Understanding the need to make students ecologically aware for a sustainable future, in 2019 the UGC had instructed all its affiliated universities and colleges to introduce a compulsory six-module course on Environmental Studies across all branches of undergraduate (UG) courses. Three years on, many universities have implemented this mandated course, stating that it is a much needed and popular course amongst students.


Currently in place


University of Delhi (DU) implemented the module in 2014. Satyabhama Das Biju, professor, Department of Environmental Studies, DU, says, “Initially when the module was introduced, students questioned the viability of studying about the environment when their core subject was Economics or Maths. However, understanding that today every profession has an impact on environmental sustainability, there is a revolutionary change in students’ outlook.”

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In fact, today students are demanding that the course should be spread across more than just one semester, adds Radhey Shyam Sharma, professor, Department of Environmental Studies, DU.
Even universities that offer few UG courses have introduced the UGC mandated module. Sharat Kumar Palita, vice-chancellor (incharge), Central University of Odisha, says, “The university offers only one UG course in Integrated Maths. We introduced the ‘Environmental Studies’ module in the UG course a few years ago, and it continues till date,” he says.

As a professor dealing with Animal Sciences and Conservation of Biodiversity for close to three decades now, Palita says there is a rise in interest among students regarding environment studies. “Students from our Integrated Maths UG course work on projects that enable them to find a correlation between their core subject and the environment, leading to more insightful and in-depth research opportunities during their postgraduation (PG) courses,” says Palita.


Future actions

Most higher education institutes (HEIs) either offer courses on Environmental Studies or are in the process of introducing them. PK Shajahan, dean (academic affairs), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, says, “Creating a generation that understands environmental sustainability is essential for building a resilient future. While we do not have specific module on this for our UG programmes in Social Sciences and Social Work, we do have different components in these programmes that deal with environmental awareness.”

In lines with National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, the institute is in the process of introducing a common/value-added course focusing on environmental awareness across all UG programmes. “For 2022, we are introducing a new UG programme on Analytics and Sustainability Studies. We are waiting for the UG programme structure and guidelines from UGC to implement the same from our next academic session” adds Shajahan.

At DU, UG students across specialisations have embraced the module wholeheartedly. “Most students understand that if environment indicators are not up to the mark, it shows dearth of growth across all fields. Many UG students are involved in sustainability projects like recycling waste, recycling water and are even contributing to making the campus green. Environmental consciousness enables overall growth among students,” says Sharma.

It is with this in mind that the University is in the process of introducing skill enhancement courses in addition to the compulsory six-month module at the UG level to help students become green warriors.



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