June 18, 2011
Dept of Social Work, Amritapuri
“The fast paced rate of environmental degradation has made environmental protection a priority among contemporary global issues, putting immense pressure on businesses to make environmental concerns part of their strategy formulation,” explained Dr. Praveen Balakrishnan Nair from the School of Business and Design, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia.
“Yet, reputed business schools still maintain an intellectual bias against business ethics and societal values, which are seen as less important fields of study,” he added.
Dr. Praveen was presenting a paper titled, Environmental Education and Pro Environmental Behaviour – Changing the Mindsets, at the International Conference on Society, Technology and Sustainable Development.
The author had conducted a survey to assess the environmental content and focus of the academic curriculum of a reputed UK business school and its impact on environmental awareness of students.
Since the students provided incorrect answers to a number of crucial and basic environmental questions, the researcher deduced that their environmental knowledge was rather weak.
“The study showed that common business school curriculum which emphasizes on Anglo – American style shareholder-value oriented business governance where little importance is given to societal value concerns, negatively influences graduates who will develop a very narrow perspective of business management, ignoring the environmental impact of the business decisions they make,” Dr. Praveen pointed out.
“Educational institutions should recognize that environmental issues are in fact, business issues,” Dr. Praveen underlined.
Other speakers provided examples, where incorporating environmental education into the curriculum had helped students gain a greater awareness of environmental issues confronting the world today. In India, the UGC has recommended mandatory environmental education for all college and school students.
Prof. Thomas P. Chacko, from the Tripude College of Social Work, Maharashtra, surveyed nearly a thousand college students in central India, finding that most of them were aware of the importance of using CFL bulbs, cloth bags, public transport, recycling waste and conserving water.
Dr. Savita Srivastava, highlighted the example of Dayalbagh Educational Institute near Agra in UP where students are taught the value of simple and eco-friendly living. “Living in a sustainable manner helps in spiritual growth,” she noted.
Finally, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham was singled out by many speakers – here environmental studies is a core course for all students, irrespective of their discipline or major.
“Sustainability is one thing which has to permeate all disciplines of study, whether it is arts, science, engineering or medicine,” stated Dr. Ram Bhooj, Program Specialist, UNESCO. “Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham being a value-based institution, has already set a trend. If we are going to become a sustainable society, in fact, education is the key.”