lost on University leaders, and that’s why sustainable education is key for every educational establishment in the UK.

What are the Sustainability Challenges?

For any educational establishment, from schools to Universities, delivering the same or better services to students and staff whilst striving to meet sustainability goals is not without its challenges. By understanding what these challenges are, solutions can be found.

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Message apathy

Who would have thought that making changes to save our planet and improve our quality of life, as a result, would arouse such strong opinions and objections? But it does. As well as climate change deniers, there is also another challenge in the shape of message apathy.

This is where the message and urgency of climate change are diluted by apathy. This happens when we are bombarded with the same message time and time again. It also results from people thinking that recycling plastic and putting less in the bin is THE solution.

Sustainable education aims to do more. Educational establishments, like businesses across all industries, can ill afford to ignore the need to make changes across all sectors and levels of what they do. But with apathy potentially standing in the way, we are having to find new, innovative ways to reinforce the message and introduce new concepts.

Funding

‘Going green’ is not just about recycling. It is introducing digital platforms that are safe and secure to use so consumption of paper and other consumables is reduced. It is not just about reducing energy consumption and turning lights off but about how the energy is generated.

In other words, it is about investing in solutions that deliver in the longer term. Ideally, every educational establishment would like to generate their own energy with solar panels, a wind turbine or opting for energy from green suppliers.

But these solutions are expensive and often out of reach of current funding levels. Making changes for the long term means investment. But once made, the savings will mean more investment in other climate saving changes.

Change management

Some changes to make education ‘green’ are significant. For some people, students and staff alike, this is just as much about change management as it is about finding a new way of doing things.

For example, opting for a paperless course can, for some people, present issues that they will need to find solutions for. For example, do they have access to the appropriate technology to be able to access materials digitally? Is this affordable? What are the other options if these issues cannot be resolved?

Change management becomes a key part of cementing greener teaching and management practices within every educational establishment.

A wider skillset

Sustainable education provision is not just about recycling bins and cutting down on paper. Some changes need to be implemented that take leadership from people who have specialist skill sets.

The circular economy, for example, talks of making better use of the ‘waste’ we create. This means reducing our consumption and supply of ‘consumables’. But this innovative thinking and technology, including systems in place at Universities and schools. This means consulting with specialists and adapting to potentially new, sophisticated means of doing things.

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The University Of Bolton’s Commitment To Sustainability

There is no doubt that ‘doing nothing’ when it comes to sustainable education and climate change is not an option. But what is needed is a clear understanding and direction to make changes a sustainable, long term reality. Here at the University of Bolton we’re committed to sustainability and have appointed a committee specifically to understand the challenges of sustainability in education and work to overcome them. Our committee regularly reviews and evolves best practice, enabling us to work towards a more sustainable future.

If you’re interested in learning more about our sustainability policy, you can read the full document here.

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