COLUMN: Creating enviro-leaders

Why not introduce one or two mandatory environmental sustainability courses at the post-secondary level?

Global warming and climate change are two phrases that most of us have become quite familiar with in recent years.

A survey released earlier this year by Insightrix Research showed that only two per cent of Canadians refute the concept of climate change. Despite the ubiquity of climate change awareness, we still lack concrete measures that need to be taken by today’s leaders in order to address the pressing issue of climate change. I attribute this lack of action to ignorance.

Though most of us would like to believe that our educated leaders, both in the public and private sectors, are aware of the ramifications of climate change, the truth may be quite contrary to popular belief.

Projects such as the proposed Enbridge pipeline, cuts to research funding at the federal level, and denial that global warming even exists are testaments to the fact that our leaders are failing to address concerns that will affect generations to come.

Ignorance will certainly not vanish overnight. But we can start by changing ourselves, which is the maxim that most of us try to live by.  However, action from the top is also needed.

Educating our leaders will take time, but maybe the solution lies not too far away from a common-sense approach.

It might seem like an obvious and simplistic solution, but why not introduce one or two mandatory environmental sustainability courses at the post-secondary level? These courses would accompany any field that a student chooses to pursue at a Canadian institution.

Doing so would produce future leaders with not just knowledge about environmental concerns, but also how they can apply sustainable practices to their chosen field.

In essence, it would help alleviate the problems of failed sustainability leadership that we see all around us, today. Certainly, a pilot project wouldn’t hurt. It might just be wishful thinking, but it is an idea that could be attempted.

The emerging triple-bottom-line trend in many business organizations is certainly a step in the right direction. However, in order to create widespread support for environmental awareness, we need mandatory courses.

Education will not guarantee environmentally conscious leadership, but it will help. Climate change, as many skeptics would have us believe, is not some sort of fad or trendy topic. Unless we take drastic measures at all levels of society, climate change will continue to remain a pressing issue.

Obviously, not all leaders are the product of universities and neither do all students occupy leadership positions. However, it is reasonable to say that a vast majority of leaders are university educated.

Though many minor and major environmental sustainability programs are offered at universities, mandatory sustainability courses would ensure that all graduates are environmentally aware.  It is time that our scientists and climate change researchers aren’t the only ones advocating for sustainable action.  Business professionals, politicians, and engineers also need to understand the vital importance of sustainability.

We have all seen the melting glaciers and rising sea levels on television. These are not dramatic depictions. Climate change is a harsh truth that must be addressed.

Education has continued to serve as a beacon of light in our society and Canadian universities have produced global leaders. Universities, however, must continue to change with the changing needs of society. We need them to help in addressing the climate change crisis with more vigour and determination.

Awareness and action not only begins at the individual level, but also in the classroom. Changes in the university curriculum alone will not help address the major issue of climate change, but knowledge has the power to effect both short-term and long-term results.

Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University Surrey. He writes regularly for The Leader.

japreet@live.ca

Just Posted

Surrey cold-case murder is Crime Stoppers’ ‘Crime of the week’

Police have yet to arrest a suspect in the April 24, 2011 murder of Devon Allaire-Bell, 19, in Newton

Surrey’s ready for winter with 17,000 tonnes of salt, online snow plow tracker

A sidewalk-clearing pilot project is continuing in City Centre this year

LETTER: Oppal should delay Surrey’s policing plan until we can vote in new mayor

In case of transition plan, red tape and bureaucracy might actually save Surrey’s skin

TransLink to discuss proposed bus-route changes at White Rock forum

“It is important that the opinions of riders are heard,” says mayor

SURREY EVENTS: ‘Classic Scary Movie Marathon’ for Halloween, and more

Concerts, plays, fundraisers and other events in our weekly guide for Surrey

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Workers at four Vancouver hotels ratify contract with higher wages, job security

Unite Here Local 40 president Zailda Chan says it’s the first hotel strike in Vancouver in nearly two decades

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

Most Read