Colleges prove size doesn’t matter when it comes to tackling global challenges

FE News reports that colleges have a big challenge in front of them and they’re taking it seriously. The challenge? The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These are 17 of the most pressing global issues and the UK has signed up, alongside 192 other member states, to tackle them by 2030. For the UK to stand a chance of fulfilling its responsibility – everybody needs to contribute.

We often hear about Higher Education and the strides they are taking towards sustainability, but Further Education and its colleges are regularly the unsung heroes. Their innovation, aspiration and global perspective goes far beyond their size.

So what are colleges doing?

Borders College in Scotland are working hard to deliver on Goal 7, ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ and recently won a Green Gown Award for the UK’s first heating plant using sewage and waste water. The system will provide 95% of their campus heat requirements – reducing risks of energy price fluctuations as well as saving the college money.

But it’s not just all about carbon and energy. Colleges are key in terms of community and partnership. Ayrshire College in Scotland are fine examples of this with their Green Gown Award winning project that links student learning with the health and wellbeing of older adults in their community. It is a true win-win, with the students gaining valuable learning experiences and the older adults improving their fitness. This initiative encapsulates Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals.

Of course, colleges need to have the right leadership to help them contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals. South Lanarkshire College in Scotland is lucky to have such a leader in their Depute Principal Angus Allan, winner of the Green Gowns’ Leadership Award. Angus’ passion, energy and ambition to drive sustainability to the heart of his college is not only outstanding but an inspiration. He is a leader who knows and understands what it means to successfully push and embed this agenda into campus planning, learning space innovation, lesson plans and course development.

According to the Association of Colleges, in 2017 151,000 people are studying Higher Education in a college and the average FE college works with around 600 businesses to provide training for their staff. If every college put people, planet and peace at the core of their ethos – every year, 151,000 more people would understand why we need to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, and 168,000 businesses would be more aware that globally, there is not inclusive and equitable quality education for everyone and that they can help tackle this.

Together, further education can make a huge difference on a local and global scale.

Read about more FE Colleges, their innovations and impact   Colleges prove size doesn’t matter when it comes to tackling global challenges

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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