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If not now, when? Five reasons to study environment & sustainability

EducationWorld June 2020 | Special Essay

The environment crisis is sweeping the planet. Rising temperatures to loss of biodiversity, increasing pollution to impending population displacement, smoggy skies to sinking coastlines—the effects are devastating.

A small group of voices has been screaming climate change for a long time. Yet there is a need for climate action with a refreshed perspective—and it is coming. When youth icons like teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg to India’s very own, eightyear-old Licypriya Kangujam stand up and speak out, the whole world listens. Imagine what a generation of empowered young people could do to save the world?

That is exactly what O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU), Sonipat has set out to inspire. It is in the search for solutions towards a sustainable future that the private university recently launched its new school, Jindal School of Environment & Sustainability (JSES). Here’s a look at some salient reasons to consider the three-year interdisciplinary programme, B.A. (Hons.) Environmental Studies that will offer a platform for young people to prepare for the environmental needs of the 21st century.

Save the world!

It is clear as day—though ironically, clear days are numbered—that climate change is real. Yet climate action has been coming slowly. The landmark Paris Agreement of 2015, that set out to curb rising temperatures “well below” two degrees Celsius, is going to miss the mark. To succeed in meeting environmental goals requires greater levels of innovation and collaboration between industries, governments, academics and communities. Through cutting-edge teaching, research and practice-based engagements, students will be equipped with the know-how to identify key solutions at JSES. The school hopes to evolve a strategic plan for these extraordinary times.

Understand the environment in a holistic way

“A primary goal of JSES is to offer undergraduate students a concentration in environmental studies with an opportunity to explore how humans interact with the environment, including physical, biological, philosophical, social and legal elements,” explains Dr. Armin Rosencranz, Dean and Professor, JSES.

As the world faces an increasing array of challenges, solving them requires one to understand a diversity of perspectives behind environment and sustainability issues. Students will learn to appreciate the environment in tandem with economics, law, policy, politics, technology, culture, and much more through a well-rounded multidisciplinary curriculum. Its focus on qualitative and quantitative analysis and research will foster skills to consider global, national and local concerns more empirically. The programme will also introduce a strong practical dimension through student-initiated projects. For young students, the opportunity to specialise in a field of their choice and create real-world impact is remarkable.

Learn from the best

“This is the vanguard of something that can be incredibly exciting and powerful. There’s no other place on Earth where such an institution could take root and actually achieve results. It gives me hope and confidence, that with lawyers like M.C. Mehta and leaders like Prof. Raj Kumar and Prof. Rosencranz, we’re going to be able to do it,” beams Justice Michael D. Wilson, Supreme Court of Hawaii, who is among JSES’s International Board of Advisors.

The faculty and advisory line-up is a pool of interdisciplinary academicians from top international universities, and legendary professionals like Mr. M.C. Mehta, the celebrated Indian environmental lawyer. Educated at Princeton and Stanford, Dean of JSES, Prof. Rosencranz is an iconic figure in the field. He co-authored the book Environmental Law and Policy in India, which is easily to be found on the bed-side of many aspiring environmentalists! It is this level of expertise and mentorship that will bolster learning at JSES.

Explore multidisciplinary electives

Whether you go down the route of employment or entrepreneurship, diversifying your skill set is important in today’s world. Complementing a niche specialisation with a broader understanding of other areas is a winning combination.

A striking advantage of studying at an interdisciplinary university with schools of law, business, international affairs, public policy, journalism and communication, art and architecture, banking and finance, and liberal arts and humanities is the scope to explore a spectrum of cross-listed electives.

Students can delve deeper into areas of interest and build-up a holistic academic portfolio. For instance, a course on ‘Environmental Management & Green Marketing’ can support green entrepreneurs in-the-making; or ‘Negotiation, Mediation & Arbitration’ can lend an edge to those interested in law and diplomacy. An Environmental Studies graduate who knows a thing or two about ‘Doing Business in China’, ‘Design Thinking’ or ‘Governance of Artificial Intelligence & Blockchain’ will be a cut above the rest

Launch into careers in conservation, policy, law, research & more

Arjya B. MajumdarThere are many ways you can be a crusader for the environment. Graduates can work with conservation groups and NGOs at a practical level; apply theoretical knowledge to careers with think-tanks, governments, research organisations and academia; or use the broad-based degree as a spring-board for futures in other fields—the possibilities are endless.

The world needs more lawyers, business people, politicians, journalists, bankers, economists, diplomats, artists, analysts, researchers and academicians as much as hands-on environmental activists, who are equally passionate about the planet, ready to rise to the challenges, and facilitate positive action in every sphere. This is a programme that aims to raise a generation of responsible citizens of the planet.

(Professor Arjya B. Majumdar, B.A., B.Sc., LL.B. (NUJS-Kolkata), LL.M. (Tulane) Dean, Admissions & Outreach)

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