A sustainable school or university is about the role of education itself. But at a time when the temptation is to cut expenditure right back we still need to make sure that it supports the decisions that we still seem to be delegating to the next generation.
The Earth at night shows the intensity of energy use
A former colleague of mine, Yamina Saheb, Head of the Sustainable Building Centre at the International Energy Agency (IEA) has a dream. It is that one day energy savings will be a marketable commodity – so profitable that everyone will be clamouring to buy and sell them making it totally unnecessary to impose legislation on energy requirements of products and buildings. She hopes that generation ‘Y’ will make her dream a reality. But the ability of this generation to respond depends on the role of education that we put in place. Today we are educating the policy makers for tomorrow and we need to help them make better choices.
Universities create the life force of many towns, cities and regional economies. They foster places for knowledge exchange both within the student and research communities, but also between these and the wider community and business. They provide the nourishment that the city needs to survive.
Plaza of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico
(Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla)
Stimulating ideas, creativity and knowledge exchange
Many studies such as the OECD’s programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education into the role of higher education in local and regional economies, show the importance of universities in terms of knowledge creation and exchange, underpinning innovation through research and contributing to the development of skills in the local economies. Universities can also play an important role in regenerating urban areas by creating a focus for activity.
Why is the physical environment for higher education still important when arguably with the emergence of online learning and digital access, students do not need to leave their own homes?
Creating spaces that make connections
We are, as is so often pointed out, in a world where the focus is increasingly on personalisation. In healthcare gene therapy is tailored to treat specific conditions unique to a specific person; people can order cars or computers with specific features determined before production; and of course education where students expect that educators will meet their own specific needs at a time that suits them. Continue reading