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| Last Updated:19/09/2019

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UGC mandates Environmental Studies at UG level

 

 

 

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has recently instructed its affiliated universities and colleges to introduce a compulsory six-module course on Environmental Studies at all branches of undergraduate degree. The module, however, has been existent since 2013, and the new directive to implement it, is a part of a routine task by UGC to remind universities or colleges who either have not implemented the instruction or are not aware of the same, says a senior UGC officer, while talking to Education Times.

 

 

 

The decision to create a six-module course on Environmental Studies was taken by the Supreme Court in 1991 after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an advocate, MC Mehta. According to the court order, UGC had to prescribe a course on environment as a mandatory subject in colleges.

 

 

 

It took UGC over two decades to conceptualise and introduce a course on Environmental Studies. “We formed a committee of six experts comprising five professors and one UGC official to prepare a compulsory course,” says the officer.

 

 

 

“The fact that our society is already facing critical environmental challenges which need to be addressed immediately, an entire generation of students seeking higher education in any subject must engage in Environmental Studies before they graduate and take up careers to decide society’s future,” says SD Biju, dean of Faculty of Science and head of Department of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi which implemented this course at the UG level since 2014.

 

 

 

Biju adds further, “The course will help students gather interdisciplinary knowledge on the critical linkages between nature, society, and the economy, besides developing their critical thinking to take informed decisions for sustainable development and lifestyles.”

 

 

 

As for the right faculty to teach the course, it must be noted that there is a stark difference between Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies. “While the former deals with the scientific aspects of environment, the latter is about environment in general and aims to make students ecologically aware. Hence, professors from Science, Geology and even Geography whose fields have relevance with Environmental Studies are competent to teach the subject,” says the UGC officer. The module has been split into eight units, and 50 lectures. “It is up to the university or college to decide how they will incorporate the module across their UG level,” the officer adds.

 

 

 

Looking at the current UGC directive “as a contribution to systematically advance education for sustainable development”, Arun Kansal, dean, Research and Relationships at TERI School of Advanced Studies, points out that Environmental Studies along with disaster management (also mandated by UGC) are perhaps the only subjects that unite all disciplines, be it natural, social and applied sciences without compromising the curriculum rigours of a course.

 

 

 

“Having said that, educational institutions must safeguard against blindly adopting universally valid environmental studies course content. Rather, they should tailor make it according to the needs of various disciplines. If implemented in the right way, Environmental Studies will reinforce the learning outcomes of various disciplinary programmes,” Kansal adds.

 

 

 

 

Source: Times of India, 27 May 27, 2019