Authored by Prof. R. Rajagopalan, a former professor at IIT Madras, the book widely regarded as a fundamental resource for environmental studies was released by University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Dr M. Jagadesh Kumar in New Delhi on Nov 1.
The book focuses on climate change as the most significant challenge of our times. It also includes new content on topics such as climate adaptation, circular economy, disaster management, and the government’s ‘Lifestyle for the Environment (LIFE) Movement,’ which aims to promote environmental awareness.
On the sidelines of the book launch, a panel discussion titled ‘Environmental Education and Humanity’s Ethical Stewardship’ was organized. The discussion centred on the crucial role that environmental education plays in shaping humanity’s moral perspective regarding the prudent use of our planet’s resources. The panelists included notable figures such as Nitin Sethi, Journalist & Founding Member of The Reporters’ Collective; Dipankar Saharia, Senior Director at The Energy Research Institute; and Vimlendu Jha, one of India’s leading Environmentalists. The discussion was moderated by Urmi Goswami, Assistant Editor at the Economic Times.
Dr Kumar reaffirmed the UGC’s commitment to addressing the mounting urgency of environmental concerns, underlining the pressing need for immediate attention and concerted collaborative efforts. He highlighted the UGC’s proactive initiative to seamlessly integrate environmental education and sustainable practices into higher education curricula across the nation. Dr Kumar underscored the importance of empowering the younger generation, urging them to assume the mantle of environmental stewardship with responsibility and dedication.
Sumanta Datta, Managing Director, Oxford University Press India, said, “At Oxford University Press, we are committed to raising awareness about social and environmental issues among learners and researchers worldwide. We aim to harness the power of publishing to educate future generations, promote critical thinking and informed decision-making, and drive positive, long-lasting change. Reiterating the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s mission of Lifestyle for Environment (LIFE), the book serves as a gentle nudge for individual and collective action to protect and preserve the environment.”
In a message for the launch of his book, the author Dr. Rajagopalan drew attention to the dire situation we are in: “In March 2023, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists from all over the world, released a report which included warnings that the world was approaching “irreversible” levels of global warming, with catastrophic impacts rapidly becoming inevitable; and that it was “now or never” to take drastic action to avoid disaster. Of course, we now regularly experience extreme weather events in India and elsewhere.”
Dr.Rajagopalan made a plea for the full implementation of the 2003 Order of the Supreme Court on Environmental Education – at all levels from Class 1 to the degree course. The UGC should ensure that the compulsory subject Environmental Studies carries credits and marks. The government’s ‘Lifestyle for the Environment Movement’ (LiFE) initiative should also be implemented.
It is pertinent to mention that on June 5, 2023, UGC released the guidelines and curriculum framework for environmental education in undergraduate courses. The UGC directed all undergraduate programmes in Higher Education Institution (HEIs) to include this course. The guidelines are designed to cater to students from all disciplinary backgrounds and to sensitise them about our nation’s commitment to achieving sustainable development goals and resolving global environmental concerns. Given the multidisciplinary nature of the environmental education course, HEIs can choose to use the team-teaching method.