higher education is slowly changing

Published on January 24, 2022

To respond to the search for meaning of young people, half of whom say they suffer from eco-anxiety, but also to meet the needs of companies, the establishments are launching training courses entirely dedicated to the transition. A first step on this World Education Day, although climate issues are still addressed too little in higher education.

Training students in socio-ecological issues in order to decarbonise society has become a major challenge. But change is slow. According to a 2019 study by the Shift project, only 24% of training courses deal with climate and energy issues. However, no less than 92% of graduates believe that it is important to work in a responsible company (Accenture Cabinet, 2016).

Based on this finding, higher education centers are embarking on this path and new specialized training courses are emerging. Like the Baccalaureate Law offered by Essec, the Higher School of Economics and Commerce, in collaboration with the University of Cergy Paris. This postgraduate course, the first class of which is scheduled for September 2022, is based on “a multidisciplinary approach”, explains the director of the Degree, Aymeric Marmorat.

In the program, courses on climate issues: decarbonization and energy transition, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture … but also on social issues – inequalities, the fight against poverty, citizenship, democracy … “because the environmental transition will also affect the way we live together,” says Aymeric Marmorat.

Eco-anxiety response

These lessons will be articulated around collective projects: “make a carbon footprint, organize citizen mobilization, create a social enterprise”, list, by way of example, the director. The aim is also to master the decision-making mechanisms for learning to engage in dialogue with stakeholders, both engineers in energy transition and biologists on the relationship with the living, but also elected officials, business people or association leaders.

In late 2021, a global study found that one in two young people between the ages of 16 and 25 said they were suffering from ecological anxiety, a concern for threats to the environment. “Ecological anxiety, consider Aymeric Marmorat, comes from the fact that these socio-environmental issues are in the concerns of young people but are outside their scope. Training aims to develop its power of action “ and will allow them to find a professional path that fits their aspirations.

It’s also about answering “to the needs of organizations“, adds the director, based on the latest survey by Birdéo, a recruitment company specializing in positive impact jobs, which shows that 40% of managers plan to hire sustainable development professionals in the coming months (2021). Other establishments have understood this, such as Audencia, a management school in Nantes, which has just launched Gaïa, its school of ecological and social transition in collaboration with the Shift Project.

Remodel all higher education

The emergence of these specialized offers in business schools is in “It simply came to our notice then“by Amélie Deloche of the Ecological Réveil collective, because”we must think beyond the prism of capitalism and growth “. But that’s not always the case: “There is a double discourse between the desire to meet the expectations of companies that have not yet fully transitioned and are looking for future graduates ready to participate in growth. But also to train students for other outings to change the business model.

For the collective, these specialized courses are still insufficient. It encourages students from all walks of life to deal with climate issues. “We need to reshape all higher education courses from a transition angle,” says Amelie Deloche who is aware that things will not change overnight.

Mariona Chastain @MarionChastain

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